Roy Rogers

Roy Rogers

Infobox actor
name = Roy Rogers

imagesize = 300px
caption = Roy Rogers and Dale Evans at the 61st Academy Awards in 1989.
birthname = Leonard Franklin Slye
birthdate = birth date|1911|11|5|mf=y
birthplace = Cincinnati, Ohio
deathdate = death date and age|1998|7|6|1911|11|5
deathplace = Apple Valley, California
spouse = Lucile Ascolese (1933-1936)
Grace Arline Wilkins (1936-1946)
Dale Evans (1947-1998)
yearsactive = 1935 - 1998
occupation = actor, singer

Roy Rogers (born Leonard Franklin Slye) (November 5, 1911 – July 6, 1998), was a singer and cowboy actor. He and his third wife Dale Evans, his golden palomino Trigger, and his German Shepherd Dog, Bullet, were featured in over one hundred movies and "The Roy Rogers Show". The show ran on radio for nine years before moving to television from 1951 through 1957. His productions usually featured two sidekicks, Pat Brady, (who drove a jeep called "Nellybelle"), and the crotchety Gabby Hayes. Roy's nickname was "King of the Cowboys". Dale's nickname was "Queen of the West." For many Americans (and non-Americans), he was the embodiment of the all-American hero.

Early life

Rogers was born to Andrew ("Andy") and Mattie (Womack) Slye in Cincinnati, Ohio, where his family lived in a tenement building on 2nd Street. (Riverfront Stadium was constructed at this location in 1970 and Rogers would later joke that he had been born at second base.) Dissatisfied with his job and city life, Andy Slye and his brother Will built a 12-by-50-foot houseboat from salvage lumber and in July 1912 the Slye family floated up the Ohio River towards Portsmouth, Ohio. Desiring a more stable existence in Portsmouth, Rogers' parents purchased land on which to build a home, but the flood of 1911 allowed them to move the houseboat to their property and continue living in it on dry land.

In 1919 the Slyes purchased a farm about twelve miles north of Portsmouth at Duck Run near Lucasville, Ohio. They there built a six-room home. Rogers' father soon realized that the farm alone would provide insufficient income for his family and he took a job at a shoe factory in Portsmouth, living there during the week and returning home on the weekends, bearing gifts for the family following paydays, one of which was a horse on which Rogers learned his horsemanship.

After completing the eighth grade, Rogers attended high school at McDermott, Ohio. When he was seventeen his family returned to Cincinnati, where his father began work at a shoe factory. Rogers soon decided on the necessity to help his family financially, so he quit high school, joined his father at the shoe factory, and began attending night school. After being ridiculed for falling asleep in class, however, he quit school and never returned.

Rogers and his father felt imprisoned by their factory jobs. In 1929 Rogers' older sister Mary was living at Lawndale, California with her husband. Father and son decided to quit their shoe factory jobs. The family packed their 1923 Dodge for a visit with Mary and stayed four months before returning to Ohio. Almost immediately, Rogers had the opportunity to travel to California with Mary's father-in-law, and the rest of the family followed in the spring of 1930.

The Slyes rented a small house near Mary. Rogers and his father immediately found employment as truck drivers for a highway construction project. They reported to work one morning, however, to learn their employer had gone bankrupt. The economic hardship of the Great Depression had followed them West and the Slyes soon found themselves among the economic refugees traveling from job to job picking fruit and living in worker campsites. (Rogers would later read John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath" and marvel at its accuracy.) One day Andy Slye heard of a shoe factory hiring in Los Angeles and asked Rogers to join him in applying there for work. Rogers, having seen the joy that his guitar and singing had brought to the destitute around the campfires, hesitantly told his father that he was going to pursue a living in music. With his father's blessing, he and cousin Stanley Slye went to Los Angeles and sought musical engagements as The Slye Brothers.

