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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  1. When I was a youngster in the late 1940’s Roy Rogers movies were shown Saturday mornings in the small movie theater in Upcountry South Carolina. The cost of a ticket was nine cents. He was one of my favorite cowboys. Around 20 years later in the late 1960’s I was on a flight to Dallas, Texas. When we were deplaning, Roy was standing on the right side of the isle in the first class section of the airplane. The man in front of me said to Roy, “I don’t see Trigger.” Roy simply responded, “Nope.” Never the less it was a thrill for me to be so close to my favorite cowboy. – GEH

    1. One thing I like about Roy Rogers was his exemplary character off stage and his dedicated family life. A great guy!

  2. Thanks for the info on Roy Rogers. I saw a lot of his movies and always thought he was a great actor and singer.

  3. I worked in the 1960s at the Marriott hotel in the Washington DC area where Roy would stay when he came to town on business trips for the then new Roy Rogers restaurants that were backed by the Marriott company. I had a few opportunities to speak to him when he was checking into the hotel, and I often got a nod and a wave from him in the hotel lobby. Happy trails to you, Roy.

  4. Such an interesting article, absent of any mention of Roy Rogers restaurants, there was one in Philadelphia, where I have had lunch.

  5. Roy Rogers was always a favorite with my family growing up. Thanks for this backround info on him. Dale Evans, his wife, was a favorite, as well. A great couple example for us all. I enjoyed reading her books about their family. “Happy trails to you…”

    1. Stuart, you must be about my age – 77. Our Saturday movies were in the morning and the cost was 9 cents. You and I grew up in the best of times. – Glenn

  6. Roy Rogers was my adopted Father. That is I adopted him in my mind. I was raised in the Charleston Orphanage and since I didn’t have a male figure I chose Roy. Just before the Museum closed in Branson, Mo. our daughter paid for my wife and me to go to Branson to see the Mounted Trigger, Buttermilk (Dale’s horse), Bullet, the dog and Trigger Jr. We got to meet Roy Jr. and Roy the 3Rd. It was a great trip filled with memories I shall never forget. I starred at Trigger for the longest time, and had a great time talking to Roy Jr. Our grandson went with us and was picked out of the crown as one of the last fans of the “King of the Cowboys”.

  7. A wonderful This Day in History, Mystic. Roy Rogers was a hero to me and I loved watching his movies and TV shows. Thanks for this great trip down memory lane. “Happy trails to you, until we meet again…”

  8. Gene Autry was always my favorite, but after you data for Roy… Aw heck I always loved Roy and Dale too. What about Tom Mix? Does he have a stamp? Love those cowboys!!!

  9. Roy Rogers was the epitome of how life was back in the fifties. Loving. caring, peaceful etc..
    How did things change so drastically to the mess we are in now?
    Hopefully we will learn to control our “advancements” and return to saner days!!!

  10. I loved Roy and Dale growing up. I have read just about everything written about them. I lived in CA as a teenager about an hour from the museum there and never got to visit it. But, I made the trip to Branson three times to visit that one. In fact, I was there just about two weeks before it closed. I have a complete gallery of pictures I took. I also got to meet Dusty and Roy, 3rd generation. I had my picture taken with them. I will also treasure the memories of his movies and songs.. It is sad that the next generations won’t have the chance to visit that Museum and get to know a true legend. RIP Roy and Dale and thank you for the examples you led for us as we were children and adults.

  11. As a child I went to see Roy at the old Crosley Field in Cinti, Ohio. My Mother was his 2nd cousin, so we were led to his dressing room, when he came down the steps I was in awe, as he was all decked out in his stage outfit. . He let me sit on Trigger and play with Bullet, while he and Mom talked. I found out later in life that Dale Evans had written a book about the daughter who had passed called Angels Unaware. I thought it was one of the best books I had ever read, I cried while reading it as it was so touching. These are wonderful memories for me to treasure for the rest of my life.

  12. When I was a kid growing up in the late ’40s, there were six cowboy stars who had their own radio shows: Red Ryder, the Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Tom Mix, and Hopalong Cassidy. Oops, make that seven–almost forgot the Cisco Kid! They were mostly on in the afternoon, for half an hour, sometimes three in a row. We would listen to them on the big radio in someone’s living room (we didn’t have TV until late 1949), then go outside and play them until it got dark.

    They all had sidekicks, too–Red Ryder had Little Beaver; the Lone Ranger, Tonto; Roy Rogers had Gabby Hayes; Gene Autry had Pat Buttram; not sure who Tom Mix had; and Hoppy had Lucky and California. And Cisco had Pancho! I remember Gabby Hayes’ favorite saying, without his false teeth, “Ding bust it, Roy, we let them varmints get away!”

    Our Saturday matinees in SoCal were about 15¢, but we got about 8 cartoons, 2 short subjects (Laurel & Hardy, Charley Chase, Buster Keaton, etc.), plus a feature-length western. The matinees had long disappeared by the time my boys were that age–they just sat and watched cowboys & cartoons on TV.

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