Gene Autry


Gene Autry:  1907-1998

After high school Gene Autry worked as a laborer for the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad in Oklahoma. Next he was a telegrapher. In 1928 he began singing on a local radio station, and three years later he had his own show and was making his first recordings. Three years after that he made his film debut in KenMaynard's In Old Santa Fe (1934) and starred in a 13-part serial the following year for Mascot Pictures, The Phantom Empire (1935). The next year he signed a contract with Republic Pictures and began making westerns. Autry--for better or worse--pretty much ushered in the era of the "singing cowboy" westerns of the 1930s and 1940s (in spite of the presence in his oaters of automobiles, radios and airplanes). These films often grossed ten times their average $50,000 production costs. During World War II he enlisted in the US Army and was assigned as a flight officer from 1942-46 with the Air Transport Command. After his military service he returned to making movies, this time with Columbia Pictures, and finally with his own company, Flying A Productions, which, during the 1950s, produced his TV series "The Gene Autry Show" (1950), "The Adventures of Champion" (1955), and "Annie Oakley" (1954). He wrote over 200 songs. A savvy businessman, he retired from acting in the early 1960s and became a multi-millionaire from his investments in hotels, real estate, radio stations and the California Angels professional baseball team.  

In 1940,  Gene was the 4th highest grossing box office attraction according to Theater Exhibitors of America.

By 1948, Dell Publishing was printing over 1,000,000 Gene Autry Comic Books per year.

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1a.  In Old Santa Fe (1934) - Ken Maynard and Gabby Hayes (with Gene Autry & Smiley Burnette’s  first screen appearance

Big city gangsters arrive at the dude ranch and trouble begins for ranch hand Kentucky (Ken Maynard). He loses his horse Tarzan in a rigged horse race and gets framed for murder. 

The movie features the first screen appearance of Gene Autry, singing a song with a bluegrass band that includes Smiley Burnette. Although both Autry and Burnette were unbilled, the scene served as a screen test for the duo for a long series of subsequent singing cowboy films, beginning with The Phantom Empire, which had originally been slated for Maynard.  

NOTE: The opening credits of this re-release shows Gene Autry as the star of this picture.  This is false. Ken Maynard was the star of this picture. 

1b. The Phantom Empire (1935) - Gene Autry (based on the movie serial)

click here for-->Gene Autry Serial - Phantom Empire

Cowboy singer Gene Autry stumbles upon a civilization buried beneath his own Radio Ranch. The Muranians have developed technology and weaponry such as television and ray guns. Their rich supply of radium draws unscrupulous speculators from the surface. The peaceful civilization of the Muranians is corrupted by the greed from above, and it becomes Autry's task to prevent all-out war, ideally without disrupting his regular radio show.

Fleeing the law, Wolf Benson hops on a train, throws Gene Autry off, and assumes Autry's identity. Still posing as Autry he robs and kills Autry's friend Lee. When Autry is jailed, his friends Frog and the Professor break him out and the three head out to clear him of the murder charge.

2b.  Ride Ranger Ride (1936) – Gene Autry:

Gene Autry is a Texas Ranger working undercover to protect an Army wagon train full of ammunition and supplies from Indian attack.

3.  The Big Show, The (1936) – Gene Autry:

Movie cowboy Tom Ford (Gene Autry), star of Mammouth Film Productions, goes on vacation before Wilson (William Newell), studio publicity man, can notify him that he is to make a personal appearance at the 1936 Texas Centennial celebration in Dallas. Unable to locate Ford, the desperate Wilson substitutes Fords exact-double and stunt man, Gene Autry (Gene Autry again.) Gene goes along only to help Wilson out but wants to reveal his true identity throughout the hoax.

4.  Red River Valley  [TV Title - Man of the Frontier]  (1936) - Gene Autry:

Bull and his men and their unknown boss are out to stop the completion of the dam being built by Baxter. Gene Autry takes the job of ditch rider, the previous riders having been killed by the gang. When Bull and his men rob the payroll, Gene chases them down.

5.  Man of the Frontier (1936) - Gene Autry

Gene Autry and Frog (Smiley Burnette) set out to find out who has been causing the accidents at a dam construction site.