In 1933, Roy married Lucile Ascolese, but they were divorced just three years later. Lucile had apparently been pregnant with Roy's child, but according to papers filed in the divorce case, she and her mother arranged to have an abortion.Phillips, Robert W., "Roy Rogers: A Biography, Radio History, Television Career Chronicle, Discography, Filmography, Comicography, Merchandising and Advertising History, Collectibles Description, Bibliography, and Index", McFarland, 1995 (pp. 13-15). ISBN 0899509371, 9780899509372]

Roy remarried in 1936 to Grace Arline Wilkins. In 1941 the couple adopted a girl, Cheryl Darlene. In 1942, they legally changed their names to Roy and Grace Arline Rogers. The following year, Arline bore a daughter, Linda Lou. A son, Roy Jr. ("Dusty"), followed in 1946, and Arline died of complications from the birth a few days afterward.


Rogers moved to California at eighteen to become a singer. After four years of little success, he formed Sons of the Pioneers, a western cowboy music group, in 1934. The group hit it big with songs like "Cool Water" and "Tumbling Tumbleweeds".

From his first film appearance in 1935, he worked steadily in western films, including a large supporting role as a singing cowboy while still billed as "Leonard Slye" in a Gene Autry movie. In 1938 when Autry temporarily walked out on his movie contract, Slye was immediately rechristened "Roy Rogers"Leonard Slye's stage name was suggested by Republic Picture's staff after Will Rogers and the shortening of Leroy.] and assigned the lead in "Under Western Stars". Rogers became a matinee idol and American legend. A competitor for Gene Autry was suddenly born. In addition to his own movies, Rogers played a supporting role in the John Wayne classic "Dark Command" (1940), a harrowing fictionalization of Quantrill's Raiders directed by Raoul Walsh, who had discovered Wayne in 1929 and changed "his" name while casting him in "The Big Trail", Wayne's first leading role. Rogers became a major box office attraction, and Dale Evans was cast in a movie with him in 1945. Roy's wife, Arline, died the following year.

Roy and Dale fell in love, and Roy proposed to her during a rodeo at Chicago Stadium. They married on New Years Eve in 1947 at the Flying L Ranch in Davis, Oklahoma where a few months earlier they had filmed Home In Oklahoma. Roy and Dale remained married until Roy's death in 1998.

Rogers was an idol for many children through his films and television show. Most of his films were in color in an era when almost all other B-movies were black and white. There were Roy Rogers action figures, cowboy adventure novels, a comic strip, a long-lived Dell Comics comic book series ("Roy Rogers Comics") written by Gaylord Du Bois, and a variety of marketing successes. Some of his movies would segue into animal adventures, in which Roy's horse Trigger would go off on his own for a while with the camera following him.

The Sons of the Pioneers continued their popularity through the 1950s. Although Rogers was no longer a member, they often appeared as Rogers' backup group in films, radio and television.

In August 1950, Dale and Roy had a daughter, Robin Elizabeth, who died of complications of Down Syndrome shortly before her second birthday. Evans wrote about losing their daughter in her book "Angel Unaware".

Rogers and Evans were also well known as advocates for adoption and as founders and operators of children's charities. They adopted several children. Both were outspoken Christians. In Apple Valley, California, where they made their home, numerous streets and highways as well as civic buildings have been named after them in recognition of their efforts on behalf of homeless and handicapped children. Roy was an active Freemason and a Shriner and was noted for his support of their charities.

Roy and Dale's famous theme song, which Dale wrote and they sang as a duet to sign off their television show, was "Happy trails to you, Until we meet again...".

For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Roy Rogers has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1752 Vine Street, a second star at 1733 Vine Street for his contribution to radio, and a third star at 1620 Vine Street for his contribution to the television industry.

Roy and Dale were inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 1976 and Roy was inducted again as a member of the Sons of the Pioneers in 1995. Roy was also twice elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame, first as a member of The Sons of the Pioneers in 1980 and as a soloist in 1988.

Rogers also owned a Thoroughbred racehorse named Triggairo who won thirteen career races including the 1975 El Encino Stakes at Santa Anita Park. [ [ Triggairo Horse Pedigree ] ]


Rogers died of congestive heart failure on July 6, 1998. Rogers was residing in Apple Valley, California at the time of his death. Rogers was buried at Sunset Hills cemetery in Apple Valley, CA. [ [ "Dale Evans, Queen Of The West, Dead At 88"] last access February 22, 2007.]


