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Singer, actor. Born Orvon Gene Autry, on September 29, 1907, in Tioga, Texas. Best known as the "Singing Cowboy," Autry got his start in 1926 while singing and playing his guitar to pass the time at his telegraph operator's job. One night, a customer overheard him and told Rogers that he had enough talent to get a job on the radio. The meddling customer turned out to be Will Rogers, and Autry soon quit his job to find work in the music business.
Autry was a popular radio figure in the early 1930s and performed regularly at the W.L.S. National Barn Dance in Chicago, the oldest of the radio barn dances. In 1935, he moved to California permanently to break into the film business. Later that year, Autry signed with Republic Pictures and made his major film debut with The Phantom Empire. Autry, who also starred in Tumbling Tumbleweeds (1935), the first Western plotted around the main character's ability to sing, is credited with creating the musical Western.
When Roy Rogers also joined Republic Pictures, in 1938, the two actors became the country's best-loved cowboy team. Autry's other films included The Singing Cowboy (1937), Rhythm of the Saddle (1938), Sioux City Sue (1942), and The Strawberry Roan (1948). In 1950, Autry produced his own television series, The Gene Autry Show, which enjoyed six successful seasons on the air. By the early 1960s, Autry had retired from acting and devoted time to his numerous real estate and media ventures.
The winner of two Grammy Hall of Fame Awards, in 1985 and 1997, Autry is the only entertainer who boasted five stars on Hollywood's Walk of Fame for his work in motion pictures, radio, music recording, television, and live theater. Autry died on October 2, 1998; he was 91 years old.
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During the 1930s, partly to avoid the hillbilly image and partly owing to Hollywood's romance with the West, country music headed to the range. Western fringe and cowboy hats turned up on many singers onstage, while Gene Autry and Roy Rogers hit the country charts as "The Singing Cowboy" and the "King of the Cowboys," respectively. Autry made it big in Hollywood and on the radio, singing favorites like "Here Comes Santa Claus" and "Frosty the Snowman." Rogers and his wife, "Queen of the West" Dale Evans, also straddled the worlds of music and movies with their Wild West personas.
The association of country music with the wide open spaces of the western United States made such a deep impact on popular culture during this time that it never quite faded from the public perception of the country genre. To this day, Cowboy Country music serves as a reminder of our continued yearning for a life that's beautiful, pastoral and—ultimately—more simple.
Cowboy Country Singers 3 people in this group
When it comes to singing about struggle and emotion, there are few genres that match the intensity of country music. Country music was born from musicians that were brave enough to wear their hearts on their sleeves from happiness to heartache. Because of country icons like Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton and Jimmie Rodgers, this southern, soulful genre has grown to become loved by many. Browse through the legends that established country music as the popular genre that it is today.
Country Legends 18 people in this group
Got chaps? Their cowboy and cowgirl personas are tough, rugged, and wild—just like the frontier in which they come from—and in turn, they elicit the nostalgia of The Old West with its fierce individualism and sense of golden opportunity. From the indomitable swagger of John Wayne to the intimidating scowl of Clint Eastwood, explore our Wild West Film Actors group.
Notable Wild West Film Actors 15 people in this group