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Triggers, Buttermilk, Bullet and Nellybelle

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"Trigger, the Smartest Horse in the Movies"


"Birth: July 4, 1934 - Death: July 3, 1965

"The Old Man", or as some call him, "Original Trigger" was foaled, July 4, 1934 on a small ranch in the San Diego area co-owned by Bing Crosby and named for its breeder manager Golden Cloud.

(Owner at time of birth: Mr. Roy F. Cloud Jr., San Diego, CA)


At around 3 years of age, the horse was sold to Hudkins Stables, a Hollywood provider of animals appearing in the movies.

(On March 25, 1937, 'Golden Cloud' was registered with the Palomino Horse Association and Stud Book Registry.)


Registry # was 214
Gender: Stallion
Bloodlines: half Thoroughbred and half Warm Blood
SIRE: Tarzan; Throughbred racing horse at Caliente Race Track
Breeder: Captain Larry Good
Dam: Apac; a light chestnut mare of aTB bloodlines
Golden Cloud stood 15 1/2 hands high.

Trigger (Golden Cloud) was the very horse that the Maid Marion (Olivia de Havilland) rode side saddle in the movie "The Adventures of Robin Hood" filmed in 1938. That's one of Golden Cloud (Trigger)'s roles on his way to superstardom.

Before filming began on "Under Western Stars", several of the stables that provided horses to Republic Studios brought their best lead horses to the studio so Roy could select a mount. As Roy recalled it, the third horse he got on was a handsome golden palomino who handled so well and reacted swiftly to whatever was asked of him. Reportedly after riding the horse just 100 yards, Roy never looked at another horse."He would turn on a dime and he'd give you 9 cents change," Roy said many times. Roy liked the horse so much, he purchased him for the amazing sum of $2,500.


'Trigger' a handle affixed to the animal was a name credited to Roy's sidekick Smiley Burnette, who upon seeing the horse running, commented how quick on the trigger this horse was. Roy agreed and decided that 'Trigger' was the perfect name.

Roy never used his reins, never a whip; and never used his spurs. Trigger had been trained to respond to touch and hand movements (like in the movie, "Horse Whisperer"), so with just a gentle pat on his neck, Roy would let him know just what he wanted him to do. And it seemed as if Trigger instinctively knew just how to respond. Roy Rogers once said that "he felt that Trigger seemed to know when people were watching him and that he recognized applause and just ate it up like a ham!"

As Trigger's career progressed in show business, he became known as "The Smartest Horse in the Movies," performing some 60 recognizable tricks: Counting, doing the hula, untying ropes, shooting a gun, knocking on doors and walking on his hind quarters. The horse was outfitted with a $5,000 gold and silver saddle. He was the focus of the movie "My Pal Trigger" where Rogers' in the story gives the name to a new born colt. Trigger also appeared in the Republic Films sequel Trigger, Jr. He appeared in all of Roy Rogers movies (188 movie and television shows) and was later joined by Buttermilk with Dale Evans astride.

Trigger was such an important part of Roy's life that he was sitting on top of Trigger when he proposed to Dale Evans during a show in Chicago, Illinois.

Roy and Trigger toured the country during World War II raising millions in the sale of bonds to aid the war effort. Trigger appeared regularly with Roy and Dale in the TV western series, "The Roy Rogers Show" on NBC from 1951 to 1957. By this time, Trigger did well over 100 tricks, and pulled off many of the stunts that the so-called stunt horses couldn't even do.

Due to his age and bein' infirmed, Trigger Jr. became his replacement.

On July 3, 1965 at the Rogers ranch in Hidden Valley, California, Trigger left this earth at the age of 30 (one day before he would turn 31); succumbed by old age. Reluctant to "put him in the ground," Roy was inspired by the animals on display in the Smithsonian. He decided to have Trigger mounted with his hide stretched over a plaster likeness in a reared position on two legs and put on display at the Roy Rogers- Dale Evans Museum located then in Victorville, California. The excellent mounted work was done by Bishoff's Taxidermy of California.

In 1953, Trigger won the P.A.T.S.Y. award (animal equivalent for the Oscar) and was also the 1958 Craven award winner. For a time, he had his own fan club with members from all over the world.

Trigger shared the spotlight with his pal, Roy Rogers at Grauhmann's Chinese Theater (it's now called Mann Theatre), Hollywood, California, April 21, 1949. Trigger and Roy share the same space together in cement with Trigger's hoofprints and Roy's footprints.

Due to dwindling attendance and the death of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, the museum was moved from Victorville, California to Branson, Missouri in 2003. Trigger can again be seen in full regalia - bridle, saddle, and martingale on exhibit at the Roy Rogers - Dale Evans Museum in Branson, Missouri.

