COWBOY KING MARRIES QUEEN OF THE WEST
He used his immense talent to encourage moral
and spiritual strength. Roy Rogers took the
best of America's most important icon, the Cowboy,
and created a code of honor for all. He was the most
important American entertainer in the
Michael Martin Murphy,
AS ONE MAN COMMENTED ON ROY'S DEATH; IF YOU TAKE ALL THE MOVIES, RADIO SHOWS, TV SERIES, TV APPEARANCES, RODIO SHOWS, THE MILLIONS OF FANS ALL AROUND THE WORLD, ROY ROGERS WAS THE GREATEST ENTERTAINER OF THE 20TH CENTURY -
Roy Rogers sat atop his chestnut-brown [WOW JUST SO WAY OFF - TRIGGER WAS A PALOMINO, THE COLOR OF MY HORSE GOLDI - SEE MY FACE BOOK - Keith Hunt] horse, Trigger, surveying the scene before him. His hand rested on his six-shooter, ready to draw on any villains planning an ambush. He'd spent the better part of the morning rustling up scoundrels who had been terrorizing local ranchers and townspeople. He would fire on any desperado—any bad guy lucky enough to have slipped by him who was now waiting behind a rock or bush hoping to waylay the cowboy.
Suddenly a tree branch snapped, and Roy whipped his famous steed around, his gun out of its holster and cocked. After a tense moment... a warm smile slowly filled his face. Dale Evans emerged from the brush on her horse. She eased up next to the cowboy hero, grinning from ear to ear.
"I thought you might have been one of the Monroe gang," he said.
"Sorry to disappoint you," she replied.
"Oh, I'm not disappointed," he concluded.
The two rode their mounts up a short incline. Although it was daytime, the trees covering the pass gave an effect of almost cathedral-like darkness. The sun filtered down through the leaves in gentle shifting patterns. Dale tenderly smiled over at Roy and sighed. The chemistry between the two was palpable.
In the near distance a director yelled "Cut!" and film crew members scurried about moving cameras and lights. Gabby Hayes meandered over to Roy and Dale as they dismounted their rides and discussed the scene. "That's the ticket," Gabby raved. "Audiences like a good romance."
Roy shrugged, looking unconvinced. "I'm not sure about this mushy stuff in a western," he confessed.
"What do you know?" Gabby kidded.
Dale and Roy exchanged a laughing glance. The pair respected Gabby's opinion but couldn't resist teasing him. Hayes was a former Shakespearean actor who, off screen, spoke eloquently. On camera his persona was that of a toothless, elderly curmudgeon. Out of the limelight Hayes was a well-dressed man who smoked a pipe and drove a black convertible. Over the years he had developed a lifelong friendship with the King of the Cowboys and his costar.
Both credited the skilled thespian with helping them hone the craft of acting.
After Dale rejoined the western team in 1947, she, Gabby, and Roy were together a great deal of the time. Their schedules included not only motion-picture work, but also personal appearances at auto races and grand openings, as well as hospital visits to children's wards.
It was the stops at medical centers and orphanages that gave the famous players the most pleasure. Roy and Dale would sing for the kids, and Roy would offer them an up-close-and-personal look at Trigger and the pearl-handled revolvers he used in his films. He marveled at the strength and courage of the sick children he reached out to. They left the ailing boys and girls smiling and their spirits filled. Dale admired Roy's compassion for those in need. Roy appreciated Dale's generous nature and love for children. It was the most precious attribute they shared, and the catalyst for a blossoming romance.
As time progressed, Roy and Dale's relationship graduated from a warm, abiding friendship to love. Their contrasting temperaments fit each other perfectly. They enjoyed working together and sharing their concerns about their families and career aspirations.
Over meals at the end of an exhausted workday, the tired pair would lose themselves in conversation. One particular evening Dale touched on a subject that had been weighing on her heart for some time. "Do you believe in Jesus Christ?" she asked
"No," was his answer.
Dale had still not made her faith a top priority. From the age of ten, she had wrestled with letting God be the ruler of her life. The impact he had made on her son's life prompted her to examine her relationship with the Lord. She had learned of the sacrifices he had made for her when she was a young girl attending Sunday school, and the thought of his dedication lingered in her mind. Somewhere in her heart she hoped Roy felt the same way.
