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March 5, 2024

Gene Autry: The Singing Cowboy

Born 1907 in Tioga, Texas, American actor, musician, singer, composer, rodeo performer, and baseball team owner Gene Autry largely gained fame by singing in a crooning style on radio, in films, and on television for more than three decades, beginning in the early 1930s. He was the owner of a television station and several radio stations in Southern California. From 1961 to 1997, he was the founding owner of the California Angels franchise of Major League Baseball (MLB).

From 1934 to 1953, Autry appeared in 93 films. Between 1950 and 1956, he hosted The Gene Autry Show television series. During the 1930s and 1940s, he personified the straight-shooting hero—honest, brave, and true.

Autry was also one of the most important pioneering figures in the history of country music, considered the second major influential artist of the genre's development after Jimmie Rodgers. His films were the first media vehicle to carry Western music to a nationwide audience.

In addition to his signature song “Back in the Saddle Again”, as well as his recording hit “At Mail Call Today”, Autry is still remembered for his association with Christmas music, having debuted the seasonal standards “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, “Frosty the Snowman”, and “Here Comes Santa Claus”.

Autry is a member of both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. He’s the only person to be awarded stars in all five categories on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, for film, television, music, radio, and live performance. The town of Gene Autry, Oklahoma, was named in his honor, as was the Gene Autry precinct in Mesa, Arizona.

Autry died in 1998 in Studio City, California, aged 91. Take a look at these vintage photos to see portraits of a young and handsome Gene Autry in the 1930s and 1940s.


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