Roy Rogers & Dale Evans Memorials
In Loving Memory of Roy Rogers, **King of the Cowboys** and Dale Evan's, **Queen of the West**. Below are Memorials and Tributes to our #1 "cowboy couple"!!
November 5th, 1911 - July 6th, 1998
By: Joel Dortch
Copyright © Don Davis
**A Roy Rogers Biography**
The name Roy Rogers personifies the values, tradition and spirit that are at the heart of our rich American Heritage. His name is synonymous with integrity, honesty, quality and family values. He was a superstar who consistently delivered a wholesome brand of honest entertainment suitable for the entire family. What made him unique among those who have achieved great renown and popularity, was that there was no difference between the screen persona and Roy Rogers, the man. In fact, in all but a few of his early films, Roy played himself, not a character or a role. He was the same man off the screen as on. Roy Rogers was a Christian, who was not ashamed to boldly witness for his Lord. At the top of his career in 1950, he and Dale made a decision to include a religious song in each of their many live performances. They made this momentous decision after all their advisers counseled against it. When threatened with the cancellation of their lucrative contract at the huge Madison Square Garden World Championship Rodeo, if they didn’t delete the religious segment from their show, Roy stood firm for what he believed was right. While he would have been disappointed, he was fully prepared to walk away if necessary rather than compromise his beliefs. Eventually management relented, and Roy and Dale enjoyed one of the most successful engagements and largest grosses in the history of the Garden. In later years, Roy and Dale appeared many times with Billy Graham in Crusades all over the country, singing gospel songs and giving their testimony.
Roy was a loving husband and proud father of nine children, with 15 grandchildren, and 33 great-grandchildren. He and Dale truly had an International family, adopting Dodie, an American Indian girl, Debbie, a Korean American girl, and Sandy, a little boy from Kentucky, who had been severely abused. Marion , a foster daughter from Scotland, came to live with them as a teenager. Roy and Dale loved children and spent a lifetime devoted to children and children’s charities, including the Happy Trails Children’s Foundation for severely abused and neglected children. Through the years, they made hundreds of visits to children’s hospitals and orphanages all over the country. Roy made many long-distance phone calls at his own expense to sick and dying children. He was not a stranger to sorrow and tragedy. He lost his first wife, Arlene, one week after Dusty was born, leaving him with an infant and two small girls, Cheryl and Linda. He and Dale lost their only biological child, Robin, who was buried on her second birthday. Debbie, their adopted Korean American daughter, died in a church bus crash when she was twelve years old and Sandy, their little Rebel from Kentucky, died while serving in the Army in Germany. Roy was a patriot who loved his flag and country. He sold millions of dollars worth of War Bonds during World War II and made numerous USO tours of military bases with Trigger, performing for the men and women in uniform. During one record setting tour of Texas bases, Roy and Trigger made 136 performances in just 20 days! Years later he made a tour of Vietnam, to cheer up the troops fighting there.
Roy was a firm believer in our 2nd Amendment Rights, and in fact appeared in TV commercials as an NRA spokesman, opposing a proposed gun ban in California. He was an outstanding citizen and was asked to run for Congress on the Republican ticket at one time. His reply, “I have both Democrat and Republican fans and I can’t afford to lose any of them!”
Even though he was the ‘King of the Cowboys,’ Roy never forgot his humble beginnings in Duck Run, Ohio, as Leonard Slye. A farm boy, active in 4-H, he originally wanted to be a Dentist or Physician, so he could help people and “fix” their physical problems. But that was not meant to be. He dropped out of high school after two years, to go to work in a shoe factory beside his dad, to help bolster the family income. The family made a trip to California in 1930 to visit Roy’s older sister. After returning to Ohio, he got to the point where he couldn’t stand the inside of the shoe factory so he returned to California and took jobs driving dump trucks and picking peaches.
The one bright spot in his life was always music. Roy had an excellent singing voice and his films featured some of the most popular songs of all time and his movies only made them more popular. He began singing with various country and western groups, eventually forming the "Pioneer Trio" with Bob Nolan and Tim Spencer. They developed a unique style of close harmony with a distinctive sound and soon became very popular on the radio and in concerts in Southern California. With the addition of fiddle player Hugh Farr, they became known as the "Sons of the Pioneers", when a radio announcer thought they looked too young to be Pioneers. As their popularity increased, they received offers to appear in movies with Gene Autry, Dick Foran, Bing Crosby, and Charles Starrett.
Roy auditioned for the role of a singing cowboy at Universal but lost out to a young man named Leland Weed, who starred briefly in B-Westerns as Bob Baker. Later, he heard that Republic was searching for a new singing cowboy star, to give their own Gene Autry some competition. Roy sneaked into the studio and ran into Sol Siegel, who remembered him from his appearances in the Autry films. Siegel arranged an audition and young Slye, then 26, was soon signed to a contract for $75.00 per week.
