Gene Autry Biography
Gene Autry born Orvon Grover Autry was an American performer. He was born September 29, 1907 in Tioga, Texas to Delbert Autry and Elnora Ozment. He was raised in Texas and Oklahoma.
His parents moved in the 1920s to Ravia in Johnston County in southern Oklahoma. He worked on his father’s ranch while at school. After leaving high school in 1925, Autry worked as a telegrapher for the St. Louis–San Francisco Railway. His talent at singing and playing guitar led to performing at local dances.
He was discovered by humorist Will Rogers. In 1929, Autry was billed as “Oklahoma’s Yodeling Cowboy” at KVOO in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He gained a popular following, a recording contract with Columbia Records in 1929, and soon after, performed on the “National Barn Dance” for radio station WLS in Chicago. Autry first appeared on screen in 1934 and up to 1953 popularized the musical Western and 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.
From 1940 to 1956 the public listened to him on Gene Autry’s Melody Ranch radio show that was heard weekly over the CBS Radio Network, featuring Autry’s trademark theme song Back In The Saddle Again. In addition, Autry’s popularity was apparent during his personal appearance tours. The first performer to sell out Madison Square Garden, his concert and rodeo appearances throughout the United States and Europe are legendary and served as a model for other performers. Autry did two shows a day, seven days a week, for 65 to 85 days at a stretch.
Entertainer Gene Autry 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 theater of war 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.
In 1950, Autry became the first major movie star to use the television medium. Always a man of vision, Autry excelled and for the next five years through his Flying A Pictures he produced and starred in 91 half-hour episodes of The Gene Autry Show for CBS Television. This success lead him to produce such popular TV series as Annie Oakley, The Range Rider, Buffalo Bill Jr., The Adventures Of Champion as well as the first 39 episodes of Death Valley Days.
He carried his love for entertaining and sharp business sense into broadcasting, where, under the Golden West Broadcasters banner, he owned such award-winning stations as KMPC radio and KTLA Television in Los Angeles as well as other stations across the country. Autry’s great love for baseball prompted him to acquire the American League California Angels in 1961. Active in Major League Baseball, Autry held the title of Vice President of the American League until his death. Gene Autry died at his home in Studio City, California on October 2, 1998. He was 91 years old.
Gene Autry Museum
Autry’s long-cherished dream came true with the opening in November 1988 of the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum, since acclaimed as one of the finest museums on the West. Autry intended to give something back to the community that had been so good to him. In January 2004 the museum merged with the Southwest Museum. As part of this affiliation, an umbrella company was created. The new Autry National Center consisted of three entities: the Southwest Museum of the American Indian, the Museum of the American West, and the Institute for the Study of the American West. In 2015 the museum became one entity, the Autry Museum of the American West. Today thousands of visitors, children and adults alike, learn the fascinating history of America’s West through world-class collections of art and artifacts.
Gene Autry Awards
Autry is the only entertainer to have all five stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one each for Radio, Recording, Motion Pictures, Television, and Live Theatre/performance. He was a 33rd Degree Mason and Honorary Inspector General and was given the prestigious award of the Grand Cross of the Court of Honor. Among the many hundreds of honors and awards Autry has received were induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame; 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. Gene 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. He was also honored by his songwriting peers with a lifetime achievement award from ASCAP.
Gene Autry Wife and Children
In 1932, Autry married Ina May Spivey, the niece of Jimmy Long. After she died in 1980, he married Jacqueline Ellam, who had been his banker, in 1981. He had no children by either marriage.
Gene Autry Son
Gene Autry neither had a son nor a daughter.
Gene Autry Body Measurements
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Gene Autry Net Worth
In 1982, he sold Los Angeles television station KTLA for $245 million. He ranked for many years on the Forbes magazine list of the 400 richest Americans, before he fell in 1995 to the magazine’s “near miss” category with an estimated net worth of $320 million.
Gene Autry Songs
- Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer
- Back in the Saddle Again
- Peter Cottontail
- That Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine
- Riders in the Sky
- Frosty The Snowman
- Tumbling Tumbleweeds
- Jingle, Jangle, Jingle
- Have I Told You Lately That I Love You
- You’re the Only Star in My Blue Heaven
- At Mail Call Today
- The Last Round-Up
- Be Honest With Me
- If It Doesn’t Snow on Christmas
- When It’s Springtime in the Rockies
- A Yodeling Hobo
- Dear Hearts and Gentle People
- Blue Canadian Rockies
- Nine Little Reindeer
- I Hang My Head and Cry
- Sing Me a Song of the Saddle
- Tweedle O’Twill
- Deep In The Heart Of Texas
- Dear Old Western Skies
- Way Out West In Texas
- Gonna Build A Big Fence Around Texas
- Ridin’ Down the Canyon
- Do Right Daddy Blues
- Dixie Cannonball
- I’m Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes
- Dallas County Jail Blues
- God’s Little Candles
- Here Comes Santa Claus
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