From the book "An Illustrated History of TRIGGER" by Leo Pando
A Dictionary of Trigger Trivia
Dusty Rogers has claimed that "Trigger" once fell through a stage
during a performance. "Yes, one time when Dad, Dale and Trigger
were in England, Roy and Trigger were performin' their act on a
big stage, and the stage collapsed! Trigger fell down through the
stage. Everyone rushed over to get to Trigger and get him out.
When they got him out on a solid surface, he scrambled to his
feet without bein' hurt; just displayin' a few minor scratches
here and there. It could have been a lot worse!"
In a 1952 article called "A Slice of My Life" (published in a
magazine called Who's Who in Western Stars) Rogers wrote about
things that happened in his life that year. According to the
article, he and Trigger were rehearsing a scene for the TV show
on the set of Mineral City on August 11, 1952. A blustery wind
was throwing dust in everyone's face and making the other horses
nervous. Rogers tied Trigger behind a portable wall that was made
to be moved from set to set. Rogers said that he hadn't taken 20
steps when a gust of wind blew the wall over on Trigger's back,
knocking him to the ground. Naturally, everyone ran to help the
horse. Rogers said that Trigger got up shaking his head,
something that he would do when he was mad for whatever reason.
Rogers ran his hands over Trigger's hide, looking for breaks or
cuts. A vet checked the horse, too, and gave him a clean bill of
health - though all agreed his disposition had suffered
temporarily. That was a small price to pay considering that the
wall could have killed or seriously injured Trigger.
Another accident was reported in Frank Rasky's biography "Roy
Rogers: King of the Cowboys." Rogers was driving to a movie
location in Lone Pine, California. The trailer he was hauling
Trigger in broke away from his car and turned over down a
hillside bank. The trailer ended up on its side. Trigger was
unharmed. Rogers seemed more shaken up than his horse.
The Adelphi Hotel:
While on tour in Great Britain in March of 1954, Roy Rogers and
Dale Evans came down with influenza and ended up secluded in the
Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool. Some 4,000 fans crowded Lime Street
outside and kept up the chant, "We want Roy Rogers." A publicity
stunt had been planned for Rogers and "Trigger" to make a grand
entrance from the mezzanine floor to the main lounge. As that
opportunity was lost, it was decided to have Little Trigger
deliver a bouquet of flowers to Rogers and Evans as they lay in
Little Trigger reared up, took a bow or two outside the Adelphi
Hotel and entered, becoming the first horse to set a hoof inside.
The palomino took more bows from a first floor window as hundreds
of fans watched. He also made his mark at the registration desk
with a pencil clutched between his teeth, something he'd done
before in Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Birmingham. Little Trigger
climbed upstairs till he made it into his lady's and master's
chamber and delivered his flowers. Followed by an entourage of
guests, young admirers, and reporters, the palomino finally went
into the residents' lounge for a very unique press reception.
In Woody Allen's Oscar-winning comedy "Annie Hall" (United
Artists, 1977) the comedian delivers a retort to musician Paul
Simon, who plays a Hollywood record producer. As Simon shows off
his Beverly Hills mansion to Allen and actress Diane Keaton (the
title character), he tells them that the previous owners were
singer Nelson Eddie and gangster Legs Diamond. The quintessential
New Yorker, Allen sarcastically added another celebrity to the
American Humane Association:
The AHA presented a Trigger with a special award to honor his
Silver Anniversary in show business.
Band of Brothers:
In the HBO World War II television mini-series Band of Brothers,
the GI's named their German shepherd mascot "Trigger."
Trigger was fed a flake of the choicest fifty-five-dollar-a-ton
hay each morning. Twice a day he got specially prepared grain (a
blend of bran, corn, and mineral salt).
Dr.Charles Reid, a Hollywood veterinarian, checked Rogers' remuda
of palominos' health at least three times a year. They were
wormed regularly and had their teeth examined periodically.
Frank Carrol, a San Fernando Valley blacksmith, shoed Trigger
every six weeks. When Trigger was performing on a smooth concrete
surface, he wore iron shoes. On the waxed floors of theater
stages, rubber shoes were used for safety.