6.  The Old Corral (1936) - Gene Autry

Starring Gene Autry, Smiley Burnette, Irene Manning (billed as "Hope Manning"), and Lon Chaney, Jr., and featuring an uncredited and unshaven Roy Rogers as the leader of the criminal "O'Keefe Brothers", played by the singing Sons of the Pioneers.  Rogers' first appearance, in which he and his gang robs a busload of people, ends with Autry threatening to arrest Rogers as soon as he's back on a horse.

Parker (LeRoy Mason) steals cattle from the cattlemen and blames it on the turpentiners.  Then he incites the cattlemen to burn down the turpentiners trees. When Gene Autry finds the rustled cattle he tries to kill him. Failing, he kills both Gene's father (Charles Middleton) and Bayliss Baynum (Russell Simpson) and has Gene arrested for Baynum's murder.

Ranch owner Sandra Knight (Polly Rowles), fresh from a Chicago animal husbandry school, brings a flock of sheep into cattle country.   The local ranchers don't like it, and ranch foreman Gene Autry must deal with it.

Gene Autry and Frog (Smiley Burnette) head for South Africa where Gene's brother Tex (Ken Cooper) has found diamonds.  Arriving they find Tex missing.  Heading into the jungle, they are captured by a local tribe. Frog's magic gets Gene's release and Gene finds Tex. But Tex is a prisoner and Gene quickly finds himself a prisoner also.

10.  Public Cowboy No. 1 (1937) - Gene Autry
Shannon (Arthur Loft) is running a modern rustling operation using an airplane to spot the cattle, short wave radio to alert the rustlers, and trucks to haul away the beef.  When the aging Sheriff Doniphan (William Farnum) is unable to bring them in, he is replaced by an eastern detective.   But Doniphan's deputy (Gene Autry) suspects Shannon and sets a trap to nab him and his gang.

Maxwell (William Farnum) is trying to bring in an oil well and Wilkens (Weldon Heyburn) is out to stop him.  When his attempted robbery of Maxwell's payroll fails, he tells the ranchers who invested on Gene Autry's advise that the well is dry.  But Gene knows there is oil there and with everyone after him he heads for the well to try and bring it in with dynamite.

Scanlon (Ivan Miller) is pulling off a land swindle by selling lots in a ghost town claiming the power company is bringing in a line. As a bonus he throws in shares in a worthless gold mine. Gene Autry is on to Scanlon and tries to get him to buy back the deeds by salting the mine with gold. But when a new vein is really discovered Gene has to stop the sales but is trapped in the mine by Scanlon's men

13.  Radio Ranch (1940) - Gene Autry
AKA Men with Steel Faces.  Re-edited feature version of serial The Phantom Empire (1935).  Singer Gene Autry discovers a race of advanced humans living beneath the earth.

Gene Autry plays a double role, incorporating flashbacks as his sheriff father Steve who, 20 years prior, had arrested a trio of stagecoach bandits that are now prison escapees and have returned to their former hunting grounds, in the area where Gene owns a spread, to regain their secreted loot.

15The Big Sombrero (1949) - Gene Autry [COLOR]

Gene Autry is hired to be foreman of the Big Sombrero ranch by Jim Garland (Stephen Dunne), who is handling all the business affairs of the owner

16.  Riders of Whistling Pines (1949) - Gene Autry

Bad guys Henry, Bill and Pete head a gang of outlaws who are destroying the timberland. When Gene Autry butts in they frame him on a cattle-poisoning charge and set him up for murder.

17. The Old Barn Dance ( 1938) - Gene Autry 

Gene and his boys ride into town to set up a barn dance and a horse sale.  However, most of the ranchers have recently purchased new tractors, and have no need for horses.  Meanwhile, Sally, the manager of the struggling, local radio station, convinces Gene and his boys to sign on for a regular show, omitting to tell him that the station's main sponsor is the tractor company, and the owner of that company may very well turn out to be a...seedy individual.  With a guest appearance by Roy Rogers.

18. Cowboy and the Indians (1949)  - Gene Autry

Gene gets angry when he discovers sheep from the nearby Indian reserve are trampling around his cattle land, but when he rides over to confront them he discovers they’re plight, (they're poor and hungry), and  he’s just got to help them out. This puts him into conflict with some seedy individuals. 


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