Family & Companions
Dale Evans was the epitome of the hearty, Bible-thumpin', All-American girl made good. A radio singer, she went on to partner with her husband, Western star Roy Rogers, in two TV series, in which she would sing "Happy Trails to You" while riding her horse, Buttermilk, and smiling, smiling, smiling.
Evans was born with a dream, although when she was already once widowed at age 17, things might have seen pretty bleak. But her faith sustained her, she has always maintained, and she began singing on the radio in Texas, and performing with orchestras. She was nearing 30 when she migrated to Hollywood and broke into films with "Orchestra Wives" (1942), in which played pal to Ann Rutherford. Evans played opposite John Wayne in "In Old Oklahoma/War of the Wildcats" (1943). She might have been relegated to Poverty Row obscurity had it not been for her next film, "The Cowboy and the Senorita" (1944), in which she was Ysobel Martinez, trying to help her younger cousin hold on to a gold mine, and cast opposite Roy Rogers. The duo (who married in 1947) went on to appear in together in 20 consecutive films. In their movies, Rogers would play himself, while Evans would be given a different name, but the persona would be the same and the guy would get his gal. In 1951, they made their last film together "Pals of the Golden West," in which Evans sang several cowpoke tunes.
By this time, the encroachment of TV was wreaking havoc on all studios, and most of the lesser ones which had been churning out serials and Westerns for years switched to TV production and even sold their libraries to the new medium. Rogers saw the writing on the wall. An astute businessman, Rogers launched "The Roy Rogers Show" (NBC, 1951-57), a staple of Sunday evenings. The premise found Rogers and Evans based at the Double R Bar Ranch with Rogers and sidekick Ray Brady fighting for law and order while Evans crooned "Happy Trails to You" and rode her Buttermilk next to Rogers' Trigger with Bullet the dog following behind. In the 60s, CBS ran rebroadcasts of the show on Saturday mornings. Evans and Rogers made some guest appearances after the demise of their show and in 1962 had a brief variety show of their own on ABC, "The Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Show." They also hosted "Kraft Musical Hall" several times and appeared in televised specials from Nashville, the heart of their audience.
The pair had become wealthy and drifted away from Hollywood, basing their lives in the Apple Valley area of California, which they had helped to develop. Evans returned to TV in 1973 to do the "Saga of Sonora" musical fantasy for NBC. And, she hosted a talk show produced for Christian Cable services for several years. Still with the same spirit, energy and hair style, she talked about faith, home crafts, and raising a family or sang a song or two. And occasionally Roy Rogers dropped by for a quick "How do?."
Cast (Feature Film)
Music (Feature Film)
Made feature film debut in "Orchestra Wives"
First worked with Roy Rogers in "The Cowboy and the Senorita"
Co-starred on "The Roy Rogers Show" (NBC)
Continued singing "Happy Trails to You" on short-lived "The Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Show" (ABC)
Co-starred in musical fantasy "The Saga of Sonora" (NBC)
Appeared on ABC reunion special "When the West Was Fun"
Hosted "A Date with Dale" aired on various Christian TV stations, including Trinity Broadcasting
Suffered heart attack
Appeared on special "The Women of Country" (CBS)
Had a stroke; curtailed activities
In October, suffered a mild heart attack