Monday, October 31, 2016

America's Favorite Singing Cowboy

Gene Autry, America's Favorite Singing Cowboy, was born in Tioga, Texas in 1907, but he grew up and got his start in music in Oklahoma. By the late 1920s, Autry was singing on Tulsa station KVOO and was known as Oklahoma’s Yodeling Cowboy. Humorist Will Rogers, a fellow Oklahoman, discovered Autry, and his career soon exploded. He took over radios across the country, gaining a large following. In 1929, he signed a recording contract with Columbia Records, and soon after, performed on the "National Barn Dance" for radio station WLS in Chicago. 

Gene Autry
Autry first appeared on the big screen in 1934, popularizing the musical Western until 1953. He eventually starred in 93 feature films. In 1940, theater exhibitors of America voted Autry the fourth biggest box office attraction, behind Mickey Rooney, Clark Gable, and Spencer Tracy.

He joined the Army Air Corps in 1942 and became Sgt. Gene Autry. During the war, he ferried fuel, ammunition, and arms in the China-India-Burma areas and flew over the Himalayas, the hazardous air route known as "The Hump." When the war ended Autry was reassigned to Special Services, where he toured with a USO troupe in the South Pacific before resuming his movie career in 1946.

 Gene Autry riding Champion as he becomes an honorary member
 of the Miami Mounted Police
Over the decades he performed, Gene Autry made 640 musical recordings, including more than 300 songs written or co-written by him. His records sold more than 100 million copies, and he had more than a dozen gold and platinum records, including the first record ever certified gold. Both of his children's records Here Comes Santa Claus and Peter Cottontail became platinum recordings.

Although Autry was the first performer to sell out Madison Square Garden, in his heart, he was always a cowboy. As early as August 1947, Gene promoted cowboy-code mandates during his Melody Ranch radio show dramas. Life Magazine began publishing the rules as they evolved.

Gene Autry achieved much during his lifetime. He is the only entertainer to have all five stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for Radio, Recording, Motion Pictures, Television, and Live Theatre/performance. He received hundreds of honors and awards. Autry was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame; received the American Academy of Achievement Award, the Los Angeles Area Governor's Emmy from The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences; and the Board of Directors Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Achievement in Arts Foundation. Autry was also inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, The National Cowboy Hall of Fame, the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame, and he received The Songwriters Guild Life Achievement Award.

On a personal note, Gene was married to Ina Mae Autry for forty-eight years until she passed away. Sadly, they had no children. Gene married his second wife, Jacqueline, in 1981, and they were married for nineteen years until Gene's death on October 2, 1998. Gene Autry was a man to be admired--a true cowboy.

If you'd like to hear a snippet of Gene Autry's music, click hereThere are several different recordings on this page.

Meet the seven Hart brothers of the 7-Heart ranch in central Texas. Each man is content in his independent life, without the responsibilities of a wife and children—until their father decides 1874 will be the year his grown sons finally marry, or they will be cut from his will. How will each man who values his freedom respond to the ultimatum? Can love develop on a timeline, or will it be sacrificed for the sake of an inheritance?

Bestselling author Vickie McDonough grew up wanting to marry a rancher, but instead married a computer geek who is scared of horses. She now lives out her dreams penning romance stories about ranchers, cowboys, lawmen, and others living in the Old West. Vickie is an award-winning author of more than 40 published books and novellas, and over 1.5 million copies of her books have been sold. Her novels include the fun and feisty Texas Boardinghouse Brides series, and End of the Trail, which was the OWFI 2013 Best Fiction Novel winner. Whispers on the Prairie was a Romantic Times Recommended Inspirational Book for July 2013. Song of the Prairie won the 2015 Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Her latest series, Land Rush Dreams, focuses on the Oklahoma land runs. Vickie has recently stepped into independent publishing.


  1. Thanks for sharing this. I never knew this about him. I thought he was just a singer.

    1. He did a whole lot more than what I mentioned here. I didn't realize all that either until I started researching him. He even owned a major league baseball team for a while.

  2. I grew up with Gene Autry on tv, He definately was a great cowboy. Interesting blog today,thanks for sharing. TV was good when I was a kid now too much violence and sexy things. you learned things from the westerns. not so today with TV unless you are watching educational channels.
    Paula O

    1. You're so right, Paula. Those were the good ol' days.

  3. Thanks for the memories, Vickie. I grew up listening to Gene Autry on the radio and spent many a Saturday afternoon at the movies watching one of his. He and Roy Rogers were true heroes in my book, and the kids in the neighborhood fought over being these two. If you weren't chosen, you had to be a plain old cowboy or cowgirl. Look at Gene's code and you know what kind of man he was. Great blog. Thanks again.

  4. We need more men like Gene and Roy these days. The world would be a whole lot better place.

  5. What a guy! Thank you for sharing, Vickie, so interesting!

  6. What a guy! Thank you for sharing, Vickie, so interesting!