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Gene Autry

Gene Autry

According to a Hollywood legend, published in The Orange County Register after his death, Autry was discovered singing in a telegraph office in Oklahoma by Will Rogers. Rogers told him that he had a pretty good voice, and suggested that he go to Hollywood where he could make some money singing in the movies. Gene followed Rogers' advice and became "The Singing Cowboy." Autry himself related this story in an interview with Cecil B. DeMille on the Lux Radio Drama Hour. In the interview, Gene added that the next time he saw Rogers was in Hollywood. According to Gene, Will just nodded and said, "I see you made it, kid."

After leaving high school in 1925, Gene Autry worked as a telegrapher for the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway.

Autry was the first owner of the Los Angeles Angels American League baseball club, subsequently renamed the California Angels when the team was relocated to Anaheim in 1966. (The team has been renamed twice: the Anaheim Angels, and now the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.) A radio station owner, Autry was interested in acquiring the broadcasting rights to the Angels games when he found out the team, part of the American League's first expansion, was for sale. He bought it. Autry owned the team in its entirety from its first year of play, 1961, until 1997, when he sold part of the franchise to Disney, who renamed the team the Anaheim Angels. Autry's widow sold the rest of the team to Disney after his death the next year at the age of 91.

Biography in: "American National Biography". Supplement 1, pp. 19-22. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

During the war, he was awarded the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.



During World War II, when he left Republic Pictures to join the U.S. Army, he was the only officer allowed to wear cowboy boots with his uniform.

Elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1969.

Gene Autry is the only celebrity to have five stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Gene Autry was inducted into the Western Music Associaton Hall of Fame in 1989.

Gene Auttry was inducted into the Gennett Walk of Fame. Gennett (pronounced with a soft G) was a United States based record label which flourished in the 1920s. Gennett is best remembered for its wealth of early jazz talent, including Jelly Roll Morton, Bix Beiderbecke, "King" Joe Oliver's band (with young Louis Armstrong), Hoagy Carmichael, Duke Ellington and many others. In September 2007, the Starr-Gennett Foundation began to recognize the most important Gennett artists on a Walk of Fame near the site of Gennett's Richmond, Indiana recording studio. It is located along South 1st Street in Richmond at the site of the Starr Piano Company and embedded in the Whitewater Gorge Trail, which connects to the longer Cardinal Greenway Trail. Both trails are part of the American Discovery Trail, the only coast-to-coast, non-motorized recreational trail.

Gene did a lot work with preserving artifacts of the "Old West", including many Indian relics, and had a museum containing many of these articles.

Grandson of an itinerant preacher, he became a multi-millionaire through his investments and real estate holdings.

He was the most popular of the "singing cowboys." In his heyday he was making six to eight feature westerns a year.

His first hit record was "That Silver Haired Daddy Of Mine" in 1932.

In 1940, the National Association of Theater Owners voted him the fourth biggest box office attraction, behind Mickey Rooney, Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy.

In 1992 he was said to be worth $320 million.

In response to his millions of young fans who wanted to be like Gene Autry, he developed a code of conduct, "The Cowboy Code", which is as follows: 1. The Cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or take unfair advantage. 2. He must never go back on his word, or a trust confided in him. 3. He must always tell the truth. 4. He must be gentle with children, the elderly, and animals. 5. He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas. 6. He must help people in distress. 7. He must be a good worker. 8. He must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action, and personal habits. 9. He must respect women, parents, and his nation's laws. 10. The Cowboy is a patriot.

In the 1950s, Autry had been a minority owner of the minor-league Hollywood Stars. In 1960, when Major League Baseball announced plans to add an expansion team in Los Angeles, Autry-who had once declined an opportunity to play in the minor leagues-expressed an interest in acquiring the radio broadcast rights to the team's games. Baseball executives were so impressed by his approach that he was persuaded to become the owner of the franchise rather than simply its broadcast partner. The team, initially called the Los Angeles Angels upon its 1961 debut, moved to suburban Anaheim in 1966, and was re-named the California Angels, then the Anaheim Angels from 1997 until 2005, when it became the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Autry served as vice president of the American League from 1983 until his death.

Inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 1972.

Inducted into the Hall of Great Westerners of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 1980.

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