From the book "An Illustrated History of TRIGGER" by Leo Pando
Trigger Time Line
Only a few key films are included in this chronology.
1934: A palomino colt is born in San Ysidro, California on a
ranch partially owned by Bing Crosby and managed by horse breeder
Roy Cloud. The colt is named the Golden Cloud. 1936: The Golden
Cloud started under saddle.
1937: The Golden Cloud is registered with the Palomino Horse
Association. Although there is no documentation of a sale, it's
during these years that the Golden Cloud was most likely acquired
by Hudkins Stables. The stock farm in San Diego where the Golden
Cloud was born is purchased by Ace Hudkins of North Hollywood.
Little Trigger may have been born in this year, though again
there is no documentation to prove it.
1938: The Golden Cloud is ridden by actresses Priscilla Lane in
"Cowboy from Brooklyn" and Olivia De Havilland in "The Adventures
of Robin Hood." Under Western Stars marks the first B-western
movie appearance by Roy Rogers and the Golden Cloud, whose name
is changed to Trigger. The first fictional account of how Rogers
came to own Trigger is told at the beginning of "Come On,
1939: Trigger is ridden by actor Gilbert Roland in the film
"Juarez." Roy Rogers hires horse trainer Jimmy Griffin.
1940: Roy Rogers acquires another palomino, Little Trigger, to
use in personal appearances. Rogers appears without Trigger in
supporting role to John Wayne in the movie "Dark Command."
1941: According to writer David Rothel, trainer Glenn Randall
claimed to have started working with "Trigger," replacing Jimmy
Griffin. Trigger Jr. (registered name Allen's Gold Zephyr) is
born May 11; his owner is Paul K. Fisher of Souderton,
Pennsylvania. Buttermilk, Dale Evans' horse, is born.
1942: Roy Rogers and "Trigger" debut at the 17th annual Madison
Square Garden Rodeo in October. During the show's run,
"Trigger's" birthday is celebrated. Trigger is ridden by Victor
Jory in "Shut My Big Mouth." Trigger appears in the Charles
Starrett movie "Bad Men of the Hills" as Russell Hayden's horse.
1943: Trigger is ridden by Russell Hayden in "Silver City
Raiders." The original Trigger is purchased by Roy Rogers from
the Hudkins Brothers with a final payment completing the total
purchase price of $2,500. The Hudkins Stables Bill of Sale is
dated September 18. By this time Rogers has made 40 movies with
the palomino. Roy Rogers and Little Trigger appear on the cover
of Life magazine. "Hands Across the Border" is released. It's
the first movie story where "Trigger" is central to the plot, and
the second fictional version of how Rogers met and came to own
him. "Trigger" first gets screen credit and is billed as "the
Smartest Horse in the Movies" for the first time in "Silver
Spurs." Little Trigger debuts in "Song of Texas."
1944: Roy Rogers and Trigger make their debut in "Four-Color
Comics" (April). Roy Rogers and Little Trigger appear in
"Hollywood Canteen." "Lights of Old Santa Fe" is released, and
"Trigger" drives the plot to a large degree. In the film, he is
part of a package deal with Rogers that's being fought over by
two rival rodeos. Rogers rides "Trigger" on a war bond drive on
the Paul Revere trail from Boston to Concord, Massachusetts.
1946: "My Pal Trigger" is released, the definitive fictional
account of "Trigger's" beginnings. According to Screen Guide
magazine (October) Trigger is valued at $20,000.
1947: During a rodeo appearance at Chicago Stadium Roy Rogers
Roy Rogers and Dale Evans accept a trophy during a personal
appearance as the ever handsome Trigger looks on (Roy Dillow
collection) (Not reproduced here - Keith Hunt)
proposes to Dale Evans (riding Pal) while waiting to make their
arena entrance. (This story is disputed by some who believe that
Rogers probably proposed over breakfast.)
(Well it's the story Roy and Dale stuck to to their dying day -
1948: "Roy Rogers Comics" makes its first appearance on news-
stands in January. "Trigger," of course, is part of the cast of
characters. "Under California Stars" is released in Trucolor.
