Roy Rogers


Actor
Roy Rogers

About

Also Known As
Dick Weston, Leonard Franklin Slye, Weston Leonard, Len Slye, Leonard Slye
Birth Place
Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Born
November 05, 1911
Died
July 06, 1998
Cause of Death
Congestive Heart Failure

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 becam...

Family & Companions

Arlene Wilkins
Wife
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.
Dale Evans
Wife
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.

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

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. 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.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Hellhounds on My Trail: The Afterlife of Robert Johnson (1999)
Roy Rogers: King of the Cowboys (1992)
Himself
It's Showtime (1976)
Himself
Mac Kintosh & T.J. (1975)
Alias Jesse James (1959)
The Heart of Show Business (1957)
Son of Paleface (1952)
Roy Rogers
Pals of the Golden West (1951)
Roy Rogers
In Old Amarillo (1951)
Roy Rogers
Spoilers of the Plains (1951)
Roy Rogers
Heart of the Rockies (1951)
Roy Rogers
South of Caliente (1951)
Roy Rogers
Twilight in the Sierras (1950)
Roy Rogers
Trail of Robin Hood (1950)
Roy Rogers
Sunset in the West (1950)
Roy Rogers
Bells of Coronado (1950)
Roy Rogers
North of the Great Divide (1950)
Roy Rogers
Trigger, Jr. (1950)
Roy Rogers
The Golden Stallion (1949)
Roy Rogers
Susanna Pass (1949)
Roy Rogers
Down Dakota Way (1949)
Roy Rogers
The Far Frontier (1948)
Roy Rogers
Night Time in Nevada (1948)
Roy Rogers
Under California Stars (1948)
Roy Rogers
Eyes of Texas (1948)
Roy Rogers
The Gay Ranchero (1948)
Roy Rogers
Grand Canyon Trail (1948)
Roy Rogers
Melody Time (1948)
Springtime in the Sierras (1947)
Roy Rogers
Bells of San Angelo (1947)
Roy Rogers
Apache Rose (1947)
Roy Rogers
On the Old Spanish Trail (1947)
Roy Rogers
Hit Parade of 1947 (1947)
Out California Way (1946)
Song of Arizona (1946)
Roy Rogers
Heldorado (1946)
Roy Rogers
Roll on Texas Moon (1946)
Roy Rogers
My Pal Trigger (1946)
Roy Rogers
Rainbow Over Texas (1946)
Roy Rogers
Home in Oklahoma (1946)
Roy Rogers
Under Nevada Skies (1946)
Roy Rogers
Along the Navajo Trail (1945)
Roy
Sunset in Eldorado (1945)
Roy Rogers
Utah (1945)
Roy Rogers
Man from Oklahoma (1945)
Roy Rogers
Bells of Rosarita (1945)
Himself
Don't Fence Me In (1945)
Roy Rogers
Hollywood Canteen (1944)
Brazil (1944)
Song of Nevada (1944)
Roy Rogers
Lights of Old Santa Fe (1944)
Roy Rogers
San Fernando Valley (1944)
Roy Rogers
The Yellow Rose of Texas (1944)
Roy Rogers
The Cowboy and the Senorita (1944)
Roy Rogers
Hands Across the Border (1944)
Roy Rogers
Lake Placid Serenade (1944)
Silver Spurs (1943)
Roy Rogers
King of the Cowboys (1943)
Roy Rogers
Song of Texas (1943)
Roy Rogers
Idaho (1943)
Roy Rogers
The Man from Music Mountain (1943)
Roy Rogers
Man from Cheyenne (1942)
Roy Rogers
Sunset Serenade (1942)
Roy Rogers
Heart of the Golden West (1942)
Roy Rogers
Sons of the Pioneers (1942)
Roy Rogers
Romance on the Range (1942)
Roy Rogers
Ridin' Down the Canyon (1942)
Roy Rogers
Sunset on the Desert (1942)
Roy Rogers/Bill Sloane
South of Santa Fe (1942)
Roy Rogers
Arkansas Judge (1941)
Tom Martel
Bad Man of Deadwood (1941)
Bill Brady, also known as Brett Starr
Sheriff of Tombstone (1941)
Bret Starr
Jesse James at Bay (1941)
Jesse James/Clint Burns
In Old Cheyenne (1941)
Steve Blane
Red River Valley (1941)
Roy Rogers
Nevada City (1941)
Jeff Connor
Robin Hood of the Pecos (1941)
Vance Corgin
The Ranger and the Lady (1940)
Capt. Colt
Young Buffalo Bill (1940)
Buffalo Bill Cody
The Border Legion (1940)
Steve Kells
Colorado (1940)
Jerry Burke
The Carson City Kid (1940)
The Carson City Kid
Young Bill Hickok (1940)
"Wild" Bill Hickok
Dark Command (1940)
Fletch McCloud
Jeepers Creepers (1939)
Roy
Frontier Pony Express (1939)
Roy Rogers
Saga of Death Valley (1939)
Roy [Rogers]
Wall Street Cowboy (1939)
Roy [Rogers]
Rough Riders Round-Up (1939)
Roy
In Old Caliente (1939)
Roy Rogers
Days of Jesse James (1939)
Roy [Rogers]
The Arizona Kid (1939)
Roy
Southward Ho! (1939)
Roy
Shine on Harvest Moon (1938)
Roy [Rogers]
Billy the Kid Returns (1938)
Billy the Kid/Roy Rogers
Come On, Rangers (1938)
Roy [Rogers]
Under Western Stars (1938)
Roy Rogers
The Old Barn Dance (1938)
Singer
Wild Horse Rodeo (1937)
Singer
The Old Homestead (1935)

