PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
ROY - THE FIRST FIVE YEARS AND THE BUYING OF TRIGGER.
Here's a good example of the "stories" and "confusion" that often
went together with the banner of "Roy Rogers and Trigger."
From the book "Roy Rogers" by Robert W. Phillips; concerning the
buying of the original Trigger.
Roy's version: In "Liberty," December 14, 1946, Roy is quoted as
saying he bought Trigger in 1937, on the installment plan
In an article by Roy, in "American Magazine," August 1949, he
states that he purchased Trigger for three hundred dollars, and
had to "do it on time" (installments).
Witney's version: After returning from the three-month tour
following the release of Under Western Stars (April 1938), Roy
went to Hudkins Stables to talk about buying Trigger. Witney
rltates that there was a hand-shake and a time payment plan for
Scripps-Howard News Service: A story reprinted in the "Roy
Rogers-Dale Evans Collectors Newsletter," 5, no. 30 (1986) men-
tions an installment plan with several hundred dollars dawn. In
"The Western Horseman," April 1961, Duane Valentry states that
$1000 was paid down and the remainder of $2500 was paid in
Randall's version: In an interview conducted by David Rothel,
Randall stated that this transaction meeting didn't take place un
until 1941, after a string of films had been made, In this
version Roy sent Randall to buy the horse, at the latter's
suggestions. Roy put up the money and Randall did the
According to numerous articles, Roy promised as part of the deal
that only Hudkins' horses would be used in his Republic films.
In "The Mountain Broadcast and Prairie Recorder," March 1946,
writer Frame Henderson states, "Roy raised Trigger from a colt,
and scrimped and saved to buy him, feed him and train him, when
in his early days with the Sons of the Pioneers, his earnings
were comparatively small."
Numerous published articles state that Roy used a guitar as part
or all of the down payment.
According to most sources, Roy didn't actually buy Trigger until
after his first feature film. This is credible from a strictly
economic point of view. He used a fancy, silver adorned,
tooled-leather saddle, a "Dick Dixon" model, or one similar to
it, in the film, bowever. One might wonder why he would own such
an expensive saddle, if he did not even own a horse and was
having trouble making ends meet and paying to handle fan mail.
Another version to the Trigger story was related by Ray "Crash"
Corrigan in the "Pontes article in "Westerns and Serials." The
description he gives applies to Little Trigger
and not the original Trigger, however.
In the film Under Western Stars, close observation of the close-
up running scenes reveal that there were at least two different
horses used for shots only seconds apart, one view from the
front, another view from the side.
All of these "version" of when Roy bought the original Trigger
ARE WRONG!! Even the ones where Roy is suposed to be quoted ARE
We know of NO ONE who was keeping a "diary" of such large events
in Roy's life. We know that Roy Rogers himself NEVER KEPT a
diary! He never noted down any of these large events in his life.
I would think that a man who loved the original Trigger as much
as Roy did, that he would have made sure he noted the VERY DAY
when Trigger was officially his, as when he finally bought him.
The TRUTH can now be known. The paper trail evidence has now been
found among all the "stuff" that Roy never threw out. The above
"stories" of buying Trigger, from various people, are from the
"memory" of man, which can get fuzzy, forgetful, and sometimes
just plainly "mixed up" at times, and be VERY WRONG!
So we shall now begin to unravel the truth of the matter.
Some have misunderstood, jumped to conclusions that Roy never
intended you to jump to, in the context he did not mean you to
understand what some have mistakenly come to understand, in
reading the "Happy Trails" biography of 1979. at times before
1979 Roy was obviously mixed up or very forgetful, as to when he
bought the original Trigger. This is going to take me a while. I
do want to be full on it all, and have it on record, for all
future fans of Roy and Trigger. Please be patient as I'll make
this in sections.
I first want to say, that there is no bigger fan out there on
Roy, Trigger, Dale, and the Pioneers than me. I was born in Wales
and saw my first Roy Rogers movie at age 7, in 1949 (so quick
math, I'm now 65 year old, but people think I'm about 50, kept
myself in good shape).