*"Slightly Static" (1935) (uncredited) .... Member of Sons of the Pioneers
*"The Old Homestead" (1935) (as Leonard Slye) .... Sons of the Pioneers
*"Way Up Thar" (1935) (as Leonard Slye) .... Band Member
*"Gallant Defender (1935) (uncredited) .... Nester (Sons of the Pioneers)
*"The Mysterious Avenger" (1936) (as Len Slye) .... Musician Len
*"Song of the Saddle" (1936) (uncredited) .... Sons of the Pioneers Guitarist
*"Rhythm on the Range" (1936) (uncredited) .... Leonard (Sons of the Pioneers)
*"California Mail" (1936) (uncredited) .... Square Dance Caller & Guitarist
*"The Big Show" (1936) (uncredited) .... Sons of the Pioneers guitar player
*"The Old Corral" (1936) (uncredited) .... Buck O'Keefe
*"The Old Wyoming Trail" (1937) (uncredited) .... Guitar player/Singer/Cowhand
*"Wild Horse Rodeo" (1937) (as Dick Weston) .... Singer
*"The Old Barn Dance" (1938) (as Dick Weston) .... Singer
*"Under Western Stars (1938) .... Roy Rogers
*"Billy the Kid Returns" (1938) .... Roy Rogers/Billy the Kid
*"A Feud There Was" (1938) (uncredited) .... Egghead/Elmer Singing Voice
*"Come On, Rangers" (1938) .... Roy Rogers
*"Shine On, Harvest Moon" (1938) .... Roy Rogers
*"Rough Riders' Round-up" (1939) .... Roy Rogers
*"Southward Ho" (1939) .... Roy
*"Frontier Pony Express" (1939) .... Roy Roger
*"In Old Caliente" (1939) .... Roy Rogers
*"Wall Street Cowboy" (1939) .... Roy Rogers
*"The Arizona Kid" (1939) .... Roy Rogers/The Arizona Kid
*"Jeepers Creepers" (1939) .... Roy
*"Saga of Death Valley" (1939) .... Roy Rogers
*"Days of Jesse James" (1939) .... Roy Rogers
*"Dark Command" (1940) .... Fletcher 'Fletch' McCloud
*"Young Buffalo Bill" (1940) .... Bill Cody
*"The Carson City Kid" (1940) .... The Carson City Kid
*"The Ranger and the Lady" (1940) .... Texas Ranger Captain Roy Colt
*"Colorado" (1940) .... Lieutenant Jerry Burke
*"Young Bill Hickok" (1940) .... 'Wild' Bill Hickok
*"The Border Legion" (1940) .... Dr. Stephen Kellogg, aka Steve Kells
*"Robin Hood of the Pecos" (1941) .... Vance Corbin
*"Arkansas Judge" (1941) .... Tom Martel
*"In Old Cheyenne"' (1941) .... Steve Blane
*"Sheriff of Tombstone" (1941) .... Brett Starr
*"Nevada City" (1941) .... Jeff Connors
*"Bad Man of Deadwood" (1941) .... Brett Starr aka Bill Brady
*"Jesse James at Bay" (1941) .... Jesse James/Clint Burns
*"Red River Valley" (1941) .... Roy Rogers
*"Man from Cheyenne" (1942) .... Roy Rogers
*"South of Santa Fe" (1942) .... Roy Rogers
*"Sunset on the Desert" (1942) .... Roy Rogers & Deputy Bill Sloan
*"Romance on the Range" (1942) .... Roy Rogers
*"Sons of the Pioneers" (1942) .... Roy Rogers
*"Sunset Serenade" (1942) .... Roy Rogers
*"Heart of the Golden West" (1942) .... Roy Rogers
*"Ridin' Down the Canyon" (1942) .... Roy Rogers
*"Idaho" (1943) .... Roy Rogers
*"King of the Cowboys" (1943) .... Roy Rogers
*"Song of Texas" (1943) .... Roy Rogers
*"Silver Spurs" (1943) .... Roy Rogers
*"Hands Across the Border" (1944) .... Roy Rogers
*"Cowboy and the Senorita" (1944) .... Roy Rogers
*"The Yellow Rose of Texas" (1944) .... Roy Rogers
*"Song of Nevada" (1944) .... Roy Rogers
*"San Fernando Valley" (1944) .... Roy Rogers
*"Lights of Old Santa Fe" (1944) .... Roy Rogers
*"Hollywood Canteen" (1944) .... Roy Rogers and Trigger
