Roy Rogers

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Roy Rogers with Dale Evans (1989)

Roy Rogers (born November 5, 1911 in Cincinnati , Ohio as Leonard Franklin Slye ; † July 6, 1998 in Apple Valley , California ) was an American country singer and actor , who was primarily known as "Singing Cowboy" in numerous westerns became known between 1938 and 1953. As the founder of the band Sons of the Pioneers , he was one of the stars of country music.


Childhood and youth

Rogers was born to the poor couple Andrew ("Andy") Slye and Mattie Womack. In 1912, Rogers' father, disappointed with city life, built a houseboat that the family used to travel up the Ohio River and settle near Portsmouth , Ohio. In 1919 the family bought a farm in Ohio. However, Rogers' father quickly realized that the farm could not support his family and worked in various factories. Meanwhile, his son Roy developed his riding skills, which were later shown in his films. After years of poverty and hard work, he hitchhiked to California in 1930 , where he made a living as a day laborer for a while.


Roy Rogers sings with the Spade Cooley Band on the TV show This Is Your Life
Peace In the Valley

He entered the local music scene through a singing competition. Here he met Bob Nolan and Tim Spencer, with whom he founded the Pioneer Trio in 1933, from which the Sons of the Pioneers emerged. The group soon enjoyed great success. Despite regular concerts and radio recordings, the Sons of the Pioneers found time to take on minor roles in western films. In 1937, Rogers replaced the western star Gene Autry in the adventure film Under Western Stars , who had fallen out with his studio. After just a few films, he had surpassed Autry in the audience's favor and had become the most famous cowboy actor. There were Roy Rogers action figures, Roy Rogers novels, a Roy Rogers comic, and more than 2000 fan clubs. He earned $ 50 million a year just from marketing the fan articles.

In 1946, a group of actors and investors, including Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers , founded the Pioneertown settlement northwest of Yucca Valley . This should serve as a backdrop for western films , but it should still be able to be used by the film crews after the end of shooting. For this purpose, buildings were erected that looked like a typical western town from the 19th century. Inside, however, they housed modern facilities such as ice cream parlors , a bowling alley or motels . Originally the new place was to be named after Roy Rogers Rogersville . Ultimately, however, it was named after the Sons of the Pioneers .

In 1947 Rogers married his third wife, film and singing partner Dale Evans . This marriage resulted in a daughter who was born with Down syndrome and died shortly before her second birthday. In addition to his three children from his first marriage, Rogers and Evans adopted other children. Together they sang the theme song she wrote, Happy Trails to You, Until We Meet Again ... her television show The Roy Rogers Show .

In parallel to his acting activities, Roy Rogers continued to record, occasionally with his old friends from the Pioneers and with his wife. In 1972 he had another hit with Candy Kisses . In 1991 the album Tribute was created , with which many current stars of country music such as Clint Black and Randy Travis honored the 79-year-old Rogers. Rogers was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame twice, in 1980 as a member of the Sons of the Pioneers and in 1988 as a solo artist.

Rogers was a Christian and a Freemason and a vehement opponent of gun control who appeared in television commercials for the NRA . He received not only one star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1752 Vine Street for his contribution to film history, but also a second star at 1733 Vine Street for his contribution to radio history and a third star at 1620 Vine Street for his contribution to the television industry .


In 1967 the Roy Rogers - Dale Evans Museum opened in Victorville , California , directly on Route 66 . Various items of clothing, pictures and saddles were exhibited in the museum, as well as the prepared horses Trigger and Dales Buttermilk and Rogers' sheepdog Bullet, who had accompanied him in numerous films. The museum moved to Branson , Missouri in 2003 and was closed in late 2009 due to declining visitor numbers.

The exhibits were auctioned off in various auctions at Christie's from 2010 . His Gibson guitar changed hands for $ 43,000, his stuffed horse Trigger for $ 266,500, and his saddle for $ 386,500.


  • In the 1938 film Robin Hood, King of the Vagabonds, Olivia de Havilland rides a horse named Golden Cloud. After the film work was over, it was bought by Roy Rogers and, under the new name Trigger, one of the most famous animals in show business. Trigger was groomed after his death in 1965.
  • On his mother's side, Rogers was of Indian descent. In 1967 a group of Indian tribes voted him “Outstanding Indian Citizen of the Year”.
  • In the film Die Hard , the main character John McClane describes himself as a Rogers fan, and lets himself be called Roy in order not to reveal his identity.