His response to her question took her aback. "I can't say I do believe in Jesus," he reiterated firmly. "I've performed in too many children's hospitals," he went on. "If there is a God, I cannot understand how an innocent child can be born with a bad heart or crippled legs. I cannot understand the meaning of all those faces in orphanages. How can God let it happen?"
Dale was moved by the passionate way he spoke on the subject. It was obvious to her that he'd thought long and hard about this. His impressions had been shaped by the hurt he had seen and experienced for himself.
"If you can tell me why he lets children suffer, I'll go to church," he told her. Dale pondered his comments for a moment, searching for the right response, but nothing came. She was saddened by his feelings but didn't know enough about the Lord to counter his view. The pair agreed to table the discussion, unaware of just how much this theme would factor into their lives later on.
Im October 1947 Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, and the Sons of the Pioneers ended an eight-week, cross-country tour promoting the film Apache Rose, in Illinois. Their last appearance before heading back to the West Coast was at the Chicago Rodeo. The stadium was filled to overflowing with excited fans of every age. Roy and Dale sat on their horses waiting to be introduced. Their rides were anxious and restless, as though they sensed this program would be like none other in which the pair had performed.
The couple shifted their attention from concentrating on the rundown of the show to the lion and tiger act performing in the arena. Dale glanced over at Roy who seemed more nervous than usual. "I talked to the kids at home," he said.
"Everything okay?" Dale asked.
"Fine. They said to tell you hello." An awkward silence fell over the couple.
Roy shifted uncomfortably in his saddle. "They love you, Dale," he added. "And so do I "
Unable to speak for a moment, Dale watched him reach into his pocket and produce a small box. He lifted a beautiful gold ring out of it and asked her to hold out her finger. "What are you doing New Year's Eve?" he inquired.
Awestruck, Dale admitted she had no plans.
"Why don't we get married then?" he suggested.
A drum-roll sounded, and the lights in the arena dimmed. That was Roy's cue for him and Trigger to rush out of the chute and into the spotlight. The announcer introduced the singing cowboy, and he was off like a shot before Dale could answer his proposal.
The spirited entertainer spurred her horse into the arena at the appropriate time in the show. Music spilled out of the overhead speaker as Dale took her place beside Roy. The crowd cheered and applauded. Dale looked over at Roy, smiled, and nodded. The music swelled, and the twosome launched into song.
ACCORDING TO WHAT ROY AND DALE HAVE SAID THERE WAS NOTHING ABOUT A RING, AND WHEN DALE GOT UP TO ROY, SHE SAID YES TO HIS PROPOSAL - BUT THEN THINGS DO AT TIMES AND OVER TIME GET SLIGHTLY SCEWED - Keith Hunt
Before the announcement was made public, Dale insisted on discussing the idea of getting married with all of the children. Roy assured her that his young ones would accept her, but she wanted to be sure. Cheryl was seven and Linda was four when Dale and Roy told them they were thinking about getting married. They did not instantly respond, and Dale filled the pregnant pause with a question. "What would you like to call me if your father and I get married?"
Linda smiled approvingly and said, "We'll call you Dale." A loving embrace from the girls gave the soon-to-be bride the confidence she needed to begin making wedding plans.
Variety Magazine, along with KNNX radio, broke the news to the world in October that Roy and Dale were engaged. Disc jockeys repeated the date of the upcoming nuptials after each time they played Dale's new record—ironically titled, "Don't Ever Fall in Love with a Cowboy (He'll Love His Horse the Best)." For weeks leading up to the wedding, Roy and Dale were the subject of many newspaper columns and radio gossip shows.
Reporters speculated that Trigger would be the best man and that Dale's gown would be a red velvet cowgirl outfit.
As Roy and Dale made preparations for their big day and life thereafter, every move they made was reported on in industry magazines and newspapers. News that the couple had purchased a home in the Hollywood Hills appeared in Photoplay and Life. The articles were complete with pictures of their six-bedroom, six-bathroom house, once owned by fellow actor Noah Beery.
