A few short months after the death of Roy Rogers, the world has lost another beloved cowboy star. Gene Autry, the original "singing cowboy" passed away on Friday in his home in Studio City, CA. He had been in failing health in the previous months. The cause of death has not been released at this time.
Gene was born on a ranch outside Tioga, Texas on September 29, 1907. He later moved to Achille, Oklahoma, then to Ravia, Oklahoma, where he went to school. His first singing job was in 1928 on KVOO, a local radio station, as "Oklahoma's Yodeling Cowboy."
He made his acting debut in 1931 in the movie In Old Santa Fe. He went on the following year to star in a 13-part serial, Phantom Empire, and then signed on with Republic Pictures.
Autry served his country from 1942-1946 as a flight officer with the Air Transport command. He then signed on with Columbia Pictures, later starting his own production company, Flying 'A' Pictures. In the 1950's he was the producer of such popular shows as The Gene Autry Show, Annie Oakley, and The Adventures of Champion.
Gene earned the nickname the "singing cowboy," and wrote over 200 songs, one being "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer." He also co-wrote what was to become his signature song, "Back in the Saddle Again." In the 1960's he retired from acting and concentrated fully on his business interests, one being the California Angels baseball team.
We will all surely feel the loss of Gene Autry. He gave so much to this world in both film and recordings, not to mention provided young people a role model in the 30's, 40's and 50's. His spirit will live on in the music and films he leaves behind.
Gene Autry at Roughstock
Gene Autry's Obituary
Autry Museum of Western Heritage
Gene Autry Museum
Gene Autry Film Fest 1997
First Gene Autry Melody Ranch Radio Program
All graphics © Shel Lahman.
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