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Roy Rogers

Roy Rogers

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Sheriff Of Tombstone DVD King of the singing cowboys Roy Rogers is riding on a rocky road when Tombstone... more info $6.98was $6.98 Buy Now

Sunset Serenade DVD Head out West with the legendary Roy Rogers as he attempts to save a ranch from... more info $6.98was $6.98 Buy Now

Idaho DVD Watch as America's favorite cowboy comes to the rescue of a noble judge who... more info $6.98was $6.98 Buy Now

Utah DVD One of the true idols of Hollywood's Golden Age of Westerns, Roy Rogers stars in... more info $6.98was $6.98 Buy Now

Lights Of Old Santa Fe DVD Roy Rogers gallops to the rescue of Dale Evans, whose Wild West show is being... more info $6.98was $6.98 Buy Now

West Of The Badlands DVD America's greatest cowboy hero, Roy Rogers, teams up with his wife, Dale Evans,... more info $6.98was $6.98 Buy Now

Also Known As: Dick Weston, Leonard Franklin Slye, Weston Leonard, Len Slye, Leonard Slye, Dick Weston Died: July 6, 1998
Born: November 5, 1911 Cause of Death: congestive heart failure
Birth Place: Cincinnati, Ohio, USA Profession: actor, singer, fruit picker, factory worker

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Roy Rogers was hardly from the West. In fact, he was born in Cincinnati and never left the state of Ohio until he was 18 years old and followed his father to California where the family worked as migratory fruit pickers. In the early 1930s, Rogers shed his birth name of Leonard Slye and took the stage name 'Dick Wesson' when he formed the singing group The Sons of the Pioneers, who became popular on radio. In 1935, Republic Pictures signed him to a seven-year contract at $75 per week and still billed as 'Dick Wesson', he made his film debut in "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" (1935), a vehicle for Gene Autry. Rogers continued playing bit roles, but studio head Herbert Yates was grooming him for stardom. When Gene Autry walked off the lot in a contract dispute in 1938, it was Rogers' chance. Now billed as 'Roy Rogers' and often playing an onscreen character with that name, he had his first leading role in "Under Western Stars", as a singing cowpoke turned Washington Congressman. The film is a combination of Davy Crockett lore and "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" rip-off that defends the independence of the American westerner. Rogers was an instant hit, and was then usually teamed with Gabby Hayes as his sidekick....

Roy Rogers was hardly from the West. In fact, he was born in Cincinnati and never left the state of Ohio until he was 18 years old and followed his father to California where the family worked as migratory fruit pickers. In the early 1930s, Rogers shed his birth name of Leonard Slye and took the stage name 'Dick Wesson' when he formed the singing group The Sons of the Pioneers, who became popular on radio. In 1935, Republic Pictures signed him to a seven-year contract at $75 per week and still billed as 'Dick Wesson', he made his film debut in "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" (1935), a vehicle for Gene Autry. Rogers continued playing bit roles, but studio head Herbert Yates was grooming him for stardom. When Gene Autry walked off the lot in a contract dispute in 1938, it was Rogers' chance. Now billed as 'Roy Rogers' and often playing an onscreen character with that name, he had his first leading role in "Under Western Stars", as a singing cowpoke turned Washington Congressman. The film is a combination of Davy Crockett lore and "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" rip-off that defends the independence of the American westerner. Rogers was an instant hit, and was then usually teamed with Gabby Hayes as his sidekick. Virtually all of his films were in the singing cowboy mode, except for "Dark Command" (1940), in which he played the supporting part of Claire Trevor's trigger-happy brother who is trying to settle the question of whether or not Kansas should be slave state prior to the Civil War.

In 1944, he appeared in "The Cowboy and the Senorita". Playing a supporting role was Dale Evans, a band and radio singer with only a few films under her belt. In 1947, Rogers and Evans were married and began to make more than 20 films together. But the rise of TV had killed the Poverty Row studios which had made Rogers a star, and he joined the gallop of other lucky Western matinee stars into the new medium. From 1951-57, he starred with Evans in "The Roy Rogers Show" (NBC), riding his horse Trigger while Evans rode her Buttermilk. Each week, Rogers would save the West from some evildoers, and Evans would sing "Happy Trails to You", the song she wrote for the show. Rogers character was stalwart, homespun, never really kissed a girl lest his legion of young male fans get cross, and he never misrepresented the Native American characters either. While it was never publicized--although Rogers never hid it--Rogers' father was a full-blooded Cherokee. America's 'King of the Cowboys' was one of those "mixed breeds" that were often stereotyped in Hollywood films. After original production of "The Roy Rogers Show" ceased in 1957, the show ran on Saturday mornings and afternoons for many years, thus generating new legions of fans. Rogers and Evans hosted "The Chevy Show," an NBC variety series a few times in the late 50s, then, in 1962, ABC gave them their own short-lived variety series, "The Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Show".