Filmography (selection)

  • 1936: The Old Corral (anonymous)
  • 1938: Under Western Stars
  • 1938: Billy the Kid Returns
  • 1939: Arizona Kid (The Arizona Kid)
  • 1939: A Cowboy in New York (Wall Street Cowboy)
  • 1939: Southward Ho
  • 1939: Saga Of Death Valley
  • 1939: Rough Riders Round Up
  • 1939: Jesse James under suspicion (Days Of Jesse James)
  • 1939: Back then in Caliente (In Old Caliente)
  • 1940: The Ranger And The Lady
  • 1940: Colorado
  • 1940: Young Bill Hickok
  • 1940: The Carson City Kid
  • 1940: West Of The Badlands
  • 1940: Young Buffalo Bill
  • 1940: Dark Command (Dark Command)
  • 1941: In Old Cheyenne
  • 1941: Sheriff of Tombstone (Sheriff Of Tombstone)
  • 1941: Badman Of Deadwood
  • 1941: Robin Hood Of The Pecos
  • 1942: Sunset On The Desert
  • 1942: South of Santa Fe
  • 1942: Man From Cheyenne
  • 1942: Ridin 'Down The Canyon
  • 1942: The Old Spanish Trail
  • 1942: Sunset Serenade
  • 1942: The men of the Golden West (Heart of the Golden West)
  • 1943: Idaho
  • 1943: King Of The Cowboys
  • 1943: Silver Spurs
  • 1943: Song Of Texas
  • 1944: Hands Across The Border
  • 1944: Lights From Old Santa Fe
  • 1944: Cowboy And The Senorita
  • 1944: San Fernando Valley
  • 1944: Song Of Nevada
  • 1944: Yellow Rose Of Texas
  • 1944: Brazilian Serenade (Brazil)
  • 1944: Hollywood Canteen
  • 1945: Bells Of Rosarita
  • 1945: Utah
  • 1945: Eldorado Serenade (Sunset in El Dorado)
  • 1946: Heldorado
  • 1946: Rainbow Over Texas
  • 1946: Home in Oklahoma
  • 1946: Gunfire at the Ranch (My Pal Trigger)
  • 1946: Under Nevada Skies
  • 1946: Song Of Arizona
  • 1947: Bells Of San Angelo
  • 1947: Apache Rose
  • 1948: Music, Dance and Rhythm (Melody Time)
  • 1948: Night Time In Nevada
  • 1948: Under California Stars
  • 1948: Eyes Of Texas
  • 1948: Grand Canyon Trail
  • 1948: The Far Frontier
  • 1952: Pale Face Junior (Son Of Paleface)
  • 1959: One Shot and 50 Dead (aka Jesse James) (cameo as Roy Rogers)
  • 1975: Mackintosh and TJ
  • 1983-1984: The Fall Guy (The Fall Guy) (TV series, two episodes, as Roy Rogers and dedicated to him)


  • 1961: The Bible Tells Me
  • 1990: The Best Of Roy Rogers
  • 2003: Roy Rogers Stampede
year title Chart placements album
US Country CA Country
1946 "A Little White Cross on the Hill" 7th - only released as a single
1947 "My Chickashay Gal" 4th -
1948 "Blue Shadows on the Trail"
(Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers)
6th -
"(There'll Never Be Another) Pecos Bill"
(Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers)
13 -
1950 "Stampede" 8th -
1970 "Money Can't Buy Love" 35 - The Country Side of Roy Rogers
1971 "Lovenworth" 12 33 A Man from Duck Run
"Happy Anniversary" 47 -
1972 "These Are the Good Old Days" 73 - only released as a single
1974 "Hoppy, Gene and Me" A 15th 12 Happy Trails to You
1980 "Ride Concrete Cowboy, Ride"
(Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers)
80 - Smokey & the Bandit II (Soundtrack)
1991 "Hold on Partner" (with Clint Black ) 42 48 tribute

Individual evidence

  1. Alyson Krueger: Pioneertown Wants to Be the New Old West , The New York Times , May 18, 2016

Web links

Commons : Roy Rogers  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files