Thursday, November 19, 2009

Gene Autry, America's Favorite Singing Cowboy

One of Palm Springs famous former residents, the late Gene Autry received a new bronze statue in Palm Springs in his honor. Gene Autry was known as "The Singing Cowboy" from a thirty year career in radio, television and movies in the heyday of Hollywood. In addition to being an entertainer, Autry had a number of major hobbies, including owning the MLB team the Anaheim Angels (of Los Angeles). In fact the Anaheim Angels held their Spring training right here in Palm Springs for the entire time he owned the team. He invested wisely and owned a television station, multiple radio stations and a few hotel properties as well. Gene Autry bought his first home in Palm Springs in 1940 and was an active member of our community. He was first discovered by another famous Hollywood cowboy, Roy Rogers who also spent time here in Palm Springs. If you're like me, you probably remember Gene Autry for his signature song "Back in the Saddle" or his legendary Christmas album with his classic versions of "Here Comes Santa Claus", Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" and "Frosty the Snowman". (Those are among my favorites, with Nat King Cole's "The Christmas Song"). This photo below is from The Desert Sun newspaper website:
Gene Autry was also known for creating the Cowboy Code, which according to Autry a cowboy must:

1. Never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or take unfair advantage.

2. Never go back on his word, or a trust confided in him.

3. Always tell the truth.

4. Be gentle with children, the elderly and animals.

5. Not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas.

6. Help people in distress.

7. Be a good worker.

8. Keep himself clean in thought, speech, action and personal habits.

9. Respect women, parents and his nation's laws.

10. Be a patriot.

His "Cowboy Code" still seems to make sense to me, even all these years later, don't you agree? When Gene Autry died in 1998, he was one of the 400 richest Americans, with a net worth of over $320 million. Today, his widow maintains the nonprofit Gene Autry Foundation, which has donated over $280 million to all sorts of charities here in the Coachella Valley and beyond. Gene Autry Trail is a major street here in Palm Springs, upon which I travel frequently. It is fitting that there is now a beautiful bronze statue in his honor right on the street that also bears his name.

above: another view of the new Gene Autry statue. I also borrowed this photo from the Desert Sun website.

-Rick Rockhill

9 comments:

Rhodester said...

I'm looking forward to returning to Palm Springs years from now and driving down "Rick Rockhill Road," which will intercept Palm Canyon and take me directly to the new bronze statue of "The Palm Springs Savant," which will no doubt be beloved by many of the healthy, happy area dogs.

Sweet Virginia Breeze said...

When I was little, I loved Gene Autry. I used to watch him on TV and sing along with "Back in the Saddle Again".
I like his Cowboy Code.

Palm Springs Savant said...

Aw shucks Rhoester, thanks. You sure are a swell cowboy

kenju said...

Gene was my favorite. My mom took me to the movies every Friday night when I was a kid, and 9 times out of 10 it was one of his movies; his or Hopalong Cassidy!

Jeni said...

I'm thinking maybe kids today need some good old-fashioned heros -like Gene Autry and Roy Rogers! Nothing wrong at all with his Cowboy Code.

grace said...

back in the saddle is one of my favs. He was a good ole cowboy hero for sure. I am happy to read there is a statue in his honor. Also, I hand no idea how wealthy he was. interesting.

KathyA said...

Not only was he one of my favorites when I was a child; but my paternal grandmother just loved him and "Frosty the Snowman." (The song, not the actual snowman :) )!

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

oh if only everyone lived by the cowboy code! what a world this would be!

smiles, bee
xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

lime said...

oh i really enjoyed this and i learned a thing or two about gene autry. thanks! i think lots of folks would do well to embrace the cowboy code.

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