Queen of the West Wednesday, Chapters Thirteen and Fourteen

This is it–the final Queen of the West Wednesday. The book officially launches on Friday, April 15. It’s hard to believe I started this series way back on February 2! Thanks for sticking with it or for popping in now and then. Here are the final two chapters, along with their opening lines.

Chapter Thirteen. A Date with Dale: Maintaining a Television Career

A period of calm set in for Dale Evans and Roy Rogers, so they took the opportunity to try something new to reach more existing fans and perhaps acquire new ones.

It was the late 1960s, and Dale was in her mid-fifties. She and Roy still hoped to land a prime time television show but had no luck. They opened a museum in Apple Valley to showcase their movie and t.v. careers. Dale wrote books as she wrestled with the social, political, and cultural changes of the decade. In the early 1970s she began planning her own Christian talk show. After more than a decade, it finally appeared in 1985 on the Trinity Broadcasting Network as A Date with Dale, a thirty-minute weekly program that focused on Christian and spiritual topics.

Roy Rogers Museum - Apple Valley, California | Apple valley california,  California, Roy rogers

(postcard of the museum in Apple Valley, CA)

Chapter Fourteen. “Thank Heavens for Dale Evans”: Becoming the Legendary Cowgirl

While Dale Evans was never exactly put on a pedestal, she received more honors during this late stage of her life, often accompanied by descriptions of her as a “legend.”

In 1990, a new, all-female group then known as the Dixie Chicks, wrote a song about her. Through that decade, despite a myriad of health problems, Dale filmed episodes of A Date with Dale, recorded more songs, and wrote more books. She endured the death of her beloved husband, Roy Rogers, in 1998, and died at home three years later, surrounded by family.


Happy trails, everyone!

Queen of the West Wednesday, Chapter Eight

Chapter Eight. “Queen of the Westerns”: Holding on to Movie Stardom

Right after the nuptial-sealing kiss, Art Rush announced, “What a way to start a wedding—with the house on fire!”

The Archivist: Roy-al wedding, Oklahoma style

(Oklahoman archives photo)

On a snowy New Year’s Eve of 1947, Dale Evans married Roy Rogers at the Oklahoma ranch home of friends. The nervous groom may have started a small wastebasket fire with a still-lit cigarette butt while he waited for the wedding to begin. But Roy and his best man (and long-time agent) Art Rush put it out quickly and were only a few minutes late to the ceremony.

Dale Evans not only became a wife again, but she also became a mother to Roy’s three young children. Her son Tommy was now a college student; it had been twenty years since she had taken care of a little one. And being a stepmother proved more challenging than being a teenage mother.

Roy Rogers And Dale Evans High Resolution Stock Photography and Images -  Alamy

Dale also faced a setback in her career. Herbert Yates, head of Republic, disapproved of Roy Rogers marrying his costar, but he couldn’t do anything to punish one of his biggest box office draws. So, as Walter Winchell reported shortly after the wedding, Dale “got a nice wedding present from Republic Studios, which also employs her groom. She got fired.”

Dale Evans had no intention of giving up what she had worked so hard to achieve. Until she could make her way back to the silver screen, she found opportunities to cultivate her Western image, including launching her own comic book, which identified her as “Queen of the Westerns.”

Dale Evans Comics #1 VG/FN 5.0 1948 | eBay

That nickname, or some variation of it, would follow Dale Evans the rest of her life.

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.