Roy never had an acting or singing lesson, but he worked hard at becoming the best singing cowboy he could possibly be. He rented a horse and spent many hours in the saddle, learning how to make himself look like he was born on the range. He got a pair of six-shooters and practiced everything there was to know about handling a gun - twirling, spinning, shooting, and practicing his fast draw. Roy’s first starring film was released in 1938, *Under Western Stars*, which became an instant hit. From 1943 through 1954, (the last year the survey was made,) Roy was the number one ranked Cowboy Star, based on box office receipts. For a few years, he ranked in the top ten for all movie stars! His career was unparalleled by virtually any other entertainer. In addition to his movies being number one, his television shows were among the highest rated of their time, his records topped the charts, he set personal appearance attendance records and he was a one man industry with his name and likeness on hundreds of products from cookies to toys to clothing.
Roy’s films were based on a formula that included action, romance, and comedy, they had something for everyone. His pictures contained some of the most innovative action sequences ever recorded on film, a testament to the skilled directors, cameramen, stuntmen, and special effects people at Republic. They were the best in the business and they took a lot of pride in their work. None of the major studios at that time could even come close to capturing on film the exciting action that was a part of every Rogers film. The musical production numbers in some of his films rivaled those of MGM. If they had been filmed in Technicolor, they would have indeed been spectacular. In 1944, after a string of leading ladies that included some of the most beautiful young actresses in Hollywood, Dale Evans joined Roy in The Cowboy and the Senorita. Together, they starred in 28 films. Roy and Trigger, along with Dale Evans, Gabby Hayes, and the "Sons of the Pioneers", formed one of the greatest movie teams of all time! Roy’s screenplays were well written and always had a moral lesson for the legions of boys and girls who saw his films. Off screen, Roy lived by the same high standards and moral life he portrayed on screen. He had a more positive influence on the lives of boys and girls growing up in America in the 40’s and 50’s than any other single individual.
Roy Rogers was one of the most loved, respected and honored men of this century. Roy was a man of many talents and interests and he had the time and money to pursue his varied interests. He was an outstanding athlete. Making westerns is a physically demanding job, and Roy performed many of his own stunts. He had superior hand/eye coordination and was an excellent marksman, with handguns, rifles, shotguns, bow and arrow, and even a slingshot. He became a superb horseman, perhaps the best of all the leading men in Hollywood, and he had the good fortune to own and ride the greatest horse to ever appear in motion pictures, Trigger. He was a rancher, horse breeder and trainer. He was a sportsman, outdoorsman, hunter and fisherman. He was an avid bowler and an occasional golfer. Roy was a motorcycle riding, speedboat racer. He was a successful businessman and entrepreneur, restauranteur, and real estate developer. He was a philosopher, philanthropist and raconteur. He had a way with animals and told this writer that he owned 37 coon dogs when he and Dale got married. He even raised and raced racing pigeons at one time.
Roy was a 33rd Degree Mason and a true friend of everyone. He was an honorary Life Member of the Single Action Shooting Society and a major supporter of the fast growing sport of Cowboy Action Shooting. He was a genuine legend in his own time and he will be missed by all of us who follow the Code of the West - the Cowboy Way!
While others left their mark here by doing it "their way," Roy Rogers left his mark in us with each act of selflessness, care, and conviction. Who of his profession comforted more lonely orphans, brought joy to more hurting children's hospital rooms, or rode a straighter trail as a generation's role model? Who stood as bravely or paid more dearly for the right to publicly and unashamedly honor God in the course of all his programs?
How do we honor this life of courage, generosity, and integrity? Though we rename boulevards or commission memorials to his memory in major cities around the nation, there is not adequate pavement, parchment, or bronze in America, and, it would miss the point. Already, his legacy is firmly erected in our hearts and we require no monuments or reminders to pause there frequently for a pure memory or another moment of warm admiration.
Goodbye Roy Rogers ... good guys everywhere miss you. We'll miss you too, but
thanks to the Good Lord who took much more than a liking to you, it won't be long. And now, after bringing compassion and strength to so many, your Heavenly Father holds you in His perfect care and His complete joy forever.
Todd Halberg - 1998
October 31st, 1912 - February 7th, 2001
Dale was born Frances Octavia Smith, October 31, 1912 in Uvalde, Texas—a place of birth that would be quite significant later in her career.
**A Dale Evans Biography**
At age fourteen, Dale eloped with her high school sweetheart. A year later, she found herself in Memphis, Tennessee a single parent, pursuing a career in a field she had always loved—music!
She landed a job with local radio stations (WMC and WREC, for all you trivia buffs) singing and playing piano.
A brief stint at radio station WHAS as staff singer proved a landmark event as it was here she became Dale Evans. Initially, she used her married name; Frances Fox then changed to Marian Lee. Marian Lee was rather like a "Nom de Song" used by young singers just getting started. The station manager, a man by the name of Joe Eaton, thought the name trite and trendy. He informed her that he was changing her name to Dale. She protested that this was a boy’s name but he told her of a beautiful actress of the silent film era whom he had admired named Dale Winter. He wanted her to have the name in honor of her. The surname, Evans, came about as Joe Eaton felt it was "euphonious" and would roll easily from the lips of announcers.