*"Utah" (1945) .... Roy Rogers
*"Where Do We Go from Here?" (1945) (scenes deleted)
*"Bells of Rosarita" (1945) .... Roy Rogers
*"The Man from Oklahoma" (1945) .... Roy Rogers
*"Along the Navajo Trail" (1945) .... Roy Rogers
*"Sunset in El Dorado" (1945) .... Roy Rogers
*"Don't Fence Me In" (1945) .... Roy Rogers
*"Song of Arizona" (1946) .... Roy Rogers
*"Rainbow Over Texas" (1946) .... Roy Rogers
*"My Pal Trigger" (1946) .... Roy Rogers
*"Under Nevada Skies" (1946) .... Roy Rogers
*"Roll on Texas Moon" (1946) .... Roy Rogers
*"Home in Oklahoma" (1946) .... Roy Rogers
*"Out California Way" (1946) .... Roy Rogers
*"Heldorado" (1946) .... Nevada State Ranger Roy Rogers
*"Apache Rose" (1947) .... Roy Rogers
*"Bells of San Angelo" (1947) .... Roy Rogers
*"Springtime in the Sierras" (1947) .... Roy Rogers
*"On the Old Spanish Trail" (1947) .... Roy Rogers
*"Pecos Bill" (1948) .... Roy Rogers
*"The Gay Ranchero" (1948) .... Sheriff Roy Rogers
*"Under California Stars "(1948) .... Roy Rogers
*"Eyes of Texas" (1948) .... U.S. Marshal Roy Rogers
*"Night Time in Nevada" (1948) .... Roy Rogers
*"Grand Canyon Trail" (1948) .... Roy Rogers
*"The Far Frontier" (1948) .... Roy Rogers
*"Susanna Pass" (1949) .... Roy Rogers
*"Down Dakota Way" (1949) .... Roy Rogers
*"The Golden Stallion" (1949) .... Roy Rogers
*"Bells of Coronado" (1950) .... Roy Rogers
*"Twilight in the Sierras" (1950) .... State Parole Officer Roy Rogers
*"Trigger, Jr." (1950) .... Roy Rogers
*"Sunset in the West" (1950) .... Roy Rogers
*"North of the Great Divide" (1950) .... Roy Rogers
*"Trail of Robin Hood" (1950) .... Roy Rogers
*"Spoilers of the Plains" (1951) .... Roy Rogers
*"Heart of the Rockies" (1951) .... Roy Rogers
*"In Old Amarillo" (1951) .... Roy Rogers
*"South of Caliente" (1951) .... Roy Rogers
*"Pals of the Golden West" (1951) .... Border Patrolman Roy Rogers
*"Son of Paleface" (1952) .... Roy Barton
*"Alias Jesse James" (1959) (uncredited) .... Roy Rogers
*"Mackintosh and T.J." (1975) .... Mackintosh

Popular songs recorded by Roy Rogers

*"Tumbling Tumbleweeds"
*"Way Out There" (singing and yodeling)
*"Ride Ranger Ride"
*"Hold That Critter Down"
*"One More Ride"
*"That Pioneer Mother Of Mine"
*"Little White Cross On The Hill"
*"Hold On Partner" (duet with Clint Black)

ee also

* Roy Rogers Restaurants
* Roy Rogers cocktail
* Earl W. Bascom, cowboy artist who worked with Roy Rogers



* Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, with Carlton Stowers, "Happy Trails: The story of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans", Carmel, New York, Guideposts, 1979, ISBN 0-8499-0086-7.
* Zwisohn, Laurence. (1998). "Roy Rogers". In "The Encyclopedia of Country Music". Paul Kingsbury, Editor. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 456-457.

External links

*imdb name|id=0001678|name=Roy Rogers
* [ Official family website and museum]
* [ Database and Cover gallery of Roy Rogers comic book appearances]
* [ Roy Rogers Ranch]
* [ Interview with Delores Chapman who had a bit part with Roy Rogers in North of the Great Divide]
* [ Profile] at Turner Classic Movies

* [ Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum]

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