He was billed as “King of the Cowboys,” but here’s a look at Roy Rogers off the set. And look at the background. It gives you a sense of what Hollywood looked like back then.

John Wayne once badmouthed Rogers, saying he wasn’t a “real” cowboy.   Then again, Wayne wasn’t a real soldier — he never served in the military.

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio on Nov. 5, 1911, the former Leonard Franklin Slye became Roy Rogers, and then became King of the Cowboys and even King of the West.

He is perhaps the most prominent and durable cowpoke in movie history — totally encapsulated by his cowboy roles. That’s all Rogers did.

He was strictly a genial, sometimes singing but always straight-shooting cowboy who starred in nearly 120 movies and tv vehicles spanning nearly a half century. He certainly ranks right up there with the likes of Tom Mix, Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy (aka William Boyd), Ken Maynard, Lash LaRue and Don “Red” Barry.

Take a close look at the photo of Rogers above. It’s never been seen before.

That’s because it is part of our exclusive Donald Gordon Collection of private snapshots taken in Forties Hollywood by our late palwho at the time was serving a kind of junior-actor-in-residence at Columbia Pictures.

Supporting Rogers throughout much of his career was his faithful horse Trigger, who appeared in all Roy’s pictures from 1938 until 1965, when the steed died at the ripe age of 33.  Also often on hand were grizzled character actor George “Gabby” Hayes and, most importantly, Dale Evans.

She and Roy began in 1947 their lengthy marriage, which ended in 1998 when Roy was felled by congestive heart problems. Dale was his third wife.

Rogers is remembered today more for the chain of restaurants that he lent his name to rather than the body of his film work. But thanks to the wonderful Donald Gordon photo collection, we get a chance to see the relaxed and rather handsome cowboy at his period Hollywood leisure.

NOTE: Speaking of yesterday’s photo subjects, the good-looking threesome shown in yesterday’s blog are Dean Martin (left), Shirley MacLaine and, of course, Elvis (in uniform).  All were professionally connected one way or another to producer Hal Wallis. The birthday (we think) was Dean’s.

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