Seeing that first movie, and it was in color ... I was a Roy
Rogers fan from the opening scene of him and Trigger (and it was
THE Trigger). My little heart was just a pounding with joy
and excitement. Trigger .... I could not believe there was such a
magnificent animal, and so fast, like the wind. Trigger did not
do any tricks in that movie, and I did not even think about it,
just the beauty of him, and his speed, lovely white mane and tail
blowing in the wind as he raced across the wilderness ... that's
all I needed, I was in love with that horse. It was the start of
studying him, as the years went by I think I knew every hair on
his body. Roy ... well he was something else also, this good
looking guy, with a nice way of presenting himself on screen,
with this great smile, fine singing voice and some terrific horse
So now you know where I'm coming from, just ain't no bigger fan
of Roy and THE Trigger anywhere.
I'll begin with this. I'm an ordained minister, but now only part
time in the ministry. I say this for only one reason. In studying
for the ministry you develop an somewhat "technical" mind, got to
study NT Greek, haw Paul wrote, the analytical side of the
books of the Bible etc. etc. You learn that writers of the Bible
had their own particular way of writing, inspired of God yes, but
still with their own style. When you study Paul, he often wrote a
certain way. He would start on a thought, get explain, then in
explaining say something that triggered a thought, and down that
line of thought he would go for a while, then come back to the
original thought and expound on that some more.
In all this study I learned how people write, how books are often
written, certain styles of writing that are used, not only 2,000
years ago, but still used today. You have movies that "flash
back" in time, then come forward, then flash back to another
time, then back to the present and continue again.
So it is in the BIOGRAPHY of Roy and Dale called "HAPPY TRAILS"
published by Bantam Books, 1979. This is the one I have, so I
will be quoting from and using this edition.
Page 56, Roy is getting his new name by Republic Pictures. He's
been selected as the lead star in "Under Western Stars." There is
conversation with the executives of Republic and Roy (not Roy
until just this moment) - Roy agreeing he likes the name Roy
Rogers. This triggers a thought in his mind when this was being
written down, and he in the next sentence jumps ahead to 1942 and
tells us it was in 1942 that he went and got his name legally
changed to Roy Rogers. Then the next sentence he's back to
telling us about the publicity department of Republic getting out
some made up fancy "image" of this now new Roy Rogers star of
He tells us about all the things an actor is NOT supposed to do,
like forgetting lines etc. during the making of "Under Western
Stars," and the patience of Joe Kane, the director. He tells us
about the "on the road" public appearances and promoting of the
movie, all over the place, with the Pioneers and Pat Brady.
Page 58, we see that Roy is already married to Arlene, and with
her help they start answering all the fan mail coming in more and
more each day. Roy tells us that on the salary he was making he
could NOT even pay for the postage. Yakes at Republic would not
help him, told him he was foolish and to not worry about
answering fan mail. Roy would have none of it and arranged a
series of one-night appearances, using the money from them to
help defray his mailing expenses.
Did you catch it, did you just see what the FACT'S were? Roy,
could not on the salary he was getting (and it started at 75
dollars a week) EVEN PAY FOR THE POSTAGE to answer the fan mail.
And some of us have MISTAKENLY thought (because we've read it
wrong, in our minds, not the actual wards on paper - no untruth
in the words as I'll prove to you later) Roy BOUGHT TRIGGER when
he was making the movie "Under Western Stars" for TWO THOUSAND
AND FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS!!!
Oh, the sometimes silly mistakes we make in our minds, when we
are not careful enough to read all the other facts being told us.
THERE IS NO WAY Roy could have already BOUGHT Trigger when he
chose Trigger for the horse from Hudkins Stables, to have as his
horse in "Under Western Stars." The man could NOT AFFORD the
stamps to reply to his fan mail, a horse at 2,500 dollars was
looking at a gold mine, and you were getting $75 a week from
We often do not even think about how terribly expensive that
horse Trigger was to buy. Forget for now, the issue of WHEN did
Roy finally buy Trigger. I'll come to all of that. Think for now
about $2,500 in 1938.
I came to Canada at age 18, in 1961. I can remember in that first
year at least, I could buy a chocolate bar (say an Oh'Henry bar)
for FIVE CENTS ... Yes, I said 5 CENTS! What do you now pay
for this same bar in 2008? If not on sale, or you know the 3 for
a dollar thing, you pay $1.00 today for an Oh'Henry bar. THAT IS
20 TIMES MORE than in 1961 when I first arrived in Canada.
Do your simple math. $2,500 times 10 is 25 THOUSAND DOLLARS.
