Queen of the West Wednesday, Chapter Seven

Chapter Seven. “It’s Not the First Love”: Romance with Roy Rogers

Dale Evans attended Arline Rogers’s funeral on November 6, 1946, one of six hundred mourners at the Church of the Recessional at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale.

Roy and wife Arline at home with nine week old Linda Lou and 3 year old Cheryl. Note the painting of Trigger (or is it Little Trigger?) on the wall done by famous Danish western painter Olaf Wieghorst. It was painted by Wieghorst before he became famous. He'd been a policeman in New York City which is where Roy met the artist during one of his early Madison Square Garden appearances. The painting was sold after Roy and Dale's deaths at a High Noon auction in Mesa, Arizona for $25,000. (Thanks to Bobby Copeland, Mike Johnson, Leo Pando.)

(Roy Rogers, Arline Rogers, and their two daughters, baby Linda Lou and three-year-old Cheryl, 1943)

Days after giving birth to their son, Roy Rogers, Jr., thirty-one-year-old Arline died from a blood clot in her brain. Roy found himself a widower with three young children to care for. He spent some time at home with them and hired staff to watch over them when he returned to work by the end of the month.

Dale Evans and Roy Rogers performed together on a radio show, the Saturday Night Roundup, and in live performances in and around Los Angeles during the late fall and early winter. “Once more, Roy and I were together most of our waking hours,” Dale later recalled.

Roy Rogers and Dale Evans" (ca. 1947). Postcard F-112, po… | Flickr

(Dale Evans and Roy Rogers at a public appearance, 1947)

Now, they were both unattached, and rumors of romance began almost immediately. It was a tricky public relations situation for Republic Pictures, which supported the professional pairing of Dale Evans and Roy Rogers but not a personal one. This provided Dale with the unexpected (and longed-for) opportunity to return to non-Western films.

The Trespasser poster.jpg(Republic Pictures)

But also unexpected: Dale’s feelings for Roy. 1947 would bring major changes to her life.

 

Queen of the West Wednesday, Chapter Six

Chapter Six. The Big Show-Off: Hollywood Glamour Girl or Cowgirl?

In February 1944, Republic cast Dale Evans in The Yellow Rose of Texas, another Roy Rogers film.

Movie Posters:Miscellaneous, The Yellow Rose of Texas (Republic 1944) One Sheet (27"X41") Roy
Rogers' "Texas" related titles are considered to be some of...

The movie theater poster illustrates why Dale wanted to avoid appearing in Roy Rogers’s movies. Note the top billing in the upper right-hand corner: Roy Rogers, King of the Cowboys, and Trigger, Smartest Horse in the Movies. Dale’s name was placed at the bottom, below the studio’s name and logo. A horse received a more prominent credit than she did, though her image was more dominantly placed.

Dale worried about this. She doubted she could achieve the stardom she worked so hard for by appearing in westerns. Male actors were the big names in cowboy movies, not women. So Dale hoped her pairing with Roy Rogers in The Cowboy and the Senorita would be a one-time thing. But Herbert Yates, studio head at Republic, believed he found the ideal partner for his popular singing cowboy. Yates knew Dale was unhappy. She told him so, her agent told him so. He didn’t care; he had her under contract. If she didn’t appear in the movies he assigned her to, he would suspend her and she wouldn’t work at all. And to become a star, Dale needed to work.

Dale Evans was in an impossible professional situation. The only thing that made it bearable was her pleasant working relationship with Roy Rogers.

(historyinink.com)

Another Television Tale From 2912

Last month, I talked about my Saturday morning television viewing when I was a child in the 1960s. My siblings and I almost always opted for cartoons, but occasionally we would watch reruns of The Roy Rogers Show, which was how I first discovered Dale Evans.

Roy Rogers and Dale Evans in The Roy Rogers Show

(From the episode “Desert Fugitives,” via RoyRogersWorld.com.)

And then there were Sunday afternoons. For those of us growing up in the Chicago area in the 1960s and 1970s, this meant Family Classics, hosted by Frazier Thomas, who also delighted us weekday afternoons with his Garfield Goose show. Family Classics aired on WGN, back when it was a local television station, channel 9.

Craigs Lost Chicago | Chicago history, Chicago, Chicago pictures

(craigslostchicago.com)

Family Classics was all about movies. Thomas selected one from the WGN library that he considered family friendly, then edited it to remove portions he believed might frighten young children. Mostly I remember watching these movies in the winter, when it was too dark and too cold to do much of anything else in the late afternoon. Our mother would be cooking dinner in the kitchen, and I think what worried us most is that she would call us to the table before the movie was over. But that rarely happened. Our parents trusted Thomas’s choices, considered these good movies, and once started, usually allowed us to watch to the end.

