How much did you know about our man Gene Autry?

Undoubtedly you knew something about his exploits as a singing cowboy. But did you know that after Gene hung up his movie and tv spurs in the 1960’s, he proceeded to became one of the richest businessmen ever to come out of show business?

Autry amassed extensive holdings in real estate, radio and tv stations and ownership of the (now) Los Angeles Angels baseball team. He became became a tv station tycoon as majority and chairman-president of Golden West Broadcasters, a West Coast group whose flagship station was KTLA-TV in Los Angeles.

His simpler days as “the singing cowboy” are commemorated at the Gene Autrey Oklahoma Museum in the tiny town of — what else? — Gene Autry, Oklahoma. There’s also an Autry Center of the American West in Los Angeles.

Ok, on to the answers to our Gene Autry Quiz. Here we go:

1) Question: What would a movie cowboy star be without his favorite horse? Which of the following was Autry’s? a) Tony; b) Topper; c) Scout; or d) Champion.

1) Answer: d) Autry’s signature horse was Champion, “the Wonder Horse.” He was Gene’s steady companion through some 80 movies from 1935 to 1952, and many tv shows in the Fifties. Champion became so popular he got a tube show of his own, The Adventures of Champion. In fact three ‘official’ horses playing Champion over the years, plus an occasional fill-in steed.

2) Question: After his retirement from movies and tv, Autry became an extraordinarily wealthy businessman with extensive holdings in real estate, broadcasting and in professional baseball.  Which team did he own?  a) The Dodgers, b) The Devil Rays; c) The Angels; or d) The Diamondbacks.

2) Answer:  As mentioned above, Autry bought the then Anaheim Angels, which later became the Los Angles Angles.

3) Question: Which of the following characters actors did NOT appear in various Autry movies? a) Frankie Darro; b) Francis X. Bushman; c) Alan Hale Jr.; or d) Sterling Holloway. 

3) Answer:  Ok, we admit it.  This is one of our patented trick questions.  Credit will be received all around.  ALL four character actors appeared in various Autry movies.

4) Question: Can you identify this Autry picture which was actually nominated for an Oscar? What was the title of the picture, and what was it nominated for? (Given that Autry appeared in dozens of pictures, this may be a hard one.  Hints: the picture came out in the early 1940’s and its title refers to a phenomenon extolled in a famous Judy Garland song.)

4) Answer: 1941’s Ridin’ On A Rainbow, which was nominated in the best original song category for “Be Honest With Me.”

5) Question: Autry and Roy Rogers were immensely popular cowboy stars, but they didn’t particularly like or trust one another.  a) True; b) False.

5) Answer: a) True. Autry and Rogers were close contemporaries — Gene born in 1907 and Roy four years later.  Also, Rogers’ movie career began a year after Autry’s.  And like Gene, Roy made his debut as a singer — a member of the Sons of the Pioneers vocal group.  And, finally, both Autry and Roger died in the same year, 1998; Gene was 91, Roy was 86. But although friendly, the two singing cowboys were rivals. When Autry joined the military in World War II, Republic Pictures promoted Roy as the new “King of the Cowboys,” infuriating Gene, who vowed to (and did) depart from the studio.  Let’s say both of these “kings” kept careful watch on the other.

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