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Roy Rogers

Birth place or City of origin: Cincinnati
State of origin: OH
Last known City: Apple Valley
Last known State: CA
Start/Birth date: 11/5/1911
Death/End date: 7/6/1998

Roy Rogers was everyone's image of what a cowboy should be, from his white Stetson with its silver hatband to his hand-tooled boots. His face was strong and handsome with eyes that squinted yet still showed a twinkle. His smile was warm and reassuring. Whether he was wearing fringed Western wear or a checkered cowboy shirt, he was the epitome of what a cowboy should be. He was the picture of honesty and integrity. And was there ever a more exciting sight than watching Roy and Trigger riding majestically across the television screen or a rodeo arena? No wonder three generations of kids (and adults) wanted to be like Roy Rogers. We wanted to look like Roy, dress like Roy, and be as honest and forthright as Roy.

He gave us standards to live by that helped teach us the difference between right and wrong. His willingness to stand up for the things he believed in, inspired us. And his religious faith and his concern for the less fortunate helped mold our character. Roy lived his life off camera with the same decency and humility that he projected on television and on the silver screen. He was the hero who never let us down. Despite all the success that came to him, Roy never seemed to lose his way. And he never forgot that his fans were the ones who made it possible for a poor boy from Ohio to attain a level of success greater than anything he could ever have imagined. His decency and strength of character come from a simpler time in America. Yet it was anything but an easy time.

Roy Rogers, the King of the Cowboys, was actually born in the city. It was in Cincinnati, Ohio, on November 5, 1911, that Leonard Slye (later to be known as Roy Rogers) was born to Mattie and Andy Slye. Years later, the building where he was born was torn down to make way for Riverfront Stadium (recently renamed Cinergy Field), the home of the Cincinnati Reds baseball team.

After several years of moving back and forth from Ohio to California in order to make a living, his family settled in California. His singing career began on their farm when Roy learned to yodel. That skill propelled him into entertaining, first on radio, then on stage, always with melodious harmonies. By the late 1930s he had his big break with Republic Pictures to begin his long and lustrous film career.

Roy never failed to give Trigger credit for much of his success. Through more than 80 films, 100 episodes of his TV series and countless personal appearances, Trigger never failed him. Smiley Burnette and Gabby Hayes were two memorable sidekicks, as well as his singing group Sons of the Pioneers. So now Republic had Roy Rogers (The King of the Cowboys), Trigger (the Smartest Horse in the Movies), Gabby Hayes (The Most-Beloved Sidekick), The Sons Of The Pioneers (The Finest Singing Group to be Heard), and Dale Evans (The Most Beautiful and Vivacious Leading Lady in Westerns). The package was complete.

Roy, with his first wife Aline, later with Dale Evans, raised many wonderful children. Their deep religious faith spurred them on through tragedies and joy. They wanted to preserve and share their success through ventures like the chain of Roy Rogers Family Restaurants, then the Roy Rogers Museum. Roy’s son, Dusty, built the Victorville Museum in 1976 with the larger-than-life statue of Trigger rearing up on his hind legs, greeting visitors. Then settled in Branson, MO, the museum continued to inspire and entertain the thousands who visited each year. Roy Rogers was a man who really didn't change over the years. Even though he became a hero to three generations of the world's children and adults, he continued to be the same decent, humble, and ever-smiling guy that he was back in the days of the Depression when he was struggling to make a living. He always remained grateful to the fans that had made his success possible and always felt a responsibility to live up to the public's image of him.

Roy Rogers was a man who unashamedly loved his God, his family, and his country. He was that rare public figure who was just the same on screen as he was off. He just wouldn't have known how to be anything else.

Roy Rogers was the first person to be elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame twice, first in 1980 as an original member of the Sons of the Pioneers and again in 1988 in recognition for his own contributions to country music.

Biography courtesy Roy Rogers Museum – www.royrogersmuseum.org

 

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