Best known as the King of the Cowboys, Roy Rogers had starred in over 100 films and tv series and is somewhat of a national treasure. From finding love multiple times to achieving his career dreams, this light-hearted cowboy led such an incredible life. Now get ready to saddle up for the adventurous life of Roy Rogers.
1. Roy Rogers Was Born A Mid-Western Boy
Roy Rogers was born under the name of Leonard Franklin Slye in 1911 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He then went on to spend most of his youth in rural Ohio. So how did this mid-western boy end up becoming the "King of the Cowboys"?
2. The Family Decided To Change For A Better Life
The adventure began when Rogers' family decided to leave Ohio and start living a more stable life. After moving twice, Rogers' family finally purchased a farm and built a house in Portsmouth. Living on a farm had slowly groomed Rogers into becoming a real cowboy. But this wasn't the only factor that changed Rogers' life.
3. The Ultimate, Life-Changing Present
In order to keep the family's income at a steady flow, Rogers' father got another job. The bonus of this job meant that he was able to afford to give his children all sorts of interesting gifts, one of which changed Roy's life forever. One Weekend, he brought home a majestic horse. Rogers fell in love with it immediately.
4. Fun On The Farm
Yet, horseback riding wasn't the only form of entertainment that Roy picked up on the farm. At an early age, Roy Rogers loved performing and entertaining others. He sharpened his performing skills in singing, playing the mandolin and dancing.
5. Dropped Out Of School Twice
Roy Rogers kept everyone laughing and joyously entertained, however he realized his family was in need of more income. He dropped out of high school and after this, he found another way to maintain his education. He worked at a shoe factory by day and attended a night school by night. He soon found out it was too much to handle for a teenager, so he dropped out again. So, how did this drop-out boy find his way to Hollywood?
6. California Calls
It all started with his older sister Mary, who got married and moved out west to California. Rogers and his father visited them there Rogers worked as a fruit picker and cowhand. At the time he might have thought he would end up working in manual labor, never thinking he would be switching over to the world of entertainment. After a year Rogers moved to California, and a brand new opportunity came knocking on his door.
7. From A Labor To A Performer
His sister Mary heard about a local radio show Midnight Frolic holding a contest and she encouraged Roy Rogers to audition. While Rogers was used to singing and dancing for his family, doing a radio program was totally new to him. But his ambition took over and he finally nailed the audition!
8. The First Step Into The Music Industry
The opportunity of joining a radio program wasn't a big deal compared to his history-making career later on. Little did anyone know that this was the first step in becoming the “King of the Cowboys.” For the next few years, Rogers bounced around, joining different bands and music groups. But nothing really took off until early 1934.
9. Beginning Of A Legend
Together with Tim Spencer and Bob Nolan, he formed the Pioneers Trios, a musical group later known as the legendary Sons of the Pioneers. As one of the earliest Western musicians, the group was truly considered to be regarded as musical pioneers in Western Country music, known for their unique style of singing, songwriting and overall musicianship. Even today, they are still one of the longest-running country bands and pioneers of the genre.
10. Rogers' First Love
Much like today, musicians had followers and admirers even back then. When Rogers entered the music scene, he met a devoted fan named Lucile Ascolese. The two soon became romantically involved and married in 1933. However, their honeymoon period was short-lived. The couple split up in 1936.
11. Second Marriage
Although his first marriage failed, Rogers was still hopeful of finding love in his life. And sure enough love soon blossomed once again. During his tour in New Mexico in 1933, he met another admirer Grace Arline Wilkins. The two had undeniable chemistry, but at that time, Rogers was a married man. However, the two kept in touch and when Rogers divorced in 1936, they began dating, before eventually getting married in June of the same year.
12. Chasing Dreams
By his mid-twenties, Rogers seemed to have it all. He had his own band and a wife who supported his career. So how did Rogers move on from being a country musician to becoming the King of the Cowboys? In 1935, his band was seen as so groundbreaking that they were offered numerous appearances in all sorts of movies. This was Rogers' first baby step into the film industry as well as his first opportunity in Hollywood. And it would transform him forever.
13. Roy Rogers Is Born
Rogers made his big break in 1938 when he landed the role of Roy Rogers in Under Western Stars. The role was so memorable that from then on, he continued to play it in several films and fans would come to know him by that name. From this moment on, a musician once known as Leonard Slye, became Roy Rogers, the King of the Cowboys!
14. Marriage Life
Rogers wasn't only focused on his acting career, he also wanted to have a big family. Unfortunately, the couple had trouble conceiving a child. After several failed attempts, Rogers and Grace decided to adopt a girl Cheryl Darlene Rogers in 1941, their first addition to the family.
15. Surprises and Heartbreaks
Rogers and his wife were living a happy life with their adopted daughter. Just when they thought nothing could be better, they found out that Grace was pregnant with a baby daughter. Soon they welcomed Linda Lou in 1943. This wasn't the end of the joyous ride for the family. Two years later they welcomed a baby boy named Roy Jr. However, it came with heartbreak for Roy as well. Grace passed away due to complications during the birth, leaving Roy devastated and widowed.
16. New Blossoms
Soon after Grace's passing, Roy reconnected with the charming actress Dale Evans, with whom he co-starred in a movie Cowboy and the Senorita. They were both single, and soon they found themselves with feelings for one another. During one rodeo show, Rogers got down on one knee and proposed to Evens in front of thousands of fans. It was an iconic moment. The two movie icons were finally starting the next chapter in their lives together in 1947.
17. The Funniest Man She Ever Knew
Cheryl Rogers Barnett, the first adopted daughter of the family, who mostly grew up with Dale Evans as a mother, shared her memories from her parents in an interview. She said "Mom considered Dad the funniest man she ever knew. He was a terrible tease. Just as she was about to explode, he would throw out a one-liner and have her laughing until tears came."
18. A Growing Family
Roy Rogers was a family man and Dale Evans shared the same notion with him. Despite being struck with the news that they would be unable to conceive any children, the couple decided to adopt. With three children from Rogers' previous marriage, the couple adopted four more, named Dodie, Debbie, Mimi and Sandy.
19. Losing Three Out Of Nine
Roy and his wives ended up adopting a total of five children in their lifetimes. But Roy didn't treat any of his children as less or more important. He loved them all the same, which is exactly why it pained him so much to lose three of them. Roy and Dale lost their only biological daughter, Robin Elizabeth, to heart failure. They later lost two of their adopted kids, one daughter died in a bus accident and one son passed away in a military hospital.
20. A Living Legend
Despite the tragedies in his personal life, Rogers stayed strong and achieved tremendous success in his career. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame twice, the only person to accomplish that. Besides, he pushed the boundaries in Hollywood as well, receiving three stars for his work in radio, film, and television. Later in life, he received several other awards including the Golden Boot award in 1983 and the Golden Boot Founders' Award in 1993.
21. A Long-Lasting Legacy
Roy Rogers and Dale Evans endured through both happy and tragic moments, holding each other's hands, and remained together until death finally parted them. Roy Rogers passed away due to heart failure in 1998, while Dale Evans died from the same issue in 2001. Known as King of the Cowboys, he may have left the world, but still resides in our hearts, beloved for his extraordinary performances, superb musical skills, and firm personality.