Name at birth: Orvon Gene AutryGene Autry was a singing cowboy star of radio, television and the movies and one of the top box office stars of the 1940s. He began his show business career in 1928, singing on a local radio station. Within three years he had his own show and a hit record, "That Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine." Autry made his first film appearance in 1934 (In Old Santa Fe), and his first starring role in 1935 (Tumblin' Tumbleweeds); he went on to make more than 90 feature films, and between 1938 and 1942 he was one of the top ten stars in Hollywood. His westerns featured lots of action, not too much romance and a healthy dose of good manners. During World War II Gene Autry flew cargo planes for Air Transport Command (1942-45) and toured with the U.S.O. (1945-46). He went back to Hollywood in 1946, where he continued his radio show (Gene Autry's Melody Ranch) and got into the television business as a producer and star. A savvy businessman as well as a media star, Autry became a rich man. He bought the major league baseball franchise the California Angels in 1961 and was an involved owner, until selling his interest to the Walt Disney Company in 1997. During his career Autry wrote hundreds of songs, including the country hits "South of the Border" and "Back in the Saddle," and the holiday songs "Peter Cottontail" and "Here Comes Santa Clause." Autry also recorded one of the best-selling singles of all time, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Gene Autry’s horse was named Champion… It’s said Autry was encouraged to go into show business by Will Rogers… While Autry was away flying planes during the war, Roy Rogers took over as Hollywood’s top singing cowboy… Some sources say his birth name was Orvon Grover Autry, but the Autry Center says it was Orvon Gene Autry… Gene’s sidekicks in his movies were Smiley Burnett and Pat Buttram.