$2,500 times 20 is 50 THOUSAND DOLLARS!
I'm a part of the horse world. I have my registered Quarter horse
Golden Palomino - only 5 when I bought her - only "green broke" -
knew just about nothing (Trigger was more much than "green
broke" doing "Under Western Stars"). Horses like mine to buy are
$7 to $10 thousand dollars today. If the lady I bought her from
was working with the big movie world in Westerns (as Republic was
doing back in the 30s) - I can tell you I would not have got my
horse for any where near $10 thousnad dollars. That is the way
business is pardners, and that's the way it was back in the 30s.
$2,500 for Roy to have bought Trigger just before starting to
film Under Western Stars, would have been for Roy (who could not
afford the postage stamps for replies to his fan mail) like
trying to buy your favorite "pro sport team" today, the point
being, it was simply OUT OF THE QUESTION for Roy to have already
bought Trigger when filming "Under Western Stars."
AND ROY IN THIS "HAPPY TRAILS" biography book NEVER SAID he had
bought Trigger when filming "Under Western Stars!" We have
sometimes dotted our "i" and crossed out "t" and come up with
"sale" or "bought" from our own faulty "not reading correctly"
mind. Let me make this clear, and I will prove it shortly, ROY
NEVER WROTE ANYTHING TO SAY HE BOUGHT TRIGGER when making "Under
Western Stars." IN FACT I will now show you Roy said the VERY
OPPOSITE by what he wrote, we've too often just jumped the gun.
Roy in the "Happy Tails" book tells us more about the aftermath
of "Under Western Stars" and then GOES BACK on page 63 to tell us
about deciding on Trigger as his horse for the movie. See how
things can move back and forth in story telling.
Page 63, "It didn't take me too many personal appearances,
promoting the movies we were making, to learn one of the basic
Now it is MOVIES (with an "s") .... Roy had made. He goes on to
say how the likes of Tom Mix had his "Tony" and Gene Autry had
Now here it Is: "AND I WAS **RENTING'** Trigger at the time."
Roy goes on to tell us about the different companies that rented
horse to the movie places like Republic. He tells us how the best
horses, with the "BEST breeding, and the CLASSIEST markings
were leased to the benefit of the STAR of the picture" (page 64).
"They went back to the rental stable after the filming was
competed, so I was making tours with no horse trailer in tow. At
virtually every stop, people would ask, 'Where's your horse
cowboy?' We RENTED my Palomino from Hudkins, one of the stables
Republic did considerable business with. So I drove out there one
day and, after quite a bit of horse trading, bought him for
twenty-five hundred dollars" (page 64).
Roy DOES NOT in these pages or even the following pages, nowhere
in the book, are we told WHAT YEAR Roy bought Trigger. It was not
important to Roy, he probably did not even think about it, the
story, the fact that he did FINALLY buy Trigger, was all that
mattered, the fine details were not important. And we often
relate things to others just that way, you give the important
points and the details you do not go into, for they bear no
importance in relation to the main points.
It is true Roy did have the proof of the bill of sale, somewhere
in all his "stuff" but obviously he never made a search for it,
he may have even forgotten he had it, and so he only had his
memory to rely on, and as the years tick by, the memory can start
forgetting the details of things. Add to that all the horses Roy
always had around, the busy schedule of the pro entertaining life
and a large family to spend time with ... well things under those
circumstances can get a little "mixed up" here and there; and it
would see at times, Roy got the facts mixed up some, when
relating now and again to people via word of mouth or the pen,
the exact time, the year and month, he finally bought the
original Trigger. Today we do have the offcial selling document,
but that is for next time, to tell you in what recent book you
can see a reproduction of it.
Now I can fill you in with those fine details. I will prove it
all to you. I will fill in the general fine print so to speak,
FROM this book "Happy Trails" and from the official sold receipt
that Roy was given when he finally did buy Trigger.
It is not only filling in the blanks, but you will discover what
an amazing man was this Roy Rogers, in certain parts of his life.
What I'm going to piece together for you, will not just give the
truth of the matter, but will make you RESPECT and this man even
more, for what he put FIRST before ever buying Trigger. This man
was not perfect, he had his faults and made mistakes under the
glittering star of the phrase "Roy Rogers and Trigger" but he got
it right in doing what he did before buying Trigger.
To be continued