Craven, Richard, Award:
In 1958 Roy Rogers and Trigger received the Richard Craven Award
from the American Humane Society. The award was presented
annually for outstanding feats performed by animals before a live
audience in theatre, rodeo, or other live entertainment venues
(television and film feats were not eligible).
The last CSI show of the 2005 season, titled "Grave Danger,"
included a scene where agent Sara Sidle (Jorja Fox) walks into
the office of Gil Grissom (William Peterson), picks up something
framed on his desk and asks, "What's this?" He explains that it's
an honorary certificate of ownership for Trigger that children
used to get when they wrote to Roy Rogers. He had one as a child
and lost it. He found one at the Roy Rogers Museum that used to
be in California but is now in Branson, Missouri. Grissom talks
for quite some time about Roy Rogers, Trigger, and the recent
move. Sara asks, "Roy Rogers the cowboy?" Grissom says that would
be "Roy Rogers, King of the Cowboys!" She looks at him funny and
says, "You framed it?" The look on his face seems to say, "What's
so unusual about that?" She sets the certificate down and they
continue with the show. The episode was directed by Roy Rogers
fan Quentin Tarantino.
Trigger had his own fan club and received an enormous amount of
mail. Doreen M. Norton, in her book "The Palomino Horse," wrote,
"Trigger is a motion picture star in his own right. He gets an
average of two hundred fan letters a month, addressed to him!"
Responses to fan letters sent to "Trigger" were answered on paper
autographed with a hoof print.
Said Norton, "When a boy in Liverpool, England, wrote a letter,
addressed simply, 'Trigger,' it was delivered to Roy Rogers."
Ferguson, J.B.: Roy Rogers had been booked for twelve days at the
Houston Fat Stock Show when he received a telegram from wealthy
Texas oilman J.B. Ferguson, who already owned an impressive
stable of Thoroughbreds and quarter horses. Ferguson offered
Rogers $200,000 for Trigger. Ferguson indicated that he wished to
buy Trigger as a birthday gift for his son. Rogers had received
numerous offers to buy Trigger in past years but never considered
them. He didn't get around to answering the telegram and
continued on tour. At the same time, the story broke in the
Houston paper. The paper quoted Ferguson as being deadly serious
and furthermore gave the impression that Rogers, too, was
seriously considering the offer. By then the original Trigger was
almost nineteen and Trigger Jr. had already been acquired.
When Rogers arrived in Texas, hundreds of children greeted his
train. They were all concerned over the possibility that he might
sell Trigger. When Rogers reached the Samrock Hotel where he was
staying, there were stacks of telegrams and telephone messages
urging him not to consider Ferguson's offer.
The story took on a momentum of its own and continued under its
own power even after Rogers tried to make it clear that Trigger
was not for sale at any price. Rumors started circulating that
Rogers was in such a financial bind that it was necessary to sell
his beloved palomino. Back in California, letters were arriving
from kids all over the country who'd broken their piggy banks and
sent pennies, nickels, and dimes to the King of the Cowboys
hoping to provide the needed financial assistance.
Rogers was finally able to put the issue to rest by calling a
giant press conference at the Samrock Hotel. Ferguson was also on
hand. Rogers thanked him for his offer but told him he would not
sell Trigger for all the money in Texas. After the crisis passed,
secretaries back in California were faced with the task of
returning money to thousands of loyal Trigger fans.
It's been rumored that Ferguson loaned Rogers a sorrel which he
bred with Trigger at his Valley Ranch, the foal going to Ferguson
as a consolation. Nevertheless, as noted earlier, Rogers stated
definitively that Trigger was never bred.
Grauman's Chinese Theatre:
The original Trigger was one of a rare few animals who was
immortalized at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood,
California. Trigger and Roy Rogers were honored in 1949. Sid
Grauman was the host. Gene Autry's Champion, Tom Mix's Tony and
Lassie were some of the other four-legged stars who had been
honored. Little Trigger placed his hoof prints in cement at the
Hitching Post Theater in Los Angeles.
In the documentary "Roy Rogers King of the Cowboys," William
Witney spoke of an incident that almost injured Trigger. While
filming a running insert, Rogers and Trigger were alongside a
truck loaded with camera equipment and a crew. As they reached a
full gallop, a large reflector that hadn't been secured fell off.
