Gene Autry, America’s First Singing Cowboy

- *Simpkins, Daphne
Gene (born Orvon) Autry first learned to play a guitar he bought from the Sears Roebuck catalog for eight dollars. Dirt poor, as a kid Autry did odd jobs for neighbors and worked for his uncle. His dad wasn’t around much, and his mama was sickly but she taught him music. Later he would say, “I was raised on the 23rd psalm.”

Autry helped take care of his mama and provide for his siblings. His first real job as a young man was as a telegraph operator, but he saw that changes were coming, and he didn’t think he had much job security. He decided to try singing, settling down to a kind of cowboy crooning that others enjoyed hearing. In the beginning, Autry was known for singing old favorites, like "Red River Valley" and "You Are My Sunshine." His interest in music expanded from westerns and country to popular holiday hits, like "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "Frosty the Snowman," and "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town."

Autry was also part of the change as silent movies became talkies. In all, he appeared in 93 movies. Then, television was invented. Autry adapted, creating his own production studio. He helped create a western TV series for girls featuring Annie Oakley because he thought girls should have their own heroes, too.

Autry’s life story is an inspiring one. In movies and in life, Gene Autry was the good guy in the white hat. A smile on his face and with a song in his heart, the Singing Cowboy also kept cash in both pockets to give to people less fortunate than himself.

If your group grew up with westerns, they will enjoy this down-home talk about Gene Autry, America’s First Singing Cowboy.

To book this talk, contact Daphne Simpkins:
Phone: 334.396.8618
Email: [email protected]

*Daphne is a dementia-friendly presenter and welcomes the opportunity to serve all age groups, including those with memory or dementia issues.