Keith Hunt - Gene may yet be King! - Page Twenty- two   Restitution of All Things

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Gene may yet be King!

Stronger Foundation?

             GENE AUTRY MAY END UP AS THE KING OF THE COWBOYS



Gene Autry was the first "singing cowboy." He backed out and
went on strike with Republic Pictures. So hence Roy Rogers came
on the scene as Republic's stand in for Gene Autry, in "Under
Western Stars" - and .... Republic gave Roy Rogers the title of
"The King of the Cowboys" and as they say, the rest is history.
Welllll....in part it is, then the other part of history is yet
to play itself out.

Both men, Gene and Roy ended up as multi-millionaires. Both
invested much of their money but in different ways. Roy had
wanted a Museum, where his life story could be preserved in
personal family possessions. Gene was not so much interested in
having a museum from that side of life, but a museum of shall be
say "cowboy heritage."

Both men got to have their dream of a "museum type" building.

Both men have a Website to honor them.

Yet, from reading the facts as presented by Leo Pando in his book
"An Illustrated History of Trigger" one reads that the Roy Rogers
Museum was in deep financial cris with the Tax department.
Apparently the problem was resolved ... well for 15 years. The
Roy Rogers Museum is now a "charity." So it has a life of 15
years, and about 5 years has hit the trail. In another 10 years
Dusty Rogers will be about 70 years old. Kinda time to retire.
The question is after his retirement, who has any ability to do
what he is now doing? That is who could continue to promote Roy
Rogers in the way Dusty is doing it?

What Roy built was a "personalized" Museum, that to operate in
top gear really needs an "up front" person with the abilities of
at least the ones Dusty has, a singing voice, and an immediate
connection with Roy, being his very son.

It would seem that such a person does not exists outside of Dusty
Rogers. Then, as the Roy Rogers "outreach" is a charity with 15
years of life, it would also seem that Dusty and whoever in the 
"Rogers" family is alive, will be willing (or forced) to let the 
Museum be dispersed. In other words the whole outreach may come 
to a STOP, an END!

Unless some mighty big changes take place in the next 10 years
with the Roy Rogers charity outreach, the prospects are looking
like for the most part that Roy Rogers and Trigger will be a part
of ancient American history, and sorry to say, such history,
eventually gets put into small print as "once upon a time....."

As the immediate younger than Roy generation gets older (I'm one
of them) and dies out, literally, the newer generations will not
even know there ever was a Roy Rogers and Trigger. Proof of that
is here and now. I become, for one hour on a Friday noon, during
the summer months of July and August, Roy Rogers. I dress like
him, and I put on a Roy Rogers and Sons of the Pioneers show, for
the kids in the summer horse and pony camp. I can tell you that
just about none of the 60 children in the camp each week (for 8 weeks)
have ever heard of Roy Rogers and Trigger. It is all new to them.
Some do go out and buy some Roy Rogers movies; I've had parents
tell me so. But the fact is if the Roy Rogers Museum and Website
finally closes down, and people like me retire also, along with
Dusty Rogers; then Roy Rogers and Trigger will indeed become some
ancient history of the once "out West" singing cowboy movies.

Stop and think. Who in the younger generation knows there was a
Hopalong Cassidy or The Lone Ranger, or a Tom Mix, or a Tex
Ritter, or .... any of them back in the "olden days"?   

Unless you come form a family still having and watching all those
cowboy guys on DVD, just about nobody in the younger generation
knows they ever existed.

Now Gene Autry, he founded a "Cowboy Heritage Center" and it
comes from a much different perspective than a "personalized"
Museum such as is the Roy Rogers Museum.
From what I can see from the Gene Autry Website, all is moving
along very nicely. No financial troubles, no "tax" troubles, no
"charitable life of 15 years" tag hanging around its neck.

It could well be that Gene managed his money in a more secure way
for a much longer time, or indefinite period of time, than Roy
Rogers managed his portfolio.

In the long run of it all, when it all comes down to
sustainability, not only was Gene and his people "right up front"
with his life and horses, but he and his people put down roots in
different soil than the soil Roy put his roots into. Maybe Gene
had better "advisors" than Roy, or maybe Gene was willing to
listen to others opinions and advice more than what Roy was
willing to do.

But from what I can see at this present time, it could well be
that Gene Autry gains the title of "The King of the Cowboys" -
maybe not officially, but in substance and ultimate longevity, it
could well run down that trail. As they say, "Time will tell." 

I sure do not mind Gene taking back the title of "King of the
Cowboys" but I hope Roy sticks right along beside him. That I
suspect will depend on the family members Rogers left behind, and
once the charity is called in and the game is declared over.

Keith Hunt

(December 2008)

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