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Monte Hale was the last of the great singing cowboys who roamed the silver screen in the first half of the twentieth century. Born in 1919, Monte bought his first guitar at age thirteen. He spent his teens in the great state of Texas playing guitar and singing in vaudeville houses, at rodeos and on the local radio stations. During World War II, Monte toured with a group promoting the sale of war bonds, where he met and befriended many influential individuals in the entertainment industry.
When Monte signed a seven-year contract with Republic Pictures in 1944, he quickly became the studio’s newest singing cowboy, starring in nineteen action-packed Westerns for Republic, many with costar Adrian Booth. His popularity was seen in the sales of his officially licensed comics books, millions of which were sold around the world in twenty seven-different languages. After his departure from Republic in 1950, he made several notable appearances as a guest star on film and television. Monte’s movie career was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2004.
Monte Hale played a good guy on-screen, but he was even more heroic when the cameras were turned off. Throughout his life, he always took the time to acknowledge his fans. At the height of his popularity, he made personal appearances all over the country, from veteran’s hospitals to local theatres. Monte especially loved children, and he gave free shows to kids wherever he was booked. In later years, he made frequent appearances at Western events and fan conventions. His charitable nature and humanitarian work have been honored by numerous organizations.
Monte’s great accomplishment occurred along side his beloved wife, Joanne, and their dear friends Gene and Jackie Autry, when in 1988 the group founded the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum, now the Autry National Center, in Los Angeles. Besides serving on the board of directors Monte took time out of his hectic schedule to share stories and offer kind words of encouragement to the museum staff. He was even known to personally greet guests in the lobby.
Monte Hale passed away on March 29, 2009, after a lengthy illness. He is survived by his wife, Joanne Hale, and his two brothers, Bill Hale and Bob Ely.
Both on and off screen, Monte’s infectious smile and generous nature touched the hearts of millions of individuals, especially Autry members and visitors. Monte will be dearly missed, but will never be forgotten.