1907 - 1998
Gene Autry was born in Tioga, Texas on September 29, 1907. His mother taught him to play guitar and he began performing while still in high school as a member of the Fields Brothers Marvelous Medicine show.
Outside of performing Gene worked as a telegraph operator for a short time, and became a shrewd businessman who owned baseball's Anaheim Angels for more than 30 years.
Autry popularized the musical western in 91 movies from the 1930's to the early 50's with films that were not you typical bang bang shoot 'em up westerns: he always wanted to put a moral to the story.
He hung up his performing spurs in 1956, but continued to own four radio stations, the Gene Autry Hotel is Palm Springs, and several other properties. He was far from wanting financially, ranking on the Forbes list of America's richest.
He made 635 recordings and sold more than 100 million records during his career.
"It occurs to me that music, with the possible exception of riding a bull, is the most uncertain way to make a living I know" said Mr. Autry in his 1978 biography, "In either case, you can get bucked off, thrown, stepped on, trampled--if you get on at all. At best, it's a short and bumpy ride. It isn't easy to explain why you keep coming back. But you do."
"He wrote about America, about people." "...it's like we really lost a piece of America." Glen Campbell
"Gene Autry's music and movies captured all that was good and inspiring about America's old west." Bill Clinton.
Autry was the first performer to sell out New York's Madison Square Garden, and was a tireless worker, doing two shows a day, seven days a week for up to 85 consecutive days.
Hollywood's singing cowboy passed away in his home October 2, 1998 after a long illness...he was 91.
© 1998 Eddie Bear Productions