He was born in Tioga, Texas on September 29, 1907. The future singer was raised in both Texas and Oklahoma.
Discovered and Beginning
He was “found” by humorist Will Rogers, in 1929. With Will’s help, he was started out as "Oklahoma's Yodeling Cowboy" in Tulsa, Oklahoma. After beginning to get popular, he received a recording contract with Columbia Records. Soon, he performed on the "National Barn Dance" for radio station WLS in Chicago.
The Silver Screen
Gene Autry appeared on film from 1934 to 1953. He starred in 93 feature films. In the year 1940, theater exhibitors of America voted him the fourth biggest box office attraction (Behind Mickey Rooney, Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy).
The singer made 640 recordings, including over 300 songs which were written or co-written by him. He has more than a dozen gold and platinum records, including the first record ever certified gold. His Christmas and children's records Here Comes Santa Claus and Peter Cottontail are among his platinum recordings.
In 1942, he joined the Army Air Corps. Autry, now a Sgt., he ferried fuel, ammunition, and arms in the China-India-Burma theater of war and flew over the Himalayas, the hazardous air route known as "The Hump." When the war ended Autry was reassigned to Special Services, where he toured with a USO troupe in the South Pacific before resuming his movie career in 1946.
In 1950, Autry was the first major movie star to use the television medium. He stared in and produced the CBS 91 episode half-hour TV show, The Gene Autry Show. The success of this show lead him to produce other shows including Annie Oakley, The Range Rider, Buffalo Bill Jr. and The Adventures of Champion. He also produced the first 39 episodes of Death Valley Days.
Autry loved baseball. With this love, he acquired the American League California Angels as of 1961. He was active in Major League Baseball, even holding the title of Vice President of the American League until his death. When the Angels won the World Series a few years after Gene died, the center field scoreboard lit up at the end of the game with the message "the cowboy is still singing."
Autry is also the only entertainer with five stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The first for Radio, another for Recording, another for Movies, and another Television. The last one was for Live Theatre/performance.
In addition, he received:
- American Academy of Achievement Award
- Los Angeles Area Governor's Emmy from The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences
- Board of Directors Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Achievement in Arts Foundation
- Songwriters Guild Life Achievement Award
- Lifetime Achievement award from ASCAP
He was inducted into
- Country Music Hall of Fame
- Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame
- The National Cowboy Hall of Fame
- The National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame
Gene Autry died at his home in Studio City, California on October 2, 1998. He was 91 years old.
Gene Autry's Cowboy Code
- A cowboy never takes unfair advantage - even of an enemy.
- A cowboy never betrays a trust. He never goes back on his word.
- A cowboy always tells the truth.
- A cowboy is kind and gentle to small children, old folks, and animals.
- A cowboy is free from racial and religious intolerances.
- A cowboy is always helpful when someone is in trouble.
- A cowboy is always a good worker.
- A cowboy respects womanhood, his parents and his nation's laws.
- A cowboy is clean about his person in thought, word, and deed.
- A cowboy is a Patriot.