Gene Autry HeaderGene Autry Museum Hdr

Hats Off to Gene Autry

The Singing Cowboy

The life, career, and accomplishments of Gene Autry was truly astounding. Presented here - in no particular order - are some facts and trivia about the 'Singing Cowboy'. I hope you enjoy reading this tribute as much as I enjoyed compiling it.

Gene Autry Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Album
Gene Autry succeeded at just about anything he undertook: radio, records, songwriting, movies, TV, real estate and business. Known as 'America's Favorite Singing Cowboy', he is the only entertainer to have five stars on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. He appeared in 93 feature films and made 635 recordings. His beloved Christmas song 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer' remains the second best selling single of all time, with sales totaling well over 30 million.

In 1950 he became one of the first major movie stars to move into television. For the next five years, heGA posters produced and starred in 91 half-hour episodes of "The Gene Autry Show".

Then, in 1956, at the zenith of his popularity Gene Autry hung up his performing spurs and turned his attention to managing his personal business. His great love of baseball prompted him to purchase the California Angels in 1961. He remained active in Major League Baseball, even holding the title of Vice President of the American League, until his death in 1998 at the age of 91.

Facts and Trivia:

back in the saddle again- Gene bought his first guitar at the age of 12 for $8 - that was a lot of money in 1919 for the son of an itinerant preacher in a small Oklahoma town. He taught himself to play.

- During the depression, in 1931, Gene recorded "That Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine", which was a huge hit. It soon became the first recording ever to be "certified" as a "gold" record for having sold more than a million copies.

- As a western cowboy hero Gene's star rose quickly. Throughout the 1930s Gene Autry was by far America's Favorite Cowboy, and in 1937 he was voted the Number 1 Western Star by the theater exhibitors of America. In 1940 the theater exhibitors guild listed their top box office attractions - they were,G.Autry Oklahoma celebration Mickey Rooney, Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy and Gene Autry.

- There is a town in Oklahoma named "Gene Autry". It seems that in 1941 Gene had purchased a ranch for his rodeo stock on the west edge of the town of Berwyn, Oklahoma. After learning the identity of their newest neighbor several prominent citizens petitioned to have the name of their town changed to Gene Autry, Oklahoma. The eligible voters of the community overwhelmingly approved, and on Sunday, November 16, 1941the name change officially took place with a very gracious and humble Gene Autry in attendance for the big celebration.Gene signing with WWII buddies

- Always an American patriot first Gene enlisted for service during World War II. He served his country as Sgt. Gene Autry with the Air Transport Command in the China-Burma-India theater; flying the hazardous air route over the Himalayas, known as "The Hump", hauling fuel, ammunition, and arms to U.S. allies.

- When Gene returned after the war he soon realized that the days of the to Hollywood B-Western were numbered. Always a man of vision, he became one of the first major movie stars to move intoAutry's first TV show television in 1950 .

- Aurty also had a talent for producing. At the height of his career he produced several very popular TV series - "Annie Oakley", "Buffalo Bill Jr", "The Range Rider", "The Adventures of Champion", and the first 39 episodes of "Death Valley Days" starring Ronald Reagan.

- From 1940 to 1956 the public listened to him on Gene Autry's Melody Ranch
radio show that was heard weekly over the CBS Radio Network, featuring Autry's trademark theme songBack In The Saddle Again.
Gene's horse Champion
- Gene appeared in 93 feature films. Some of his best known movies are based on his hit records.

- Gene Autry was the first performer to sell out Madison Square Garden.

- Champion was the name of Gene's horse. There were actually three Champions that performed with Autry throughout his legendary career in film, radio, and television.Champion was billed as "Wonder Horse of the West" and received equal billing with Gene above the leading ladies of the day on movie posters. He even hadGene and Reggie Jackson his own TV show "The Adventures of Champion" during the early fifties. Champion was honored by having his hoof prints next to Gene's hand prints at Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood.

- At the age of 46, Gene Autry hung up his guns and spurs, put Champion out to pasture and retired from active participation in the motion picture industry in 1953.

- In 1961 Gene Autry purchased the American League's California Angels baseball team. His great love for the sport soon prompted him to become very active in Major League Baseball. At the time of his death he was the ViceGene Aurty and Ida Mae Autry President of the American League. A title which he had held for many years.

- Gene was married to Ina Mae Autry for forty-eight years until she passed away. They had no children. Gene married his second wife, Jacqueline Autry, in 1981, and they were married for nineteen years until Gene's death on October 2, 1998. They were two very lucky ladies, and he was one very special gentleman.

- During his career Gene Autry made 640 recordings, including more than 300 songs written or co-written by him. His records sold more than 100 million copies and he hasGene and Jackie Autry more than a dozen gold and platinum records.

- Gene rode the western range with two very popular side kicks. The first was Smiley Burnette - also known as Frog Millhouse, who appeared next to Gene
in 50 Republic Pictures and 7 Columbia Pictures movies. Then, beginning in the late 1940s, Pat Buttram replaced him to become Gene's sidekick for the next 17 films and 83 television episodes. Pat later went on to portray the whacky comic character "Mr. Haney" in the popular hit TV comedy "Green Acres".

Autry and Smiley Burnette as Frog Millhouse- Among the many hundreds of honors and awards Autry has received was his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1969.

- He was also inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 1972.

- Gene was presented a "Lifetime Achievement Award" from the International Achievement in Arts Foundation.

- He was inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame.
Gene and Pat Buttram
- He received the Songwriters' Guild Life Achievement Award.

- He Inducted into the Nashville Songwriters' Hall of Fame.

- Gene Autry is the only entertainer to have five stars on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. One each for radio, records, film, television and live theatrical performance.

- He was also honored by his songwriting peers with a lifetime achievementAutry Museumaward from ASCAP.

- He received the Hubert Humphrey Humanitarian of the Year Award.

- He was a 33rd Degree Mason and Honorary Inspector General and was given the prestigious award of the Grand Cross of the Court of Honor.

- In November of 1988 the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum was opened. This was a long-cherished dream came true for Gene who's intention was to give something back to the western community that had been so good to him.

Sadly On Oct. 2nd, 1998, Gene Autry passed away at his home in Studio City, California. Somewhere in heaven, the Angels are listening to cowboy music.

Gene later years

Happy Trails, Gene...until we meet again!

BabyBoomer Gifts from

Get an instant reverse phone report

Free Domestic Shipping On All Orders $125

The Home Icon_Hollywood Cowboy Collectibles HOME