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Gene Autry ACTOR
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GENE AUTRY BIOGRAPHY & FILMOGRAPHY:

Gene Autry, probably most famous as the first singing cowboy star, is a show business legend, succeeding in radio, movies, and television as a performer.

Born in Texas on September 29, 1907, Orvon Eugene Autry was raised there and in Oklahoma, where his family moved in the 1920’s.  He worked on his father’s ranch while he grew up, and later worked as a telegraph operator for the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway after he finished school.

Working the graveyard shift at the telegraph was lonely and sometimes too quiet, and Gene would pass the time playing his guitar and singing, which he loved to do.  He also used his talents performing at local dances.  It is reported that Will Rogers, famous wit and humorist, overheard him singing and playing and encouraged him to try singing professionally.

He went to New York, where he auditioned for the Victor Talking Machine Company (soon to become RCA Victor), an American company making phonographs and recordings, but was turned down because they had just signed two performers with a very similar style to Autry’s, but he was encouraged to try singing on the radio to gain experience.  In 1928 he could be heard as “Oklahoma’s Yodeling Cowboy” on radio station KVOO in Tulsa.  He must have returned to RCA Victor because their records indicate that Gene Autry and Jimmie Long made two recordings, “My Dreaming of You” and “My Alabama” in 1929, and that same year he was signed to a recording contract with Columbia Records.

During his early recording career Gene Autry recorded songs in various genres, including many “hillbilly” style songs in 1930 and 1931.  It was while he worked on “National Barn Dance” on WLS-AM radio that he met singer/songwriter Smiley Burnette who in later years would be Gene’s sidekick in movies and on television.

“That Silver Haired Daddy of Mine” was Gene’s first big hit in 1932.  He is also famous for his singing of “Back in the Saddle Again” (later to be his theme song).  Several generations of children know Gene Autry’s voice singing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, “Frosty the Snowman”, and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”.  He is also famous for “Here Comes Santa Claus” which he co-wrote with Oakley Haldeman in 1946, and recorded in 1947.  He would go on to co-own Challenge Records for a short time in the 1950’s.  Over his recording career, he made 640 recordings, more than 300 of which were written or co-written by him, earning him more than a dozen gold and platinum records.

Gene was discovered by producer Nat Levine in 1934, and that same year he and Smiley Burnette were cast as part of a singing quartet in “In Old Santa Fe”, produced by Mascot Pictures Corporation.  In 1935 he was given the starring role in “The Phantom Empire”, a twelve chapter serial.

Between 1935 and 1940 Autry would make forty-four films for Republic Pictures Corporation (which had taken over Mascot).  These were B-Western films, and starred Gene Autry along with Smiley Burnette and Gene’s horse, Champion.  These included “Ride Ranger Ride” in 1936, “Round Up Time in Texas” in 1937, and “Rhythm of the Saddle” in 1939.  Gene Autry was soon known everywhere as “The Singing Cowboy”.

Following his stint as a Flight Officer in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II, Gene Autry returned to his acting career with Republic, and continued to make movies with them such as “Sioux City Sue” in 1946 and “Twilight on the Rio Grande ” 1947.

After 1951 he formed his own production company to make Westerns under his own control, which continued the 1947 distribution agreement with Columbia Pictures.  Gene Autry Productions produced many movies, like “Texans Never Cry” in 1951, “Night Stage to Galveston” in 1952, and “Last of the Pony Riders” in 1953. 

He was listed in the Motion Picture Herald Top Ten Money Making Western Stars poll every year from 1936 to 1954, except for the three years he was away from the business serving in World War II, and was ranked first from 1937 to 1942, and then second from 1947 to 1954.

While making movies certainly took up much of his time, Gene Autry continued throughout his career to be heard on the radio also.  From 1940 to 1956 “Gene Autry’s Melody Ranch” radio show was enjoyed by millions on the CBS Radio NetworkThe show, of course, featured Gene’s theme song, “Back in the Saddle Again”.  Many adults today were influenced by Gene Autry’s “Cowboy Code”, encouraging them to live “ethical, moral, and patriotic lifestyles”.

Gene Autry’s Cowboy Code

The Cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or take unfair advantage.

He must never go back on his word, or a trust confided in him.

He must always tell the truth.

He must be gentle with children, the elderly, and animals.

He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas.

He must help people in distress.

He must be a good worker.

He must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action, and personal habits.

He must respect women, parents, and his nation's laws.

The Cowboy is a patriot.

Gene formed Flying “A” Productions in April of 1950, and proceeded to produce and star in “The Gene Autry Show” on CBS Television which premiered on July 23, 1950.  The show starred Gene Autry and his sidekick, Pat Buttram, and of course Gene’s horse, Champion.  They produced 91 half hour episodes featuring action, comedy, and Gene’s singing from July 1950 to December 1955.  Gene also appeared several times on ABC’s “Jubilee USA” in the late 1950’s.