It landed right in front of Trigger, who managed to jump over it.
Luckily, Rogers was able to stay with him. Witney stopped the
scene, dreading what he would find. Rogers had already dismounted
and was checking Trigger's legs. The horse was fine.
Trigger's appearance in the 1938 Warner Bros. color film "The
Adventures of Robin Hood" is common knowledge, so much so that it
was once a question on the ABC network game show Jeopardy. On
another episode of Jeopardy (January 10, 2007), the category
"Hollywood Rides" offered the answer "Nellybelle, Buttermilk,
Trigger" to provoke the question, "What was The Roy Rogers Show?"
According to Cheryl Rogers-Barnett, the original Trigger liked
mayonnaise sandwiches and Coca-Cola. She described Trigger as
being like a goat when it came to eating habits: he would eat
anything. He even shared coffee with Roy Rogers on occasion.
The original Trigger set his hoof prints in cement at Grauman's
Chinese Theatre in Hollywood on April 21, 1949. Dale Evans, Glenn
Randall (squatting), and the Riders of the Purple Sage were among
those in attendance. Note the expressions of joy and pride on Roy
Rogers' face (Roy Dillow collection). (Not reproduced here -
Like B.B. King's guitar Lucille, country legend Willie Nelson's
old Martin N-20 acoustic is very well known. It's been signed by
some of Nelson's musician friends, and the front is so worn that
it has an extra hole next to the actual sound hole. Nelson named
the instrument "Trigger Jr." A 13 x 17 poster of the guitar was
issued by Martin Guitar captioned "This Is My Guitar - on naming
his model n-20 'Trigger'"
Only Fools and Horses:
According to the web source Wikipedia, Trigger, a character in
a British sitcom titled "Only Fools and Horses," is named after
Roy Rogers' palomino because the actor, Roger Lloyd Pack, looks
like a horse.
Pioneer Town Race:
Western character actor Dick Curtis opened a ranch used as a
Western movie location and tourist trap. The American Movie
Classics network has, from time to time, run a short filler on
this ranch, called Pioneer Town. The AMC short features early
color footage of Dale Evans on Trigger in a mini-parade; Roy
Rogers and his daughter on Little Trigger; and brief footage of
Roy Rogers on Trigger racing a group of ranch hands.
On one occasion a group of local cowboys were at Pioneer Town
with their horses. They decided to confront Rogers and the
original Trigger and challenged them to a race. Rogers politely
told them Trigger was not a race horse, but a schooled picture
horse. Not satisfied, they heckled the King of the Cowboys to the
point where their remarks got a little personal and nasty towards
Trigger. Rogers could tolerate unkind remarks towards himself but
not towards his horse. When he'd had enough, he pulled out a wad
of greenbacks, placed them on the ground, covered them with a
rock and said, "Cover it (meaning the total amount of the money)
and you've got a race for a quarter mile." The cowboys managed to
cover Rogers' bet and the race was on. After a quarter mile
course was laid out on main street in Pioneer Town, the cowboys
saddled up and approached the starting line. Roger joined them
and sat calmly on Trigger, studying his opponents and their
mounts. All were riding quarter horses, and Rogers was pretty
sure some had run professionally. Without giving much of a
thought to backing out, Rogers soon found himself and Trigger in
the middle of the pack, surrounded on both sides. He leaned
forward and hissed in Trigger's ear as he'd done often in running
inserts when he needed a little more speed. Trigger went into
third gear, laid his ears back and jolted forward. Trigger loved
competition and wasn't about to lose. After winning, Rogers
returned to the finish line and picked up his winnings. With a
little grin he looked at his competitors and said, "Thanks
fellows. Trigger and I'll oblige anytime."
Reportedly a similar incident occurred on the set of "My Pal
Trigger." Republic had hired professional jockeys for the race
scene at the end of the movie, and they, too, wanted to find out
if Trigger was as fast as claimed. The outcome was the same as
that of the Pioneer Town Race.
I JUST LOVE THOSE TWO STORIES - JUST LOVE THEM!! As a kid
watching Trigger run in movies, I just knew he was FAST!! Fast
like my godlen Palomino "Goldie" (registered name is "Final
Touch" - she's the final touch for sure in my life) is FAST -
like a bullet, when I say, "let's go girl, let's fly" - Keith
In the 1980s Rogers donated horses to the mounted police patrols
of Boston, New York City, and Philadelphia. "Trigger" was the
name he suggested for each animal.