The plot centers around the kidnapping of "Trigger." Rogers buys
the Hitching Post Theatre in Beverly Hills. He and Little Trigger
place their footprints in cement.
1949: In April 21, Roy Rogers and the original Trigger place
their prints in cement at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
Dale Evans, Pat Brady, the Riders of the Purple Sage, Eddie Dean
(master of ceremonies), and Hoot Gibson are in attendance. "The
Golden Stallio" is released in Trucolor. Rogers and Trigger
appear on the cover of Western Horseman magazine in December. The
lead feature is titled, "Trigger: First Get A Good Horse." In
December, King Features begins syndicating the Roy Rogers comic
strip featuring Trigger to newspapers all across America. The
Palomino Horse by Doreen M. Norton is published. Trigger is
referred to as "the best known Palomino in America." Trigger's
canine pal Bullet, a German shepherd, is born.
1950: "Trigger, Jr." is released in Trucolor. Trigger Tricks, a
weekly television show, is proposed. The series is intended to
showcase all of his famous rodeo and personal appearance stunts.
Buttermilk first appears in "Twilight in the Sierras" ridden by
1951: "Pals of the Golden West" is released and marks the last
movie appearance by the original Trigger. "The Roy Rogers Show"
premieres along with a 30-minute special that promos both the
television show and the Son of Paleface movie with Bob Hope. Roy
Rogers' Trigger Comics makes its debut in the Dell Four-Color
series (May) and reportedly accounts for earnings of $10,000.
The third Roy Rogers' Trigger Comics (December) appears, sporting
a cover by renowned equine illustrator Sam Savitt. Businessman
John Fergeson offers Roy Rogers $200,000 for Trigger in the fall
(Open Road magazine 1952). Roy Rogers pays $50,000 for a
ruby-studded Crown jewel saddle originally created by Edward H.
Bohlin (Hollywood's foremost saddle maker and silversmith) for
Mrs. H.L.Musick, a millionaire sportswoman of Los Angeles.
1952: In Los Angeles, actress Mabel Smeyne (aka Mabee Smaney)
files a lawsuit against Roy Rogers Enterprises. She alleges that
Rogers and others recklessly failed to control "Trigger" on the
movie set of Son of Paleface, allowing him to kick her. The trial
does not begin till October of 1954. The jury renders a verdict
in favor of Rogers and "Trigger."
1953: Little Trigger is among the guests who surprise Roy Rogers
on the television show "This Is Your Life." "Trigger" wins a
Patsy award (animal equivalent for the Oscar) for his role in
"Son of Paleface."
1955: Roy Rogers Comics becomes Roy Rogers and Trigger Comics in
August. The last issue of Roy Rogers' Trigger Comics (#17) is
published. Two biographies on Roy Rogers are published: "The
Answer Is God" by Elise Miller Davis and "Roy Rogers: King of the
Cowboys" by Frank Rasky. Both discuss "Trigger."
1957: The last of The Roy Rogers Show television episodes are
completed. These half-hour black and white programs are the last
filmed appearances of the original Trigger. The original Trigger
is retired at age 25 to the Rogers' ranch in Chatsworth,
1958: Roy and "Trigger" receive the Richard Craven Award from the
American Humane Society. The award is presented annually for
outstanding feats performed by animals before a live audience.
1960: From 1958 to 1960 Roy Rogers and Dale Evans appeared in
fourteen NBC variety shows sponsored by Chevrolet called "The
Chevy Show." It is during one of these broadcasts that Trigger
was officially retired.
1963: Trigger is moved, with the Rogers family, to Hidden Valley,
1965: Trigger dies on July 3 at age thirty-one. Rogers decides to
have him mounted by Bischoff's Taxidermy and Studio Prop Rental
in Burbank, California. Rogers contacts Fiber Glass Menagerie of
Alpine, Colorado, to make a larger-than-life fiberglass likeness
(23 and 1/2 feet tall) of his equine co-star.
1966: Bischoff's Taxidermy completes work on Trigger, and the
horse is put on display in Roy Rogers' home.