While he was starring in his own television program, Flying “A” also produced “The Range Rider” starring Jock Mahoney from 1950 to 1953; “Annie Oakley” starring Gail Davis from 1954 to 1957; “Buffalo Bill Jr.” starring Dickie Jones from 1955 to 1956; and “The Adventures of Champion” starring Barry Curtis from 1955 to 1956.

Gene Autry returned to television in 1964 with “The Melody Ranch Show”, a one hour program featuring top country talent like Rex Allen and Hank Penny.  Gene appeared on the program occasionally.  “Melody Ranch Theater”, on The Nashville Network in 1987, featured Gene’s movies, and Gene and Pat Buttram would introduce the films and reminisce about movie-making.

Although Gene Autry retired from show business in 1964, he continued with many other pursuits, including being owner of the American League baseball team, the Angels, and vice president of the American League from 1983 until his death.  He was also owner of several radio stations in the Golden West radio network, and television station KTLA in Los Angeles.

He is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Western Performers Hall of Fame, the Radio Hall of Fame, the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame, and received the Songwriters Guild Life Achievement Award and a lifetime achievement award from ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers).

Gene Autry is also the only star to have five stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one in each category: motion pictures, radio, recording, television, and live theater.

Aside from his many performances on radio, television, and in movies which can still be enjoyed, he also left the legacy of The Museum of the American West (originally named the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum) which was founded in 1988.  His goal, and the museum’s mission, is to preserve the history of America’s “old West”.

On October 02, 1998 Gene Autry died at his home in California at the age of 91.