Music (Feature Film)

Men in Black III (2012)
Song Performer
Sleepless In Seattle (1993)
Song Performer
Roy Rogers: King of the Cowboys (1992)
Song Performer
The Hot Spot (1990)
Music
Man from Rainbow Valley (1946)
Composer
Heldorado (1946)
Composer
Sagebrush Heroes (1945)
Composer
King of the Cowboys (1943)
Composer
Bad Man of Deadwood (1941)
Composer
Shine on Harvest Moon (1938)
Composer
Outlaws of the Prairie (1937)
Composer

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

It's Showtime (1976)
Other

Cast (Special)

All My Friends Are Cowboys (1998)
Bob Hope: The First Ninety Years (1993)
A Tribute to the Singing Cowboy (1993)
Roy Rogers: King of the Cowboys (1992)
Holiday Greetings from the Ed Sullivan Show (1992)
1992 Grammy Awards (1992)
Performer
The Republic Pictures Story (1991)
Randy Travis -- Happy Trails (1991)
The 24th Annual Country Music Association Awards (1990)
Performer
Showtime Coast to Coast: American Music (1990)
Performer
The 61st Annual Academy Awards Presentation (1989)
Performer
The Singing Cowboys Ride Again (1982)
When the West Was Fun: A Western Reunion (1979)
Happy Birthday, America (1976)
The Mickie Finns Finally Present How the West Was Lost (1975)
Narration
Saga of Sonora (1973)
Narrator

Music (Special)

Holiday Greetings from the Ed Sullivan Show (1992)
Song Performer
Roy Rogers: King of the Cowboys (1992)
Song Performer
Randy Travis -- Happy Trails (1991)
Song Performer ("Happy Trails" "I Want To Be A Cowboy'S Sweetheart")
The 25th Annual Country Music Association Awards (1991)
Song Performer
The 24th Annual Country Music Association Awards (1990)
Song Performer

Cast (Short)

Rodeo Dough (1940)
Himself

Life Events

1919

Father moved family to a farm in Duck Run, OH

1929

Moved to California with family; picked peaches

1931

Radio debut as member of Tom Murray's Hollywood Hillbillies

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."

1982

Appeared on retrospective "The Singing Cowboys Ride Again" (syndication)

1997

Final public performance at 50th wedding anniversary celebration

Photo Collections

Trigger, Jr. - Lobby Card
Here is a lobby card from Trigger, Jr. (1950), starring Roy Rogers and Trigger. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
Don't Fence Me In - Lobby Cards
Here are a few Lobby Cards from Don't Fence me In (1945), starring Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.

