Monday, September 14, 2009


By Steve Crum

My childhood heroes were always cowboys--not a cowgal like Dale Evans. However, The Queen of the West, who died Feb. 7, 2001 at 88, was a contender. For over half a century, she was literally, in movies and real life, partnered with The King of the Cowboys, Roy Rogers. On top of that, she had her own famous horse, Buttermilk. And she could sing western songs just about as well as Roy. Like King Roy, she even starred in her own line of comic books. So to me and the neighborhood boys who teamed up to play our favorite western stars, Miss Dale only semi-qualified as honorary cowboy hero. 

A dialogue never heard: “OK, Donald, you are Johnny Mack Brown. Bobby, you are Lash LaRue. And I’m Dale Evans.” Playing cowboy was never a drag.

But Dale Evans was more of a Renaissance person than her saddle pard Roy. In addition to acting and singing, she was an author and composer. The Queen of the West was well labeled. No other female outside of Annie Oakley is so identified as a positive role model of the West, albeit in Evans’ case the romanticized West of movies, recordings and TV.

Strap on those spurs and saddle up. Gallop down that canyon pass again with THE DALE EVANS TRIVIA TEST. Answers are either TRUE or FALSE, and are listed at the end of this piece, pardners!
1.] Unlike Roy Rogers, who hailed from Ohio, Dale Evans was actually born a Westerner.
2.] Evans made only 15 movies.
3.] She starred in three TV series.
4.] Dale Evans wrote a song featured in a John Wayne classic movie.
5.] Roy Rogers was her first and only husband.
6.] The Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum is in Southern California.
7.] The song, (How Do I Know) The Bible Tells Me So, was written by Dale Evans.

1.] True. Lucille Wood Smith was born Oct. 31, 1912 in Uvalde, Texas.
2.] False. Her 41 movies began when she played a girl at the soda fountain in 1942’s Orchestra Wives, starring Glenn Miller and His Orchestra, and ended in 1951’s Pals of the Golden West.
3.] True. Included are The Roy Rogers Show (1951-57); The Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Show (1962); and A Date with Dale (1996).
4.] True. For John Wayne’s Rio Grande (1950), Dale’s song Aha, San Antone, was sung by co-stars Ben Johnson, Harry Carey Jr., and Claude Jarman Jr. Carey recalls: “That thing about Aha, San Antone was a spur-of-the-moment idea. It was written by Dale Evans and wasn’t in the plans at all. The Old Man (director John Ford) just threw it in. Claude, Ben and I actually sang it ourselves. Ford would never overdub or pre-record, we did it live. It’s a little ironic that Victor Young (the film’s composer) picked it up for Ben’s theme.”
5.] False. He was Numero Four. A mother at 15, Dale was first hitched to Thomas Fox (1927-29); then August Johns (1929-35); Robert Butts (1937-46); and lastly to Roy (1947-Roy’s death in 1998).
6.] False. It's no longer anywhere since it is nonexistent. It was for many years in Victorville, California before it was all moved, including the late Buttermilk, Trigger and Bullet, to Branson, Missouri. Son Dusty Rogers performed there, and ran the museum. Sadly, due to poor attendance, the museum closed a couple of years ago. (Roy would always become outraged when someone called his displayed animals “stuffed.” His horse Trigger, dog Bullet, and Dale’s horse Buttermilk are “mounted.” There is a difference, you know.) NOTE: When this article was first posted, the museum was still in Branson. I have done some updating.
7.] True. As most of the world knows, she also wrote Happy Trails to You, the couple’s theme song.
If you scored at least four correct, you are Top Buckaroo, so treat yourself to a finger dip of saddle soap. Until we meet again, Dale and Roy.
For Mr. & Mrs. Rogers singing Happy Trails, follow this link down the pass:

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