(TV Guide ad)

Yes, I remember watching Sink the Bismarck, and for a while we could all sing its theme song, too. I first saw Boys Town and Heidi on Family Classics, both of which gave me glimpses of childhoods totally different from mine. The show introduced me to science fiction: The Day the Earth Stood Still, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and The Time Machine. (Because of Thomas’s editing, it was many years before I learned what those Morlocks were up to.) At Christmas time, we turned on Family Classics to watch A Christmas Carol, Miracle on 34th Street, and Hans Christian Anderson.

Poster for the 1960 film The Time Machine.jpg

And there was Lassie Come Home. I didn’t like this as much as the Lassie television show, especially the seasons with young Timmy and his kind mother, played by June Lockhart. My mother told me that when I was very young, I cried when the credits rolled at the end. That theme music always sounded so mournful to me, and Lassie looked so sad, sitting there all alone. The animal movie I really looked forward to was Snowfire, about a girl who lives on a ranch and tells everyone she has befriended a wild white stallion that locals believe is dangerous. It was great family drama, complete with a beautiful horse.

Snowfire (1957) - IMDb

(IMDb)

Frazier Thomas and his Family Classics introduced me to movies, and I’ve been a fan ever since. (I prefer them uncut and uncensored now.) Cold, dark, winter afternoons remind me of the warmth Family Classics brought into our house. And I’ve spent a lifetime dreaming of having the same kind of cozy library Thomas had for his books.

Queen of the West Wednesday, Chapter Five

Chapter Five. The Cowboy and the Senorita: Rising Star at Republic Pictures

In a fit of pique, Dale Evans severed her relationship with Art Rush and signed with Danny Winkler, a friend of Joe Rivkin and an agent long associated with Myron Selznick’s firm.

Dale Evans - ca.1942
Pic Source: @cjubarrington (Twitter)

(Dale Evans c. 1942)

Dale had not even been in Hollywood for a year and a half, and she was already on her third agent. Losing Joe Rivkin, who brought her out there in the first place, had been out of her control. With the United States at war, Rivkin signed up for military service. He recommended that Dale talk to Art Rush about representation. Rush had worked for RCA Victor Records before opening his own talent agency in 1939, with some high-profile singers/actors signing on.

Front entrance to the Hollywood Canteen, Vine St., Hollywood, 1942

(Hollywood Canteen on Vine Street, 1942)

Though Dale Evans and Art Rush initially worked well together, it only took a few months for her to conclude that he was not paying adequate attention to her career. She accused him of spending all his time promoting his favorite client, his rising star, the singing cowboy Roy Rogers. Dale had nothing against Roy. Rush had introduced the two of them when they both appeared at an Army air base in California to perform for the troops. Dale liked Roy, found him “a very real person.” But she had no intention of playing second fiddle to him with Art Rush. So Dale fired Rush and moved on to her third agent.

In early 1943, Danny Winkler arranged an audition at Republic Pictures. Dale Evans wowed everyone at the small studio, and she was hired. Ironically, Roy Rogers was also under contract there, one of the studio’s biggest “B”-movie stars. And in another twist, Dale’s career at Republic did not really take off until she was featured in 1944’s The Cowboy and the Senorita–with Roy Rogers.

Cowboy and the Senorita (1944) movie poster

This was not what Dale Evans envisioned for her Hollywood stardom. She had to figure out what to do about it.

Women’s History Month 2022

My favorite  “rabbit rabbit” of the year is the first day of March, not just because of the good luck wishes, but because it’s the start of Women’s History Month.

On the 1st of the Month: Don't Forget To Say "Rabbit Rabbit"! - Farmers'  Almanac

This year, the National Women’s History Alliance has selected “Providing Healing, Promoting Hope” as the annual theme. It’s both timely and historical. We are still dealing with Covid, and many women earn wages in the health care field. Many more, as mothers and/or family care givers, are the front line health providers in their homes.

2022 Theme Products

Historically, women have always done the latter. And it’s taken generations of struggle for them to break into the professions to become doctors and nurses. Janice Nimura recently wrote about sisters Elizabeth and Emily Blackwell who broke the male-students-only medical school barrier in the 1800s. Olivia Campbell, in Women in White Coats, focused her book on Elizabeth Blackwell, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, and Sophia Jex-Blake. And my 2020 biography told the story of Dr. Mary Walker and her determination to serve with the U.S. Army as a physician during the Civil War.

Elizabeth Blackwell

(Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell)

My most recent book, Queen of the West: The Life and Times of Dale Evans, also relates to this year’s Women’s History Month Theme. Dale experienced a lot of heartache in her life. Most of it had to do with her children. To cope with it, and to try to help others in similar situations, Dale turned to prose writing. In 1953, she published Angel Unaware, her best selling book that has gone through multiple printings and editions. If you follow along with my Queen of the West Wednesdays here on this blog, you’ll probably learn more about that episode of Dale’s life. (Of course, the book tells the whole story!)

Hardcover Angel Unaware: A Touching Story of Love and Loss Book

I wish you all a happy, safe, and book-filled Women’s History Month.