**Tidbit
It's often been said that there were no accidents with Trigger durin' a performance. Questions were asked of Roy "Dusty" Rogers Jr. at the 2nd Anniversary Party (June 18, 2005) for the "Roy Rogers & Dale Evans Museum & Happy Trails Theatre". It was asked, "Did Trigger ever get hurt durin' a performance?" "YES, One time when Dad, Dale and Trigger were in England. Roy and Trigger were performin' their act on a big stage, and the stage, collasped! Trigger fell down through the stage. Everyone rushed over to get to Trigger and get him out. When they got him out on a solid surface, he scrambled to his feet without bein' hurt; just displayin' a few minor scratches here and there. It could have been alot worse!"

"Trigger Jr."



Birth: January 1, 1941 - Death: 1969

Voice Magazine (The official publication of the TWHBEA)says Trigger Jr. was a full-blooded Tennessee Walking Horse named Allen's Gold Zephyr! He was registered TWHBEA (#431975) and PHBA (#4055). The TWHBEA records show that he was foaled on January 1st, 1941.

"Paul K. Fisher, Souderton, Pennsylvania, advertised in the 1946 Blue Ribbon magazine as being the world's largest breeder and dealer in yellow horses.

He sold Trigger Jr. to Roy Rogers in 1948. Trigger Jr. registered as Allen's Gold Zephyr, was the most famous of all yellow horses.

His Sire: Barker's Moonbeam (#380497)
His dam: Fisher's Gray Maud (#420776)

He was bred by C. O. Barker, Readyville, Tennessee.

Barker's Moonbeam was sired by Golden Sunshine
dam: Golden Lady. All were palominos.

*Harold Dean Givens in The Voice of "The Tennessee Walking Horse Magazine" published in January, 1991.

~ALLEN'S GOLD ZEPHYR~ - TWHBEA #431975

Came from Paul K. Fisher's farm in Souderton, Pennsylvania. During the 1940's and 1950's, Paul was known for having the largest breeding farm in the U.S. for both palomino Tennessee Walking Horses and palomino Quarter Horses. His horses were in great demand, and among his prized stock was Allen's Gold Zephyr. He had beautiful conformation and a very stylish way of going. Zephyr was highly schooled and could accomplish a variety of difficult tricks.

* 'Roy Rogers Gene Autry and Their Tennessee Walkers'

by: Grace Larson
"Walking Horse News", September/October 2000

Trigger Jr. replaced the original "Trigger" when he became older and infirmed.

Trigger Jr. was mounted just like 'Trigger, the old man'. You may see him along with Trigger, Buttermilk and Bullet at the Roy Rogers - Dale Evans Museum and Happy Trails Theatre in Branson, MO.


"Little Trigger"


Little Trigger was eighteen months old when Roy Rogers purchased him. He was a beautiful stocky Quarter-type palomino that looked a lot like the 'Old Man Trigger' except he had four white stockings and was not quite as tall. Little Trigger was much more powerful through the neck and chest, he had a more dappled coat.

He was trained by Roy’s trainers, first, Jimmy Griffin and then Glenn Randall, for personal appearances and he had a large repertoire of crowd pleasing tricks.

Fans who saw Roy and Trigger in a personal appearance during the ‘40’s and on into the ‘50’s more than likely saw Little Trigger instead of the original Trigger. Little Trigger also made appearances in some of Roy’s films, notably Don’t Fence Me In, Heldorado, and Son of Paleface with Bob Hope and Jane Russell. Old Man Trigger also appeared in these films.

He was given the starring role in Trigger Jr. (1950).

(The followin' words are from a quote, by Roy and Dale's daughter, Cheryl Rogers - Barnett).

"'Old Trigger' remained Dad's favorite, but there were actually other Triggers. Dad bought Little Trigger (the "Little Horse") a couple of years after he bought 'Old Trigger'.

He purchased the second horse primarily to spare wear and tear on 'Old Trigger'. He wanted a horse that he could take on the road; he only used 'Old Trigger' for the movies. With easin' the travelin' load from 'Old Trigger; Little Trigger took over and performed with Dad, all over the USA!

He was very mischievious. When they were on stage, Little Trigger would sometimes take a nip of Dad's's back. On his own, Little Trigger would edge up to him and take a small piece of his shirt and a few times he got more than his shirt. It wasn't to hurt Dad but to aggravate him. You know, Dad NEVER broke him from that either!

The only time Little Trigger 'starred' in a movie was, "Trigger, Jr". It was specifically written for him; otherwise he doubled for 'The Old Man'!

