Do You Know... Gene Autry?
Do you know…
…that Orvon Grover Autry
(born: September 29, 1907 in Tioga, Texas – died: October 2, 1998
in Studio City, California), better known as Gene
Autry, was an American performer who gained fame
as The Singing Cowboy on the radio, in movies and on television
for more than three decades beginning in the 1930s?
was also owner of the Los Angeles/California Angels Major
League Baseball team from 1961 to 1997, a television station
and several radio stations in Southern California.
Although his signature song was "Back in
the Saddle Again", Autry is best known today
for his Christmas holiday songs, "Here Comes Santa Claus"
(which he wrote), "Frosty the Snowman", and his biggest hit,
"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer".
He is a member of both the Country Music
and Nashville Songwriters halls of fame, and is the only
celebrity to have five stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
After leaving high school in 1925,
Autry worked as a telegrapher for the St. Louis–San
Autry signed a recording
deal with Columbia Records in 1929. He worked in Chicago,
Illinois, on the WLS-AM radio show National Barn Dance for
four years, and with his own show, where he met
singer-songwriter Smiley Burnette.
Discovered by film producer Nat Levine in
1934, Autry and Burnette made their film
debut for Mascot Pictures Corp. in In Old Santa Fe as part of
a singing cowboy quartet; he was then given the starring role
by Levine in 1935 in the 12-part serial The Phantom Empire.
Mascot was absorbed by the newly-formed
Republic Pictures Corp., and Autry went along
to make a further 44 films up to 1940, all B Westerns in which
he played under his own name, rode his horse Champion, had
Burnette as his regular sidekick, and had many opportunities
to sing in each film.
Pat Buttram was picked by Gene
Autry, recently returned from his World War
II service in the Army Air Force, to work with him. Buttram
would co-star with Gene Autry in more than 40 films, and in
over 100 episodes of Autry's television show.
purchased the 110 acre Monogram Movie Ranch in 1953, located
in Placerita Canyon near Newhall, California in the northern
San Gabriel Mountains foothills. He renamed it the Melody
Ranch after his movie Melody Ranch.
Autry served as a C-47
Skytrain pilot in the United States Army Air Forces, with the
rank of flight officer in the Air Transport Command during
World War II flying dangerous missions over the Himalayas,
nicknamed the Hump, between Burma and China.
died of lymphoma 3 days after his 91st birthday at his home in
Studio City, California. His death on October 2, 1998 came
fewer than three months after the death of another celebrated
cowboy of the silver screen, radio, and TV, Roy Rogers.
Burial: Forest Lawn
Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills), Los Angeles, California,
Plot: Sheltering Hills section, Grave 1048, just in front of
one of the statues.