Monday, November 04, 2013
This Week in Television History: November 2013 PART I
Listen to me on TV CONFIDENTIAL:
As always, the further we go back in Hollywood history, the more that fact and legend become intertwined. It's hard to say where the truth really lies.
Rogers first came to Hollywood in the 1920s as a migrant fruit picker. In the early 1930s, he joined a singing group called Uncle Tom Murray's Hollywood Hillbillies, which first sang on the radio in 1931. Rogers went on to sing with other similar groups, including the Sons of the Pioneers, which recorded hits like "Tumbling Tumbleweeds." The Sons of the Pioneers group was recruited for low-budget western films, and Rogers was soon playing bit parts for Republic Pictures, the same studio where cowboy star Gene Autry worked. When Autry quit over a dispute with the studio in 1937, Rogers gained more exposure. Starring with his trick horse, Trigger, and his frequent co-star Dale Evans, Rogers soon became one of the Top 10 moneymakers in Hollywood.
Rogers also followed Autry into the radio medium, launching The Roy Rogers Show in 1944. The show, a mix of music and drama, always closed with the song "Happy Trails," which became known as Rogers' theme song.
After Rogers' wife died in 1946, he married co-star Dale Evans. His radio program ran until 1955. In 1951, a TV version of the program debuted and ran until 1957. Rogers became one of the wealthiest men in Hollywood by diversifying his money: His empire included a TV production studio, real estate, cattle, horses, a rodeo show, and a restaurant chain. Roy Rogers died in 1998.
To quote the Bicentennial Minute, "And that's the way it was" and as Roy would say, "Until we meet again on screen or in person, good night, good luck, and may the good Lord take a likin' to you."