Dad never publicly admitted that there was more than one Trigger. He always said that he didn't want to confuse the little kids who loved Trigger. The fans knew about Trigger Jr. — the studio even had a contest to name him when Dad first got him — but Little Trigger was a secret." …

Roy's only regret; not havin' Little Trigger mounted and put in the museum like Trigger, the old man; Trigger Jr., Buttermilk and Bullet.
*Great Books to Learn Facts on the Triggers*


No Longer in Print
 Comin' - Fall 2007
"Trigger Remembered" by William N. Witney, the screen's foremost action director (with a foreward by Alan G. Barber, Kew Gardens, NY). Witney's seventy-eight page book is one great source of information on the three palominos that graced the life of the King of the Cowboy, Roy Rogers' life for many years. Many may ask how this man knows all the information that's packed in that little book. Well, he was right there on the spot. He directed many of Roy's movies (twenty-seven or twenty-eight).

William Witney loved 'Trigger the Old Man', almost as much as Roy did. He writes an affectionate Tribute to the "Smartest Horse in the Movies" throughout his book.

This little book is a fabulous collection of behind-the-scene stories and avecdotes vividly illustrated with dozens of rare photos!

For those who are the lucky ones to have a rare copy of his book, better take care of it, as I heard some were sellin' on ebay for over $600.

"An Illustrated History of Trigger: The Lives and Legend of Roy Rogers' Palomino" by Leo Pando (with a foreword by Corky Randall) is published by McFarland & Co. Trigger was a composite of the original horse, a number of look-alikes and one extraordinary double (rarely acknowledged by Rogers) named Little Trigger. The book covers the life story of the original horse and the look-alikes, as well as the story of Trigger the legend.
Includes photographs, tables, notes, filmography, bibliography, index. Illustrations include many rare (some previously unpublished) photographs gathered from Trigger collectors nation-wide. This 7 x 10 hardcover is $55.00.

Our local branch of Barnes & Noble told us this book's issue date was November 28, 2007. More info at the McFarland website: *An Illustrated History of Trigger*

You can also order the book at Amazon.com .



"Buttermilk"

Birth: 1941 - Death: 1972

Buttermilk was a young colt when he was rescued by a cattle farmer. He and other horses were on their way to the slaughter house The farmer bought him from a horse trader. The horse had been severely abused and was very mean. The new owners quickly began to work with him, and eventually he came around to become friendly and affectionate. These folks named him Taffy, and were training him to become a ropin' and cutting horse in competition.

Buttermilk was called 'Soda' when Hollywood legend trainer, Glenn Randall bought him. Buttermilk was a Quarter Horse gelding. He was offered to Dale Evans because her movie horse 'Koko' was too much to handle and he resembled Trigger too much. Dale fell in love with Soda and bought him. He was renamed after Dale saw a cloud pattern in the sky that reminded her of Hoagy Carmichael's song, "Ole Buttermilk Sky." Dale rode Buttermilk in almost all of Roy's movies and in all but six of The Roy Rogers Show television episodes that aired from 1951-57. A true Quarter Horse, Buttermilk displayed bursts of speed and could out run Trigger. On the set, Roy asked Dale to please hold Buttermilk back when riding along side of him. The Palomino they called "Trigger", always had to lead.

Buttermilk died at age 31 and was given the same treatment as his counterpart Trigger. His hide was stretched over a plaster likeness and put on display at the Roy-Rogers-Dale Evans Museum then located in Victorville, California.

Buttermilk can still be seen riding those Happy Trails in the Roy Rogers - Dale Evans Museum in Branson, MO.



"Bullet, the Wonder Dog"

Birth: 1949 - Death: 1971 (death year courtesy of Donald Morecraft)

Bullet was the German shepherd on the western adventure THE ROY ROGERS SHOW
NBC 1951-57 - CBS 1961-64.

"Bullet Von Berge" was the AKA Registered German Sheperd given name of 'Bullet'. He was billed as a 'wonder dog,' and made his debut in the Roy Roger's film 'Spoiler's of the Plains' in 1951, produced by Republic Pictures. The dog then was a regular on the western adventure series 'The Roy Rogers Show' on NBC television. The big beautiful German Shepherd was the faithful companion of Roy and Dale who often helped the duo maintain law and order in the western town of Mineral City; although was mostly seen running alongside of Roy's horse Trigger. When he passed on, a mounting was made by stretching the hide over a plaster likeness and can now be seen in the Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum in Branson, Missouri.

**Tidbit**
It's been said by the Rogers Family, there were three different Bullets through the years.




"Nellybelle"


Nelly belle was a 1946 Willys CJ-2A Jeep, which had some unusual bodywork. It was in fact owned by Roy, but was driven in the show by his comic sidekick, Pat Brady. The name apparently developed out of Pat riding an ornery mule in the earlier movies, and addressing it with phrases like "Whoa, Nelly!"

In most episodes of the show, Nellybelle's name is painted on her doors.

The Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum in Branson, MO closed it's doors December 12, 2009. Most of the museum items have/are going up on the auction block.




Roy Roger & Trigger
Life Magazine - July 12, 1943


Happy Trails Forever,
~Buffalo Gal~

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