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Do You Know... Gene Autry?

Do you know…
…that Orvon Grover Autry (born: September 29, 1907 in Tioga, Texas – died: October 2, 1998 in Studio City, California), better known as Gene Autry, was an American performer who gained fame as The Singing Cowboy on the radio, in movies and on television for more than three decades beginning in the 1930s?

  • Gene AutryAutry was also owner of the Los Angeles/California Angels Major League Baseball team from 1961 to 1997, a television station and several radio stations in Southern California.

  • Although his signature song was "Back in the Saddle Again", Autry is best known today for his Christmas holiday songs, "Here Comes Santa Claus" (which he wrote), "Frosty the Snowman", and his biggest hit, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer".

  • He is a member of both the Country Music and Nashville Songwriters halls of fame, and is the only celebrity to have five stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

  • After leaving high school in 1925, Autry worked as a telegrapher for the St. Louis–San Francisco Railway.

  • Autry signed a recording deal with Columbia Records in 1929. He worked in Chicago, Illinois, on the WLS-AM radio show National Barn Dance for four years, and with his own show, where he met singer-songwriter Smiley Burnette.

  • Discovered by film producer Nat Levine in 1934, Autry and Burnette made their film debut for Mascot Pictures Corp. in In Old Santa Fe as part of a singing cowboy quartet; he was then given the starring role by Levine in 1935 in the 12-part serial The Phantom Empire.

  • Mascot was absorbed by the newly-formed Republic Pictures Corp., and Autry went along to make a further 44 films up to 1940, all B Westerns in which he played under his own name, rode his horse Champion, had Burnette as his regular sidekick, and had many opportunities to sing in each film.

  • Pat Buttram was picked by Gene Autry, recently returned from his World War II service in the Army Air Force, to work with him. Buttram would co-star with Gene Autry in more than 40 films, and in over 100 episodes of Autry's television show.
    Autry purchased the 110 acre Monogram Movie Ranch in 1953, located in Placerita Canyon near Newhall, California in the northern San Gabriel Mountains foothills. He renamed it the Melody Ranch after his movie Melody Ranch.

  • Autry served as a C-47 Skytrain pilot in the United States Army Air Forces, with the rank of flight officer in the Air Transport Command during World War II flying dangerous missions over the Himalayas, nicknamed the Hump, between Burma and China.

  • Gene Autry died of lymphoma 3 days after his 91st birthday at his home in Studio City, California. His death on October 2, 1998 came fewer than three months after the death of another celebrated cowboy of the silver screen, radio, and TV, Roy Rogers.

  • Burial: Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills), Los Angeles, California, Plot: Sheltering Hills section, Grave 1048, just in front of one of the statues.


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