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Roy Rogers was an American actor and singer best known as the “King of the Cowboys” for his heroic roles in musical westerns. His sidekick palomino, Trigger, and dog, Bullet often appeared with him.
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The Yellow Rose of Texas sparked an irresistible on-screen chemistry between the two, and Evans quickly gained the nickname "Queen of the Cowgirls," to match the moniker of her on-and-off-screen sweetheart. Between the years of 1944 and 1951, they appeared in nearly 30 films together. Particularly in the mid-to-late 1940s, the duo appeared in a string of back-to-back productions, among them The Cowboy and the Senorita (1944),
Utah (1945) and Apache Rose (1947).
From 1951-1957, Rogers starred in his own popular television series, The Roy Rogers Show, which also featured Evans. The song "Happy Trails," written by Evans, was the show's theme song. Following a revamping, the show aired again as The Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Show in 1962.
In 1965, Rogers and Evans established the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum in their hometown of Victorville, California. The museum featured Trigger, whom Rogers had preserved when the horse died that same year at the age of 33.
Throughout his life, Rogers was known as much for his kindness as for his movie roles. For instance, he appreciated his fans so much that he attempted to respond personally to every piece of mail he received, despite the fact that his film studio refused to pay for postage, and the cost came out of his own pocket. In 1988, for his achievement in the country music industry and in recognition of his inspiration to generations of country musicians, Rogers was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. In addition to numerous awards and accolades, he has four stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, in recognition of his achievements in radio, music, film, and television.
In 1936, Rogers married first wife Arlene Wilkins, who died after giving birth to their only son, Roy Jr., in 1946. The couple also had two daughters, Cheryl (adopted) and Linda Lou. Rogers married Dale Evans on New Year's Eve in 1947. Together they had a daughter, Robin--born with a heart defect and Down's syndrome—who died just days before her second birthday in 1952. In the 1950s, Rogers and Evans adopted four more children, known familiarly as Dodie, Sandy, Marion Swift and Debbie Lee. The Rogers family was struck with tragedy when, in 1964, Debbie died in a church bus accident, and again, in 1965, when Sandy choked to death while serving in the Army.
Six months after celebrating the 50th anniversary of his marriage to Evans, Rogers died in Victorville, California, on July 6, 1998, of congestive heart failure.
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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.
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