Roy Rogers King of Cowboys

Who cares about the clouds when we're together?  Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather.”   Dale Evans  by Rosemary McKittrick

Photo courtesy of Brian Lebel.

He was the cowboy who alternated between chasing bad guys and strumming his guitar in B Westerns and on television.  She was his female sidekick one of the most powerful female figures in cowboy culture. 

When my time comes, just skin me and put me up there on Trigger, just as though nothing had ever happened.
— Roy Rogers

Hollywood had a hand in shaping the image of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans but there was a presence about these two that defied mythology.

Granted theirs was a mythic frontier complete with gambling, saloons, gunfights, riding the range, and runaway stagecoaches.  But reality didn’t matter much to filmmaking in the ‘30s, 40’s and 50s.  And if you could have your world anyway you like, why not the “sane” world of Roy and Dale.

The Roy Rogers Show starred Roy as a ranch owner.  Dale was the proprietor of the Eureka Cafe in fictional Mineral City.  Pat Brady was Roy’s sidekick and Dale's cook.  The show aired for six seasons from 1951 to 1957.

It was a simple world where simple values ruled.  Escapism.  Action.  Entertainment.  The good guys always won and the problems of the world could be solved in less than 30 minutes.  

He was the “King of the Cowboys” and she was the “Queen of the West.”  Roy and Dale were heroes to millions of kids like me growing up.  Riding the range with these two was always action-packed.  In 1948 an estimated 80 million people had seen Roy’s films.

“We were married for 52 years, a long time,” Dale said about her husband after his death.  “He was a good guy.  People liked him because he was real.  He wasn’t flashy, he was just a real person.”

And then there was Trigger, Roy’s golden palomino.  The two made 86 feature films together and 100 television shows.  Roy was the only cowboy star to make all of his movies with the same horse.  He often joked about what a “ham” Trigger was.  During personal appearances the horse would sometimes break into a dance step at the same moment Roy started talking or singing.

“When my time comes, just skin me and put me up there on Trigger, just as though nothing had ever happened,” Roy said.

Roy and Dale's theme song, "Happy Trails” was written by Dale and they sang it as a duet to sign off their television show. 

Looking back over his career Roy said he was basically an introvert at heart and being in the limelight was never easy for him.

Roy and Dale were the ultimate good guys.  They never killed any villains on the show.  They simply shot the gun out of their hands and when the two went up against evil doers the audience was always in their corner.

On June 25-27 a selection of Roy and Dale’s memorabilia went on the block in Brian Lebel’s Old West Show & Auction held in Denver, Co. 

Roy and Dale

Roy’s Hollywood Wax Figure; dressed in Roy’s clothes; gift from Hollywood Wax Museum of Branson;  $6,900.   

Roy’s Corral Sign; backlit sign, metal body with plastic lettering; hung in his gun room; 36 inches by 9 inches;  $13,800. 

Dale’s Gun Holster and Belt; by San Fernando Saddlery with Colt; the only one Dale used on a regular basis;  $17,250.

Roy’s Spurs; Hollywood Kelly Bros., spurs; with Ed Gilmore straps; no. 106 with ¼ inch band; fully mounted with diamonds and two silver bars on the front;  $20,700.

Roy’s Gun Rig; silver mounted double holster set; manufactured by Ed Gilmore of Hollywood in 1958;  $103,500.

Rosemary McKittrick is a storyteller.  For 26 years she has brought the world of collecting to life in her column.  Her website is a mother lode of information about art, antiques and collectibles.  Rosemary received her education in the trenches working as a professional appraiser.

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