Dale Evans: Queen of the West

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Dale was born Frances Octavia Smith, October 31, 1912 in Uvalde, Texas.

At age fourteen, Dale eloped with her high school sweetheart. A year later, she found herself in Memphis, Tennessee a single parent, pursuing a career in music. She found a position with local radio stations singing and playing piano. After trying a few stage names she eventually came up with the name Dale Evans with the help of the station manager from the radio station where she was employed.

As Dale Evans, she ultimately reached Chicago and she became a vocalist with a number of different “big bands” and was featured soloist in and around Chicago. Anson Weeks hired her as vocalist for his orchestra just as they began a major tour to the West Coast. After a two-month stand at The Coconut Grove, Dale left the Orchestra and returned to Chicago where she was hired as staff singer for radio station WBBM, the local CBS affiliate. Talent scouts from Paramount Studios discovered her and arranged a screen test and she periodically received small roles in several movies.

Herbert Yates, head of Republic Studios was inspired by the successful stage play, Oklahoma, and decided to expand the female lead in westerns and adopt this format for one of his biggest stars, Roy Rogers. In 1944 with release of The Cowboy and The Senorita was the first of 28 movies that Dale and Roy would make together. This on-screen team became an off-screen team on New Year’s Eve, 1947. They were married on the Flying L Ranch in Davis, Oklahoma, where they had just completed filming Home in Oklahoma.

An instant family was formed. Dale had her son, Tom, and Roy had an adopted daughter, Cheryl, and birth children Linda Lou and Roy Rogers, Jr., “Dusty”, from his first wife, Arline, ‘who had died after Dusty’s birth. Roy and Dale had one child together, Robin, whose death from complications associated with Down’s syndrome inspired Dale’s classic book, Angel Unaware. The family swelled with the addition of Mary Little Doe (Dodie), of Native American heritage: John David (Sandy), a battered child from an orphanage in Kentucky; Marion (Mimi), their foster child from Scotland; and Debbie, a Korean War orphan whose father was a G.I. of Puerto Rican ancestry.

The family lost three of the children tragically: Robin (as mentioned above), Debbie, in a church bus accident when she was twelve, and Sandy of an accidental death while serving with the military in Germany.

In 1950, Roy and Dale developed their own production company and began producing their half-hour television series, The Roy Rogers Show, that ran until 1957. These episodes have been translated into every major language and, at any given time, are likely being shown somewhere in the world. The same is true of their movies. The Roy Rogers show was a staple TV program in many a household across America. Dale wrote the lyrics to the shows theme song “Happy Trails to You”. Hearing that theme song even now instantly transports baby boomers back into a time when the pop culture of the wild west was embedded in the hearts of kids every where.

Among the many honors of which Dale was most proud are: California Mother of the Year (1967);
The Texas Press Association’s Texan of the Year (1970); Cowgirl Hall of Fame (1995); Cardinal Terrence Cook Humanities Award (1995); and her three stars on The Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Upon retirement, Dale continued as a best selling author and always seemed to have at least one book in development. There was also her weekly television show A Date With Dale for Trinity Broadcast Network. It, too, was translated into all the major languages and shown worldwide. Dale Evans especially enjoyed being a grandmother and great grandmother. Dale passed away February 7, 2001, 3 years after her husband Roy Rogers.

The Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum was established in Victorville, California which vividly chronicled their lives, and the values and ethics that represent the basis of their worldwide appeal. In 2003 the museum was moved to Bronson, Mo. Due to declining tourism and economic factors the Museum was closed in December 2009.

Dale Evans riding on her horse Buttermilk will always be remembered as the Queen of West in the hearts of both men and women.

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Texas Events

Prairies and Lakes March Events

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Prairie and Lakes Events Arlington March 31…Maverick Speaker Series: Jane Goodall…College Park Center at UT Arlington Belton Through March 12… Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race…www.bellcountymuseum.org March 12…Bell County Museum Great Garage Sale…www.bellcountymuseum.org March 12-18…Spring Break at the Bell County Museum…www.bellcountymuseum.org March 19…Discover Day with Charley Chisholm…www.bellcountymuseum.org March 19-20… Sami Show Marketplace…Bell County Expo Center […]

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