As Dale Evans, she ultimately reached Chicago, home of great music and talented bands. She became a vocalist with a number of different "big bands" and was featured soloist in such notable hotels as the Blackstone (Balinese Room), the Sherman (Panther Room, along with jazz legend, Fats Waller), the Drake (Camellia Room) and the Chez Paree Supper Club. Anson Weeks hired her as vocalist for his orchestra just as they began a major tour to the West Coast. After a two-month stand at The Coconut Grove, Dale left the Orchestra and returned to Chicago where she was hired as staff singer for radio station WBBM, the local CBS affiliate. Talent scouts from Paramount Studios discovered her and arranged a screen. test in Hollywood for the movie, "Holiday Inn", starring Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby. Dale’s dancing wasn’t quite up to Astaire's, so she didn’t get the part. Her agent, however, showed her screen test to 20th Century Fox studios where she received a one-year contract. This resulted in only small parts in two pictures, "Orchestra Wives" and "Girl Trouble". Dale then signed with the top ranked Chase and Sanborn Show which was broadcast nationwide. Featured as regulars with Dale were Don Ameche, Jimmy Durante, Edgar Bergen (Candice Bergen’s father) and Charlie McCarthy. Weekly guests read like a Who’s Who of the entertainment industry.
This exposure caused Republic Studios to sign her to a one-picture contract ("Swing Your Partner") with a one-year option. The option was exercised and she was cast in several contemporary movies and one John Wayne western in which her singing was featured.
Herbert Yates, head of Republic Studios was inspired by the successful stage play, "Oklahoma", and decided to expand the female lead in westerns and adopt this format for one of his biggest stars, Roy Rogers. Dale, he reasoned, had a large following and reputation as a singer and, being from Texas, could surely ride ‘n rope. His reasoning proved correct on the former but somewhat suspect on the latter. Nevertheless, history was made and destiny seemingly fulfilled in 1944 with release of *The Cowboy and The Senorita*—the first of 28 films they would make together. Roy and Dale were married New Year's Eve, 1947, on the Flying L Ranch in Davis, Oklahoma. They had just finished the makin' of, "Home in Oklahoma".
An instant family was formed. Dale had her son, Tom, and Roy had an adopted daughter, Cheryl, and birth children Linda Lou and Roy Rogers, Jr., "Dusty", from his first wife, Arline, who had died after Dusty’s birth. Roy and Dale had one child together, Robin, whose death from complications associated with Down’s syndrome inspired Dale’s classic book, "Angel Unaware". The family swelled with the addition of Mary Little Doe (Dodie), of Native American heritage: John David (Sandy), a battered child from an orphanage in Kentucky; Marion (Mimi), their foster child from Scotland; and Debbie, a Korean War orphan whose father was a G.I. of Puerto Rican ancestry.
The family lost three of the children tragically: Robin (as mentioned above), Debbie, in a church bus accident when she was twelve, and Sandy of an accidental death while serving with the military in Germany.
In 1950, Roy and Dale developed their own production company and began producing their half-hour television series, *The Roy Rogers Show*, that ran until 1957. These episodes have been translated into every major language and, at any given time, are likely being shown somewhere in the world. The same is true of their movies.
They have set appearance records in virtually every major arena in the world, including Madison Square Garden in New York City, the Houston Fat Stock Show, Los Angeles Coliseum, Chicago Stadium, Harringay Arena in London, Toronto’s Canadian National Exhibition, and many state fairs and rodeos.
Among the many honors of which Dale was most proud are: California Mother of the Year (1967);
The Texas Press Association’s Texan of the Year (1970); Cowgirl Hall of Fame (1995); Cardinal Terrence Cook Humanities Award (1995); and her three stars on The Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Full retirement proved an elusive concept for Dale, as she and Roy were as visible as ever, despite accepting only an extremely limited number of engagements. Dale continued as a best selling author and always seemed to have at least one book in development. There was also her weekly television show A Date With Dale for Trinity Broadcast Network. It, too, was translated into all the major languages and shown worldwide. And then there is The Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum in Victorville, California which vividly chronicled their lives, and the values and ethics that represent the basis of their worldwide appeal. Her "quality time" was spent as matriarch to a small nation of grandchildren, 30+ great-grandchildren.
BE HAPPY FOR ME! - It was for this to glorify my God and Saviour: that I was born. Please do not grieve for me. REJOICE! - that my pilgrimage is over and I am now HOME. Praise to almighty God the miraculous work of Jesus Christ in my life - for the way He wonderfully saved my soul in the spring of 1948 - when He gave me a new life centered in Him - a rich cup of life with every experience He deemed necessary for my growth as a Christain and a child of God.
If at this time, the Lord would grant me one wish for you - one last wish, it would be this: that you experience and know the reality of Jesus Christ in your life. To know Him and to follow Him is to LIVE - now and for eternity. My Lord Jesus said"I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am, ye might be also; in My Father's House are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you."
BE HAPPY FOR ME! - I am now with my beloved Roy and until we meet again, may God abundantly bless you and keep you in the Light of His Matchless Love.
So long for now Roy and Dale, for we will meet again! But until then, you keep ridin' those heavenly trails on Trigger and Buttermilk.
Happy Trails 'til we see ya in Heaven,
~ Buffalo Gal ~