ROY ROGERS – ‘KING OF THE COWBOYS’
Roy Rogers was the world’s most popular hero of every youngster from the 1930s to 1950s period. He was an American film idol, guitarist and singer – known as the ‘King of the Cowboys’.
During mid 1950s, my early school days, he was the craze of every kid and teenager. Those of you in my age group would remember him while playing ‘cowboys and crooks’ (quite similar to ‘hora police’, as referred to by some), as a matter of routine, school interval pranks!
Although the older generation would remember him, it is important for the nowadays youngsters to know about the good old days, and especially about the ‘King of the Cowboys’.
Career and Details
Roy Rogers (1911 – 1998) was born and raised in Portsmouth, Ohio, USA, and worked as a peach picker and truck driver as a youngster. His birth name was Leonard Slye. After giving up his jobs and encountering many ups and downs, he got into singing and made his mark with unbelievable success in many movies and TV serials, including the famous ‘Roy Rogers Show’.
His sidekick was his faithful palomino (horse) Trigger, always featured alongside him both on TV and movies. Trigger was reckoned as the most intelligent and smartest horse in the silver screen. Roy’s dog, a German shepherd named Bullet was also a great star, always at hand and alive to warn of any impending dangers.
‘Sons of the Pioneers’ was the name of Roy’s famous music band. They too were featured in many movies. Some of the cowboy films that featured Roy Rogers were, Hollywood Canteen, Sunset in Eldorado, San Fernando Valley, Underneath the Western Stars, Arizona Kid, The Golden Stallion, Cowboy and the Senorita.
His famous cowboy songs include Happy Trails, Don’t Fence Me In, Home on the Range, Roll Along Blue Shadows; I’m back in the Saddle Again, Red River Valley, and I’ve Sold My Saddle for an Old Guitar.
Roy Rogers was married thrice and with his third wife Dale Evans they endured a successful movie and singing career which lasted their lifetime. Roy’s theme song, Happy Trails was composed by Dale and sung by them as a beautiful duet. Roy Rogers’ popularity was such that his pin-up pictures were available everywhere. His comics (cartoon character books) were the craze of all youngsters throughout the world. Many Roy Rogers pictures adorned sweets and bubble-gum wrappers and stickers, adventure novels, comic books, play-sets, and a variety of marketing successes.
He was second only to Walt Disney creations such as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs etc. In the numbers of items featuring his name.
On an average he used to receive around eighty thousand fan mail every month (would you believe that!). The incomparable Roy Rogers was inducted to the country music hall of fame twice – first as a member of his band, Sons Of The Pioneers in 1980, and yet again as an individual in 1988.
Although his movie roles depicted him with a gun, in reality he vehemently opposed gun culture publicly. He and his loving wife were both deep rooted Christians and they founded many children’s charities and adopted four children.
His Death and Legacy
Roy Rogers died in 1998 aged 87. His wife Dale Evans also passed away a few years later. They were buried side by side at Apple Valley, Sunset Hills Memorial Park, San Bernardino County, California, in a beautiful western location close by to their home.
The Roy Rogers – Dale Evans museum in Branson, Missouri houses interesting memorabilia, including handprints of Roy Rogers and hoof prints of Trigger, hats, belts, boots, guns, guitars, rings, badges, etc. It also houses the happy trails theater where Roy’s music is performed by his son Roy ‘Dusty’ Rogers Jr., twice a day, five days of the week.
Roy Rogers was an incomparable star – a legend and an icon like no other!
Note: If interested, you are welcome to listen to his songs and watch his movies on YouTube and gather more information about him.