Filmography

1934    In Old Santa Fe

1934    Mystery Mountain

1935    Melody Trail

1935    The Phantom Empire

1935    Sagebrush Troubadour

1935    The Singing Vagabond

1935    Tumbling Tumbleweeds

1936    The Big Show

1936    Comin' Round the Mountain

1936    Guns and Guitars

1936    Oh, Susanna!

1936    The Old Corral

1936    Red River Valley

1936    Ride Ranger Ride

1936    The Singing Cowboy

1937    Boots and Saddles

1937    Git Along Little Dogies

1937    Manhattan Merry-Go-Round

1937    Public Cowboy No. 1

1937    Rootin' Tootin' Rhythm

1937    Round-Up Time in Texas

1937    Springtime in the Rockies

1937    Yodelin' Kid from Pine Ridge

1938    Gold Mine in the Sky

1938    Man from Music Mountain

1938    The Old Barn Dance

1938    Prairie Moon

1938    Rhythm of the Saddle

1938    Western Jamboree

1939    Blue Montana Skies

1939    Colorado Sunset

1939    Home on the Prairie

1939    In Old Monterey

1939    Mexicali Rose

1939    Mountain Rhythm

1939    Rovin' Tumbleweeds

1939    South of The Border

1940    Carolina Moon

1940    Gaucho Serenade

1940    Melody Ranch

1940    Rancho Grande

1940    Ride, Tenderfoot, Ride

1940    Shooting High

1941    Back in the Saddle

1941    Down Mexico Way

1941    Ridin' on a Rainbow

1941    Sierra Sue

1941    The Singing Hill

1941    Sunset in Wyoming

1941    Under Fiesta Stars

1942    The Bells of Capistrano

1942    Call of the Canyon

1942    Cowboy Serenade

1942    Heart of the Rio Grande

1942    Home in Wyomin'

1942    Stardust on the Sage

1946    Sioux City Sue

1947    The Last Round-Up

1947    Robin Hood of Texas

1947    Saddle Pals

1947    Trail to San Antone

1947    Twilight on the Rio Grande

1948    The Strawberry Roan

1949    The Big Sombrero

1949    The Cowboy and the Indians

1949    Loaded Pistols

1949    Riders in the Sky

1949    Riders of the Whistling Pines

1949    Rim of the Canyon

1950    Beyond the Purple Hills

1950    The Blazing Sun

1950    Cow Town

1950    Indian Territory

1950    Mule Train

1950    Sons of New Mexico

1951    Gene Autry and the Mounties

1951    Hills of Utah

1951    Silver Canyon

1951    Texans Never Cry

1951    Valley of Fire

1951    Whirlwind

1952    Apache Country

1952    Barbed Wire

1952    Blue Canadian Rockies

1952    Night Stage to Galveston

1952    The Old West

1952    Wagon Team

1953    Goldtown Ghost Riders

1953    Last of the Pony Riders

1953    On Top of Old Smoky

1953    Pack Train

1953    Saginaw Trail

1953    Winning of the West





Matinee Classics - Apache Country starring Gene Autry
Matinee Classics - Back in the Saddle starring Gene Autry, Smiley Burnette, Mary Lee, Edward Norris, Julie Bishop, Addison Richards, Arthur Loft, Edmund Elton, Joe McGuinn, Robert Barron and Edmund Cobb
Matinee Classics - Barbed Wire starring Gene Autry
Matinee Classics - Tumbling Tumbleweeds starring Gene Autry and George 'Gabby' Hayes
Matinee Classics - The Cowboy and the Indians starring Gene Autry, Sheila Ryan, Champion, Frank Richards, Hank Patterson, Jay Silverheels and Clayton Moore
Matinee Classics - South of the Border starring Gene Autry, Smiley Burnette, June Storey, Lupita Tovar, Mary Lee, Duncan Renaldo and Frank Reicher
Matinee Classics - Sons of New Mexico starring Gene Autry, Gail Davis, Champion, Robert Armstrong, Dick Jones, Frankie Darro, Irving Bacon and Clayton Moore
Matinee Classics - Silver Canyon starring Gene Autry, Pat Buttram, Gail Davis, Jim Davis, Bob Steele, Edgar Dearing, Richard Alexander, Terry Frost, Peter Mamakos, Steve Clark, Stanley Andrews, Duke York, Eugene Borden and Champion
Matinee Classics - Saginaw Trail starring Gene Autry, Connie Marshall, Champion, Eugene Borden, Ralph Reed, Henry Blair, Myron Healey, Mickey Simpson and Smiley Burnette
Matinee Classics - Ridin' on a Rainbow starring Gene Autry, Smiley Burnette, Mary Lee, Carol Adams, Ferris Taylor, Byron Foulger, Forrest Taylor and Georgia Caine
Matinee Classics - Rootin' Tootin' Rhythm starring Gene Autry, Smiley Burnette, Armida, Monte Blue, Hal Taliaferro, Ann Pendleton, Max Hoffman Jr., Al Clauser and His Oklahoma Outlaws and Champion
Matinee Classics - Rhythm of the Saddle starring Gene Autry, Smiley Burnette, Pert Kelton, Peggy Moran, LeRoy Mason, Arthur Loft, Ethan Laidlaw and Walter De Palma
Matinee Classics - Melody Ranch starring Gene Autry, Jimmy Durante, Ann Miller, Barton Maclane, Barbara Allen, George 'Gabby' Hayes, Jerome Cowan and Mary Lee
Matinee Classics - On Top of Old Smoky starring Gene Autry, Gail Davis,  Smiley Burnette, Champion, Grandon Rhodes, Sheila Ryan and Kenne Duncan
Matinee Classics - Prairie Moon starring Gene Autry, Smiley Burnette, Shirley Deane, Tommy Ryan, Walter Tetley, David Gorcey, Stanley Andrews, William Pawley, Warner Richmond, Raphael Bennett, Tom London, Bud Osborne, Jack Rockwell and Peter Potter
Matinee Classics - Man from Music Mountain starring Gene Autry, Smiley Burnette, Carol Hughes, Sally Payne, Ivan Miller and Ed Cassidy
Matinee Classics - Last of the Pony Riders starring Gene Autry, Kathleen Case, Dickie Jones, Champion, John Downey, Howard Wright, Arthur Space, Gregg Barton and Smiley Burnette
Matinee Classics - Loaded Pistols starring Gene Autry, Barbara Britton, Chill Wills, Jack Holt, Russell Arms and Robert Shayne
Matinee Classics - Indian Territory starring Gene Autry, Gail Davis, Kirby Grant, Pat Buttram, Philip Van Zandt  and James Griffith
Matinee Classics - Home on the Prairie starring Gene Autry, Smiley Burnette, June Storey, George Cleveland, Jack Mulhall and Walter Miller
Matinee Classics - Hills of Utah starring Gene Autry, Elaine Riley, Donna Martell, Onslow Stevens, Denver Pyle, William Fawcett, Harry Lauter, Keene Duncan, Pat Butram, Harry Harvey and Sandy Sanders
Matinee Classics - Git Along Little Dogies starring Gene Autry
Matinee Classics - Guns and Guitars starring Gene Autry
Matinee Classics - Gold Mine in the Sky starring Gene Autry
Matinee Classics - In Old Monterey starring Gene Autry, Smiley Burnette, June Storey, George 'Gabby' Hayes, Robert Warwick, The Hoosier Hotshots and Sarie Sallie
Matinee Classics - Cow Town with Gene Autry and Gail Davis
Matinee Classics - Colorado Sunset starring Gene Autry
Matinee Classics - Comin' Round the Mountain starring Gene Autry
Matinee Classics - Beyond The Purple Hills starring Gene Autry
Matinee Classics - Carolina Moon starring Gene Autry
Matinee Classics - The Big Show starring Gene Autry, Smiley Burnette, Kay Hughes, Sally Payne, William Newell and Max 'Alibi' Terhune
Matinee Classics - Riders of the Whistling Pines starring Gene Autry, Patricia White, Jimmy Lloyd, Douglass Dumbrille, Clayton Moore, Harry Cheshire, Leon Weaver and Champion
Matinee Classics - Sierra Sue starring Gene Autry, Smiley Burnette, Fay McKenzie, Frank Thomas, Robert Homans, Earle Hodgins, Dorothy Christy, Kermit Maynard, Jack Kirk, Eddie Dean, Budd Buster and Rex Lease


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