September 29 – Happy Birthday, Gene Autry

Posted on September 29, 2013

Today let's sing “Happy Birthday” to the “Singing Cowboy,” Gene Autry.

Was he really a cowboy? Well, as a boy in Texas and Oklahoma, Autry helped out on his dad's ranch, so he was, kinda' sorta'.

Did he really sing? You bet! Gene Autry was a singer and actor, and he became famous with radio, movie, and television appearances. Autry earned enough as a performer to become an owner; he owned a TV station, several radio stations, and even the Angels Major League Baseball team!

Gene Autry is probably most famous as the good-guy cowboy who sings—the guy who is “straight-shooting,” the hero who is honest, brave, and true. But his biggest singing hits were Christmas songs! He was the first singer to record “Frosty the Snowman,” and he wrote as well as sang “Here Comes Santa Claus.” His biggest hit, hitting #1 in the U.S., was “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

That stuff was “before my time” – heck, Autry was born a long time ago, on this date in 1907! – but in 1988 Autry started a museum that displays his collection of Western art and memorabilia. The museum is in Los Angeles, right next to the L.A. Zoo. And I've been there a lot a lot a lot! There are great Native American

artifacts, fun Western movies exhibits, and a fantastic show of Western art once a year!

This painting by Howard Terpning was one
of my favorites of this year's art show!

Here are a few fun facts about Gene Autry:

  • A town in Oklahoma changed its name from Berwyn to Gene Autry. This was in 1941, when Autry was just 34 years old! Can you imagine how many times in his 91 years Gene Autry went to Gene Autry, Oklahoma...just because he could!

  • Speaking of changing one's name, Gene Autry was born Orvon Grover Autry!
  • Autry is the only person to have five different stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame! “Why so many?” you ask. Well, they give out stars for motion pictures (movies), radio, recording (music), television, and live theater. And Autry did enough in each category to get a star for each! Wow!
  • The number 26 was retired by the Angels baseball team in honor of their owner, Gene Autry.

  • Autry's old ranch, Melody Ranch (in Santa Clarita, CA), has been restored and now serves as a movie location and as the location of the Cowboy Festival every year.

Also on this date:

Museum Day Live 

Plan Ahead!

And here are my Pinterest pages on October holidaysOctober birthdays, and historical anniversaries in October.

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