In May of 2002 The Old Cowboy Picture Show newsletter (volume 6,
number 5) conducted a reader's poll. As with a real general
election, only about a quarter of those eligible participated,
but the results were a good representation of fan preferences as
the readers were serious and knowledgeable.
Trigger won easily for best horse. He not only dominated as the
favorite horse, but received more votes than any other category
winner. Only bad guy Roy Barcroft came close to Trigger in
overall votes. Another palomino, Ken Maynard's wonder horse
Tarzan, came in a very distant second. Gene Autry's four
"Champions" were third.
Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus:
Where's Trigger when you need him? Roy Rogers and Dale Evans
hosted the 1966 edition of Ringling Brothers and Barnum and
Bailey Circus. Apparently the King of the Cowboys was loaned a
horse for the occasion. Reminisce Magazine reported on that
occasion with a photo caption reading, "Roy Rogers gives a crowd
of 6000 in Greensboro, North Carolina, a scare when he takes a
bad fall after being thrown off a white stallion while performing
with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus.
Fortunately, the 55 year old cowboy singer isn't seriously hurt."
On his sixty-first birthday President Franklin D. Roosevelt
invited Roy Rogers to the White House for a March of Dimes Ball.
The cowboy felt out of place among the other Hollywood
celebrities present. Mrs.Roosevelt invited him to the kitchen
where they ate hamburgers and talked about one of her favorite
This game show differed from its predecessor, Password, in that
each word acted out was one of four clues for a specific person
or thing. A broadcast in 1975 offered the clues "Roy Rogers,"
"museum," "partner," and "stuffed." The answer was "Trigger."
Sixteenth American Air Squadron:
During the war years, a Sixteenth American Air Squadron bomber
was named after Trigger.
Trigger appeared in fancy show tack in his first film with
Rogers, "Under Western Stars" (1938). In the movies that
followed, his tack is changed from production to production for
aesthetic reasons or because of upkeep and use. This is normal
given the wear and tear saddles go through over time. The
original silver saddle was modified throughout Rogers' career.
The breast plate changed, and some silver was added to the front
of the leg straps which hold the stirrups and the tapaderos which
fit around them. The silver pieces were smaller than those used
on the original tapaderos.
It's doubtful Roy Rogers owned the saddle he used in Under
Western Stars; he didn't own Trigger then, so why would he own
the saddle? It was probably rented from Hudkins Stables along
with Trigger. It was also used on the palomino in the movie "Shut
My Big Mouth," made at Columbia at around the same time.
On occasions when Rogers was playing an out-of-work cowboy or an
historical figure like Billy the Kid or Bill Hickok, Trigger was
in plain brown leather tack. In "Young Buffalo Bill" (1940),
Trigger was ridden in show tack. After a while Trigger was filmed
only in show tack. In "Sunset in El Dorado" (1945), Trigger first
appears in fancy show tack. In a later dream sequence, he's in
plain leather tack. In "My Pal Trigger" (1946), Trigger plays his
own father, the Golden Sovereign, and is ridden by Dale Evans in
English tack. This was the only time he was ever seen in anything
other than a western gear. Finally, in the "Son of Paleface"
(Paramount, 1952), Little Trigger may be seen in special
custom-made red, white, and blue plastic western tack.
Rogers sported jockey attire and rode a Thoroughbred in an
English racing saddle during a steeplechase sequence in "Wall
Street Cowboy" (1939). In "Spoilers of the Plains" (1951) Rogers,
playing an oil company worker, used a protective suit to stop a
pipeline fire. Trigger also got to wear protective gear.
It's been rumored that Rogers used a saddle sized for a woman.
The filming techniques and camera angles usually made the actors
and actresses appear taller than they actually were. Circa 1995
Robert W Phillips received a letter from one Art Grigg of
Huntington Beach, California, with a photo of Roy Rogers and two
unidentified people standing is front of a fancy show saddle. Mr.
Grigg had read an article by Phillips in Western Horseman and
noted an error: apparently Phillips referred to a saddle at the
Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum as made by Edward H. Bohlin.