Videos

Movie Clip

Under Western Stars (1938) - Cattlemen Fight For Water Spinning headlines into action, Roy Rogers and his crew (Smiley Burnette as sidekick “Frog”) are running fence, the Republic Pictures crew working at Tinnemaha Reservoir, out near Death Valley, as we’re left to surmise the competing interests in a Western water war, opening Under Western Stars, 1938.
Under Western Stars (1938) - It's Rogers For Congressman! Under arrest but as-ever a hero, this time for letting loose water for desperate local cattlemen, Roy Rogers cheerily stands up to the water company boss (Guy Usher) and gets put up himself by the mayor (Earl Dwire) with a tune by Eddie Cherkose and Charles Rossoff, sung by the convenient Maple City Four, in Republic’s Under Western Stars, 1938.
Under Western Stars (1938) - Dust The Academy Award-nominated song, by Johnny Marvin, occasioned by a Washington, D.C. party thrown by now-congressman Roy Rogers (playing “himself,” with love-interest Carol Rogers attending), who was elected to represent the plight of Western cattlemen against greedy capitalists, with fancy A/V support in Under Western Stars, 1938.
Under Western Stars (1938) - Send My Mail To The County Jail Just collared by the friendly sheriff (Jack Rockwell) for opening up the dam to get water for local ranchers, Roy Rogers, backed by pal “Frog” (Smiley Burnette) and the Maple City Four offers his first song, written by Jack Lawrence and Peter Tinturin, in Republic Pictures’ Under Western Stars, 1938.
Trail Of Robin Hood (1950) - Get A Christmas Tree For Johnny Christmas party in the fictional California mountain town, Jack Holt as himself, a Christmas tree benefactor, with local lass Sis (Carol Nugent) catching a song by star Roy Rogers (with the Riders Of The Purple Sage, composed by Jack Elliott), Penny Edwards as the charming villainess in the holiday-themed Roy feature Trail Of Robin Hood 1950.
Trail Of Robin Hood (1950) - Xmas Tree Cutting Camp Getting every penny’s worth of location shooting at Big Bear (or Lake Arrowhead), Roy and Trigger catching goons rustling Christmas trees, and giving chase, followed by silent movie cowboy Jack Holt in a featured role, opening the holiday-themed Roy Rogers musical vehicle from Republic, Trail Of Robin Hood 1950.
Trail Of Robin Hood (1950) - Hometown Jubilee Pre-teen sharpshooter Sis (Carol Nugent) won the Turkey Shoot and decided to spare the bird, visiting with Jack Holt, playing himself, the retired silent-movie cowboy star, who’s now a benevolent Christmas tree grower, Penny Edwards as visiting Toby, who’s secretly against his enterprise, and the star Roy (Rogers) with a song, joined by the Riders (Of The Purple Sage), composed by the guitarist Foy Willing, in Trail Of Robin Hood 1950.
Alias Jesse James (1959) - Bret Maverick, Etc. Irritating citizen Queasley (Will Wright), Bob Hope and bride Rhonda Fleming, in a shootout cameo sequence, first James Garner in Maverick mode, then Ward Bond, James Arness, Roy Rogers, Fess Parker, Gary Cooper, Jay Silverheels and Bing Crosby, near the end of Alias Jesse James, 1959.
Golden Stallion, The - Night On The Prairie Roy Rogers, now re-united with Trigger, Stormy (Dale Evans) and Pepi (Estelita Rodriguez), leads Night On The Prairie, by Nathan Gluck, Anne Parentean and Aaron Gonzales, but bad guys lurk, in The Golden Stallion, 1949.
Cowboy And The Senorita, The - What'll I Use For Money? All friends now, Roy Rogers, Dale Evans ("Ysobel"), Mary Lee (her sister "Chip") and The Sons Of The Pioneers, together for What'll I Use For Money by Ned Washington and Phil Ohman, in The Cowboy And The Senorita, 1944.
Golden Stallion, The - Time For A Song Stormy (Dale Evans) and Pepita (Estelita Rodriguez) preparing the bunk-house, trilling There's Always Time For A Song by Sid Robin and Foy Willing, and meeting Roy Rogers and sidekick Sparrow (Pat Brady), early in The Golden Stallion, 1949.
My Pal Trigger (1946) - Livin' Western Style Opening scene, narration from the star (playing, as ever, himself) and the first song, moving on to meet "Susan" (Roy's wife-to-be Dale Evans) and her dad "Gabby" (ever-present George "Gabby" Hayes), in My Pal Trigger, 1946.

Family

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

Companions

Arlene Wilkins
Wife
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.
Dale Evans
Wife
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.

Bibliography

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