This Day in History… November 5, 1911

U.S. #4446 was issued as part of a set of four stamps in 2010 honoring actors who popularized Westerns in the early 1900s.

Birth of Silver Screen Cowboy Roy Rogers

On November 5, 1911, future singer and actor Leonard Franklin Slye, better known as Roy Rogers, was born.

When Slye was a child, his father brought home a cylinder player (the predecessor to the phonograph) and a cylinder by a Swiss yodeler. Slye played the cylinder again and again and developed his own style of yodeling. At the age of 18, he moved to California to become a singer.

U.S. #UX597 – A Roy Rogers postcard cancelled on the first day of issue.

In the 1930s, Slye’s band, Sons of the Pioneers, began singing in Western films. His movie roles were small until 1938, when Gene Autry had a contract dispute with Republic Pictures. The studio held auditions for a singing cowboy to replace Autry in the upcoming movie, Under Western Stars. Slye didn’t have an appointment, so he mingled in with a crowd of movie extras and snuck onto a lot. The producer loved Roy’s singing, and gave him the starring role. It was at this time he adopted the stage name, Roy Rogers. It was suggested by the studio, in part inspired by Will Rogers, and the shortening of “Leroy” into “Roy.”

For his horse in the film, Roy chose a palomino named Golden Cloud. A fellow actor mentioned how quick on the trigger the horse was. Rogers agreed and changed the horse’s name to Trigger. The two went on to star in over 80 movies together.

Rogers starred in more than 100 films during his career and had his own radio show that was eventually made into a T.V. show. Nicknamed “King of the Cowboys,” Roy became an idol to millions of children. In recognition of his achievements in radio, music, film, and television, Roy Rogers received four stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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