"I believe the ruby studded saddle that you refer to in your
article is the one in the enclosed picture, which is the one
under plastic cover at the RR museum. If in fact it is, then it
is almost certainly not a Bohlin saddle.
The saddle in the picture was made around 1931 by Davis and
McGabe of McGabe Silversmiths, and their names appear on the
saddle. It was made for a Mrs.Musik who owned a championship
horse named Diamond, which she kept in Palm Springs.
An interesting fact is that the saddle shown in your article was
also intended for a woman, being a Bohlin model designated the
Miss Dickson. There also were other saddles with the Dickson
name. The largest of these was the Dick Dickson, named after the
Fox West Coast Director. There was a Dick Dickson Jr. saddle
which was a size in between the others mentioned. There also was
a Dickson Jr. Special which had a Cheyenne roll cantle. I assume
the Miss Dickson model may have been named after the daughter of
Dick Dickson. So Roy being of slight stature compared to some of
the cowboys, used a smaller size saddle and in these two cases
ones intended for women."
Rogers said that he got his fancy Bohlin show saddle some time
around 1943. Actually it was used for first time in "Heart of the
Golden West," released November 16, 1942. One has to have the
uncut version to verify this, because Trigger does not wear it
till the last scene. The saddle was not used in the next Roy
Rogers feature, "Ridin' Down the Canyon," which was released
December 30 of the same year. In the next movie, "Idaho,"
released March 10, 1943, the saddle is used only in one scene.
About halfway through the movie, Rogers rides up, dismounts,
reads a letter, and talks with actor Harry Shannon. In "King of
the Cowboys," released on April 9 of the following year, the
Bohlin saddle is used for almost the entire production and would
remain a prominent fixture for the rest of movies Rogers and
Trigger made at Republic Pictures. Roy Rogers used a model
similar to the "Dick Dickson" style on Trigger. He paid $50,000
for a ruby studded Crown Jewel Bohlin saddle in 1950.
Rogers even owned a saddle that belonged to Buck Jones. One of
Rogers' silver saddles with Double R brand on the tapaderos was
made by Nudie Cohen. This was the saddle Trigger Jr. was wearing
in the museum. Rogers even had a silver saddle with no Double R
brands on the tapaderos; early on it was used on Trigger in the
museum for a time. Rogers was probably having the Bohlin saddle
Rogers had eight plastic saddles. Two were on a base color of
white with red eagles and blue stripes, with the Double R brand
on the tapaderos which were blue with red eagles. Two more were
the same as previous except the tapaderos were a blue base color
with white Double R brand and red eagles. A plastic Rose Parade
saddle, cream to white in color, had green leaves and yellow
roses. Two additional matching saddles were blue, white, and red
with no brands, made by All Western Plastics. One dark pink and
white saddle was made for Buttermilk.
The Tail Waggers Club:
After covering fifty thousand miles in one year on personal
appearance tours, "Trigger" was admitted to the Tail Waggers
Club, a company for illustrious equine travelers. Famous race
horses were also among the members.
When "Trigger" made personal appearances with Roy Rogers at such
places as the Cow Palace in San Francisco, stock shows in Ft.
Worth, Texas, or Madison Square Garden in New York City, he
traveled in comfort and safety in a custom-built trailer pulled
by a three and one-half ton Burma Road Dodge truck. The vehicle
was the result of the practical experience and ideas gathered
over years by Rogers while touring. The construction took three
months and required ten sets of blueprints before Rogers was
satisfied with the design. The truck required high-test gasoline,
stored in two 40-gallon fuel tanks. It came with a two-speed axle
and was capable of 50 mph on the highway, averaging seven miles
to the gallon. Both truck and trailer were equipped with air and
hydraulic brakes. As a backup safety measure, there was an extra
set of brakes on the tractor. The combined rig sat on 10 wheels
with puncture-proof tubes in all tires. The overall weight of the
entire outfit was 12 tons; it measured 35 feet in length and was
11 feet high. There was also a separate generator on board for
the 110-volt lighting system which supported both DC and AC
electric currents for the trailer. Both vehicles were fully
insulated. The stalls of the trailer were air conditioned. The
trailer included air-conditioned living quarters for the driver
and trainer or groom. The horse compartment sported three fully
padded stalls with feed bins for "Trigger" and his equine company
and even kennels for Rogers' hunting hounds, which he transported
on occasional hunting trips. Each side of the trailer featured
loading ramps and rungs on the outside to tie "Trigger" while he
was being groomed and tacked. A tack room not only accommodated
"Trigger's" saddles, bridles, and miscellaneous riding equipment,
but also bunk beds for the driver and trainer or groom. The
modest but stylish living quarters consisted of a stainless steel
kitchen complete with refrigerator, butane cooking stove, and a
small table for meals. Other creature comforts included indirect
lighting, electric heater, hot and cold running water, wardrobe
closets, and bedroom.