Rogers began spending more and more time in the Apple Valley area of California, where he owned a ranch and numerous business interests. His net worth was estimated to be well over $100 million in the 80s. He opened the Roy Rogers Museum in Victorville, and would often greet the many fans who came to see the exhibits. And, as often reported, his horse Trigger, who went to his last round-up in 1955, was stuffed and displayed at the museum. But Rogers had not completely retired from show business. He made a guest appearance on "The Beverly Hillbillies" in 1964, and appeared occasionally on variety shows and on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson". Beginning in 1962, he toured with a stage show that played fairs and rodeos, as well as the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, although heart surgery in 1991 slowed him down somewhat.

Rogers and Evans guest hosted several installments of "The Nashville Palace" (NBC, 1981-82), recalled the by-gone days on the syndicated retrospective "The Singing Cowboys Ride Again" (1982), and even played a drunk in a small role in "The Gambler III: The Adventure Continues" (CBS, 1983), alongside new western singing star Kenny Rogers. His last feature film role was in "Mackintosh & T.J." (1975), about a religious old cowboy and his rebellious son. In the 90s, Dale Evans hosted a talk show for Christian cable distribution and Rogers often joined in her ministry on TV.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

2.
3.
 It's Showtime (1976) Himself
4.
 Mac Kintosh & T.J. (1975) Mackintosh
5.
7.
 Son of Paleface (1952) Roy Rogers
8.
 Spoilers of the Plains (1951) Roy Rogers
9.
 Heart of the Rockies (1951) Roy Rogers
10.
 In Old Amarillo (1951) Roy Rogers
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1919:
Father moved family to a farm in Duck Run, OH
1929:
Moved to California with family; picked peaches
:
Formed singing duo with cousin Stanley Slye
1931:
Radio debut as member of Tom Murray's Hollywood Hillbillies
:
Under stage name 'Dick Weston' formed Sons of the Pioneers singing group; performed on radio
1935:
Signed by Republic to contract; made film debut in "Tumbling Tumbleweeds"
1937:
Billed as Dick Weston, played a bandit opposite Gene Autry in "The Old Corral"
1938:
When Gene Autry walked out on Republic contract, renamed 'Roy Rogers' and later became 'King of the Cowboys'
1944:
Made first film with Dale Evans, "The Cowboy and the Senorita"
1951:
Made last B-Western, "Pals of the Golden West"
1951:
Starred on "The Roy Rogers Show" (NBC)
1952:
Last prominent film role for over 20 years, co-starring with Bob Hope in "Son of Paleface"
1959:
Made cameo appearance in "Alias Jesse James", starring Hope
1962:
Starred on "The Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Show" (ABC)
1975:
Returned to feature films in "MacKintosh & T.J."
:
Frequently guest-hosted (with Dale Evans) "The Nashville Palace" (NBC)
1982:
Appeared on retrospective "The Singing Cowboys Ride Again" (syndication)
1997:
Final public performance at 50th wedding anniversary celebration
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Notes

Roy Rogers was partnered in the fast-food chain that bears his name.

He founded the Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum in Victorville, CA

On working at Republic Pictures, Rogers told NEW YORK POST on March 13, 1991: "Well, you never made any money there, but you were working. In the 30s, that was important. But I was just thrilled to death to come to work every morning, because I was just a young guy, just getting started in the entertainment world."

"The most touching things happen at the museum. Adults, who were the kids that grew up with my pictures, come in and throw their arms around me like I'm a long-lost relative. There's tears running down this old boy's cheeks . . . you can't believe it. But for a few seconds he's six years old again." --Roy Rogers in NEW YORK POST, March 13, 1991

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Arlene Wilkins. Met in 1931; married from June 14, 1936 until her death on November 5, 1946 due to complications from giving birth to son Roy Jr; mother of Rogers two older daughters.
wife:
Dale Evans. Actor. Married on December 31, 1947 in Davis, Oklahoma; second wife; had one daughter Robin together; adopted four other children; had son from a previous marriage; died February 7, 2001 at age 88.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Andrew Slye. Factory worker. Part Cherokee.
mother:
Hattie Slye. Part Choctaw.
step-son:
Thomas Frederick Fox Jr. Born in 1927; mother, Dale Evans; survived him.
daughter:
Cheryl Arlene Rogers. Born in 1941; adopted with Arlene Wilkins; survived him.
daughter:
Linda Lou Rogers. Born on April 18, 1943; mother, Arlene Wilkins; survived him.
son:
Roy Rogers Jr. Born on October 28, 1946; mother, Arlene Wilkins.
daughter:
Robin Elizabeth Rogers. Born with Downs Syndrome on August 26, 1950; died on August 24, 1952.
daughter:
Mary Little Doe Rogers. Adopted with Dale Evans; born in October 1952; three-quarters Choctaw.
son:
John David Rogers. Adopted with Dale Evans in 1952; born in 1946; name changed from Harry; died on October 31, 1965 in Germany at age 19.
daughter:
Marion Rogers. Adopted with Dale Evans in 1954; Scottish; born in 1948.
daughter:
Debbie Lee Rogers. Adopted with Dale Evans in 1955; Korean-born; was killed in a bus accident on August 17, 1964.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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