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Music / Gene Autry

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The man in the white cowboy hat was a hero to me
He was then, he is now, and I guess he always will be
And every so often I go back in time and I dream
And I see Gene Autry go ridin' across the big screen
Marty Robbins, "Gene Autry, My Hero"

The Singing Cowboy and Star of The Gene Autry Show, Orvon Grover "Gene" Autry (September 29, 1907 October 2, 1998) was a singer, songwriter, guitarist, and actor. He worked as an actual cowboy in his early life, and had playing and singing gigs dating from The Roaring '20s onward.

In 1937, Autry recorded an original song written by himself titled "That Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine", which went on to become the first record ever to be certified in gold for over a million copies sold. In 1939, he received another gold record, this time for what would eventually become his Signature Song: "Back in the Saddle Again".

Autry also acted in several Westerns, both on TV and in the movies, and was the original owner of Major League Baseball's Los Angeles Angels. By the time he retired from show business in 1964, he had appeared in nearly 100 films and made over 600 records. His body of work is credited with help bringing Country Music to a national audience. He is to date the only person to have a Hollywood Walk of Fame Star awarded in each of the five categories (film, television, music, radio, and live performance).

Tropes associated with his work:

  • As Himself: He played fictional versions of himself on The Gene Autry Show and in a number of films and radio programs.
  • Christmas Songs: Autry recorded quite a few of of them, most notably the original hit versions of such favorites as "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer", "Frosty the Snowman", and "Here Comes Santa Claus" (the latter of which he helped write).
  • Cowboy: His persona saw him portray a singing cowboy in his various projects.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Some of the recordings he did in the early '30s contained themes of bootlegging, corrupt police and women who worked in vice type occupations. These themes were largely absent in the work he did afterwards.
  • Friendly Rivalry: With fellow singing-cowboy star Roy Rogers.
  • Grief Song: "That Silver Haired Daddy of Mine", a song about the narrator wishing that they could "turn back the pages of time" for their dying father. Doubles as a Parental Love Song.
  • Serial Escalation: The only performer ever to have all five possible stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, namely Film, Television, Radio, Musical Recording, and Other (referring to his performances as a trick rider on the rodeo circuit).
  • Singer-Songwriter: Its estimated that over half of the 600 songs Autry recorded over his singing career were either written by himself or co-written with someone else.
  • Snowlems: "Frosty the Snowman" is about a snowman who comes to life thanks to a magic hat.
  • Titled After the Song: Many of Autry's films were titled after songs that would appear in said-film.