Roy Rogers TV Show and Others


The King of the Cowboys, Roy Rogers, was the last of the well known cowboy stars to come to US network television in late 1951. Hopalong Cassidy films were shown in 1949 and incredibly The Lone Ranger in Sept. ‘49.

Gene Autry’s films were on TV from in July ‘50.

Roy Rogers however was still under contract with Republic which was not scheduled to end until the end of May, 1951.

Actually, Roy wanted to do Republic features and produce his own TV series but unlike Gene Autry, who was producing his own films for release through Columbia – Roy was under contract to Herbert J. Yates at Republic.

Roy refused to sign a new deal without the right to do television and so Yates decided to sell his backlog of Rogers films to TV.

Roy was granted a temporary restraining order forbidding Republic from doing this – so there would be a delay until it was settled in court.

Not wanting to wait for a court decision—and feeling sure that the court would uphold his position—Roy Rogers Enterprises moved ahead on July 1 with production of four half hour telefilms. Thankfully, NBC had the foresight and confidence in Roy to advance him $100,000 for these four half-hour TV productions.

Under Roy’s new independent status, he was able to co-star with Bob Hope at Paramount in “Son of Paleface” – I am always surprised but in a way pleased, that Roy Rogers had the star status to enable him to share top billing with Bob Hope and Jane Russell

The Court case was settled pretty much in Roy’s favour – I must admit to being irritated by this. If someone signs a contract in my view that is binding. Around the same time we had Jean Simmons breaking her RKO contract and going to court – she did have to pay a substantial amount of money to free herself but she had signed initially to find Hollywood fame and when she did, she wanted out.

Some of these contracts made the actors very rich indeed – so it was by no means a one way street. Many stars of the time were not under long term contracts to anyone and just free-lanced in a notoriously precarious profession.

Roy and Dale, around this time in the very early fifties, were up at 5am ready to start work on location, often at Big Bear Lake, by 7am because time and money were strictly budgeted. They often worked til 9 or 10 at night.

Roy’s Frontiers Inc. company managed to finish its four films in time for Roy to start work for Paramount on time for “Son of Paleface”.

It was now autumn and “The Roy Rogers Show” was due on TV (and radio) under a dual contract between NBC and Post Cereals division of General Foods by December. Roy’s production company, was under the supervision of former Republic production manager Jack C. Lacey, and was to begin full-fledged production. In addition to Jack Lacey, Roy hired 35 former Republic employees

The series was set in the fictional town of Mineral City (where Dale operated the Eureka Cafe) but actually utilised many of the usual California filming locations. Roy and Dale played themselves – on Trigger and Buttermilk with German Shepherd Bullet running along beside them

Roy and Dale introduced us in various episodes to their children…Dusty (“Junior Outlaw”, “Three Masked Men”), Cheryl (“Outlaws of Paradise Valley”) and Dodie (“Little Dynamite”).

Oddly, songs (other than Dale’s themesong composition “Happy Trails”) were not an integral part of the series. Dale sings in “The Feud”, Roy lullabyes cattle in “Empty Saddles” and they duet on “The Bible Tells Me So” in “Ginger Horse”.

From December 1951 to September 1957, 100 episodes of “The Roy Rogers Show” were produced and were shown on NBC Sunday evenings.

I can’t recall them ever being on British Television at the time even though we had The Range Rider, The Lone Ranger, Rex and Rinty and one I really remember well is ‘Fighting with Kit Carson’ – a serial from the mid 30’s which was really exciting – Can’t forget the Mystery Riders who were a key part of the plot. This had Johny Mack Brown as Kit Carson and Noah Beery Jr as Nkomas

THESE PICTURES BELOW are from the 1947 film and from Republic in Trucolor which looked very good.

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