The trailer interior was paneled throughout in combed mahogany.
The floor was of a composition material and fully carpeted. The
exterior of the trailer was a streamlined design, finished in
blue and cream colors with chrome trim. All the windows were
copper screened, and screen doors were included inside of the
After Roy Rogers licensed his name to a chain of restaurants, a
joke started circulating about "Trigger burgers." The joke may
have originated in "Cracked" magazine.
When Trigger died in 1965, Rogers contacted Fiber Glass Menagerie
of Alpine, Colorado, to make a larger-than-life fiberglass
likeness. It was 23 and 1/2 feet tall and featured Trigger in the
signature rearing pose. It was placed at the front of the Roy
Rogers and Dale Evans Museum in Victorville and later moved to
the museum's new location in Branson, Missouri. Ironically, the
statue, with its four white socks, resembled Little Trigger more
than the original Trigger.
(Another strange mistake by Rogers? Hard to say what he was
thinking at the time. Little Trigger was "hush-hush" never openly
talked about in the press or interviews. Not given a noticable
grave spot with headstone, to remember this master "trick horse"
down through time. Yet as Pando notes, the huge fiberglass
"Trigger" is more like Little Trigger than the original Trigger.
Yet nothing, or no special place in the Museum, was given to Little
Trigger by Rogers.
One very BIG contradiction in the life of Roy Rogers and Trigger
- Keith Hunt)
Trigger Street and Trigger Place:
There are streets in Chatsworth, California, in the San Fernando
Valley, named to reflect the fact that Roy Rogers and family had
a home and ranch there: Trigger Street, Trigger Place (which
probably came later, after the subdividing of lots on Trigger
Street), and Dale Court. Trigger Place is not far from Trigger
Street, heading in a southwesterly direction on Valley Circle
Boulevard, past the Oakwood Cemetery on the right; after Cactus
Avenue and Dale Court, the road eventually intersects with
Trigger Place. Trigger Street is another right turn.
Trigger Street Productions:
Actor Val Kilmer grew up in the San Fernando Valley, California,
and lived next to Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. In a 2004 Biography
channel interview Kilmer reminisced about how he would knock on
their door and ask if Rogers could come out and play. The Kilmer
family eventually owned the Roy Rogers ranch in Chatsworth. "That
was great fun," Kilmer said. Not to mention surreal. "Trigger was
stuffed in the recreation room, where you could see him through
Kilmer met Kevin Spacey at the Chatsworth High School in the San
Fernando Valley. The two friends shared early dreams of becoming
famous actors. At one point they envisioned their own theatre to
be named after one of the local streets in the area, the Trigger
Street Theatre. Spacey later named his movie production company
Trigger Street Productions. He and producer Dana Brunetti of
Trigger Street Productions and TriggerStreet.com, as well as
writers and directors Adam Kassen and Mark Kassen, joined forces
to form Trigger Street Independent, a fully funded production
company headquartered in New York.
Ah, some very nice trivia stuff about Trigger and sometimes
Little Trigger (or as I like to call him, Trigger 2). Now,
strange it is to me that Roy Rogers did not keep a DIARY! My oh
my, what trivia there would have been in such a collection. Who
knows the reasons why Roy never kept a diary, maybe it would have
fallen into the wrong hands and some of the hype over "The
Smartest Horse in the Movies" would have been blown wide open
that the horse "Trigger" was actual TWO horses. Well for passing
on the truth of the matter to the next generations, it would have
been so much easier if Roy Rogers had kept a daily or weekly
Diary - Keith Hunt