Gene Autry biography
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.