1967: The first Roy Rogers museum is built in Apple Valley.
Trigger is put on display. The fiberglass rearing Trigger statue
is placed at the entrance. "Movie Horses: Their Treatment and
Training" by Anthony Amaral is published; it includes a chapter
1969: Trigger Jr. dies at the age of 28.
1972: Buttermilk dies at age 31.
1976: The new museum, renamed the "Roy Rogers and Dale Evans
Museum," is completed in Victorville, California. The "It's
Showtime" movie documentary appears showcasing "Trigger" and a
number of other Hollywood animal celebrities.
1979: "Happy Trails: The Story of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans," by
Roy Rogers with Carlton Stowers, is published. It includes a
chapter on "Trigger."
1980: "The Great Show Business Animals" by Dave Rothel is
published, including a chapter on Trigger.
1984: The "Trigger" character makes a final appearance on
television in an episode of "The Fall Guy."
1987: "The Roy Rogers Book" by David Rothel is published with
comments on Trigger by Roy Rogers.
1989: "Trigger Remembered," a booklet by director William Witney,
is published. It mentions Little Trigger publicly for the first
1990: The last appearance on television of Roy Rogers riding a
palomino happens on the Randy Travis: Happy Trails television
special broadcast on TNN. The horse is never referred to as
1993: In October Roy Rogers auctions the last of his horses,
which includes grandsons and granddaughters of Trigger Jr.
Trigger's trainer, Glenn Randall, passes away on May 5. 1995:
"Roy Rogers" by Robert W Phillips is published. It's the first
serious and detailed study of Trigger and his doubles. Phillips
follows up with essays in "The Southwest Horse Trader"
("Trigger-Known Around the World," parts one and two) and The
Western Horse ("Trigger: the Smartest Horse in the World").
1996: Oaktree Express publishes "The Legend of 'Trigger,' the
Smartest Horse in the Movies," another serious essay by Robert W
Phillips on Trigger.
1998: Roy Rogers, Trigger's owner, partner, and best friend, dies
on July 6. Joe Yrigoyen, Roy Rogers' longtime stunt double and a
man who rode the original Trigger and a number of Trigger
1999: B-western cowboys are honored during the Academy Awards
show in March. Actor Val Kilmer leads a grandson of Trigger Jr.
on stage as a tribute to Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and their cowboy
2000: George Coan's newsletter "The Old Cowboy Picture Show"
(volume 4, number 12) devotes an entire issue to "Trigger," with
updated and comprehensive work by Robert W Phillips and Leo
2001: Dale Evans dies on February 7. Estate taxes become a
problem between the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum and the IRS.
The original mounted Trigger is valued at $400,000. The first
estate sale is held from March 31 to April 1 at the Roy Rogers
and Dale Evans Museum; many Trigger items go on the auction
block. "Silent Hoofbeats" by Bobby J. Copeland is published. It
includes a section on Trigger.
2002: The Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum announces that it will
close and relocate to Branson, Missouri. The History Channel
program America's Lost and Found presents a ten-minute segment on
"Trigger." "The Encyclopedia of TV Pets" by Ken Beck and Jim
Clark is published. It includes a section on Trigger and mentions
2003: The grand opening of the new 26,000-square-foot "Roy Rogers
and Dale Evans Museum and Happy Trails Theater" is set for
Memorial Day weekend, May 24, with the original mounted Trigger
as the centerpiece. Trigger places 32nd on an Animal Planet
two-hour cable television show titled "50 Greatest Movie
Animals." "Cowboy Princess" by Cheryl Rogers-Barnett and Frank
Thompson is published. It includes a chapter on Trigger and
2005: "Hollywood Hoofbeats" by Petrine Day Mitchum and Audry
Pavia is published. It includes a section on Trigger and an
acknowledgment of Little Trigger.
2006: The mounted Trigger is featured in a Santa Monica Press
book titled "The Ruby Slippers, Madonna's Bra, and Einstein's
Brain: The Locations of America's Pop Culture Artifacts" by Chris