The spot Roy and Dale selected to be married at was the Flying L Ranch. Having recently completed filming Home in Oklahoma there, they felt the location was fitting. A number of journalists were on hand when the engaged pair arrived in Oklahoma City, near the site of the wedding, and bombarded them with questions about the ceremony. The curious lot wanted to know if Roy's fans would consider their hero a sissy for getting married and if their photographers could take a picture of the duo kissing. "We've never kissed in front of the movie cameras, so we're not going to start doing it for the papers, either," he told them. Newspapermen and newspaperwomen tagged along after the couple as they headed to the cattle farm, hoping to capture images of the simple country ceremony.
A furious storm had dumped mountains of snow on the six-thousand-acre ranch the morning of the New Year's Eve wedding. Family and friends staying at the homestead decorated the giant den where the vows would be exchanged. The bride and groom busied themselves getting ready and welcoming guests as they trudged in from the snowy landscape.
Moments before the ceremony was to begin, Roy was informed that the minister had not yet arrived. Deciding that the preacher might have lost his way in the blizzard or been forced off the road by ice, a search party was organized to look for the man. He arrived just as the group was heading out. After he took a few minutes to warm himself by the fire, the wedding began.
A string quartet launched into the traditional march. Roy waited at the altar with Art Rush beside him as his best man. The music played on and on, but Dale did not come down the aisle. The bride could be found in her room on her knees, praying. The severity of the situation had suddenly washed over her, and doubt held her captive. Am I doing the right thing? she asked herself. With two unsuccessful marriages behind me, is it right to try again? Is it right for Roy? For his children?
Feeling more alone than she ever had, she cried out to God. "You know who I am and what I am, Lord. You know the great responsibility I'm taking on marrying this man with three mother-less children. Please help me be a good mother to Arline's children. Give me the courage and the understanding to establish a Christian home for them, a home like the one you gave me as a child."
She sat quiet for a time, letting the words of her prayer sink in. Moments later a deep sense of peace filled her heart. She knew God had heard her, and she knew she was ready to meet Roy at the altar.
Downstairs, the quartet had stopped playing the wedding march and were serenading the wondering guests with "I Love You Truly." Dale and her matron of honor proceeded down the aisle. When she saw that Roy was not waiting for her on the other end, she nervously scanned the room looking for him. Five minutes passed, and Dale was still waiting for Roy. Heads turned from the door to the bride. Finally, Roy and Art appeared, smoothing down their clothes and hair. Both were out of breath and smelled of smoke.
It wasn't until after the "I dos" were said and the reverend pronounced them married that Dale learned what had kept Roy. A cigarette butt, tossed in a wastebasket in the living room, had started a fire and engulfed the curtains. Roy and Art had raced in to put the blaze out and make sure the home was safe from any stray embers. Art summed up the day's activities best when he said, "What a way to start a wedding."
The Rogerses spent part of their first night as husband and wife sorting through cards and gifts from well-wishers across the country. The majority of notes expressed the hope fans had for the couple's long life and marriage. But there were a few letters from brokenhearted young women who had held out hope that they could one day marry the singing cowboy.
The handful of dismayed fans weren't the only ones who had misgivings about Roy and Dale's union. "Our marriage is going to have an effect on the studio, too," Dale told Roy.
He took his wife's hand in his and smiled. "A lot of people will try to tell us what to do."
The couple watched the snow fade from the horizon and give way to the sun. They began their first full day of their fifty-two years together on January 1st 1948.
VERY STRANGE HOW THINGS GET OUT OF CORRECT NUMBERS; ROY IN HIS LATER LIFE GOT TRIGGER'S AGE WRONG, HE WOULD SAY TRIGGER LIVED TO BE 33, BUT THE TRUTH IS TRIGGER LIVED TO BE ONE DAY SHY OF 31 YEARS. HERE THE AUTHORS IT SEEMS COULD NOT ADD UP CORRECTLY. ROY DIED IN JULY OF 1998 - WHICH MAKES THEIR MARRIAGE 50 AND 1/2 YEARS IN LENGTH. IT WAS DALE WHO DIED TWO YEARS LATER - Keith Hunt