His first hit record was "That Silver Haired Daddy Of Mine" in 1932.
Autry was the first owner of the Los Angeles Angels American League baseball club, subsequently renamed the California Angels when the team was relocated to Anaheim in 1966. (The team has been renamed twice: the Anaheim Angels, and now the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.) A radio station owner, Autry was interested in acquiring the broadcasting rights to the Angels games when he found out the team, part of the American League's first expansion, was for sale. He bought it. Autry owned the team in its entirety from its first year of play, 1961, until 1997, when he sold part of the franchise to Disney, who renamed the team the Anaheim Angels. Autry's widow sold the rest of the team to Disney after his death the next year at the age of 91.
According to a Hollywood legend, published in The Orange County Register after his death, Autry was discovered singing in a telegraph office in Oklahoma by Will Rogers. Rogers told him that he had a pretty good voice, and suggested that he go to Hollywood where he could make some money singing in the movies. Gene followed Rogers' advice and became "The Singing Cowboy." Autry himself related this story in an interview with Cecil B. DeMille on the Lux Radio Drama Hour. In the interview, Gene added that the next time he saw Rogers was in Hollywood. According to Gene, Will just nodded and said, "I see you made it, kid."
Interred at Forest Lawn (Hollywood Hills), Los Angeles, California, USA, in the Sheltering Hills section, Grave #1048.
Elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1969.
Grandson of an itinerant preacher, he became a multi-millionaire through his investments and real estate holdings.
Inducted into the Hall of Great Westerners of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 1980.
Inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 1972.
He was the most popular of the "singing cowboys." In his heyday he was making six to eight feature westerns a year.
More than 50 years after the last Gene Autry western, he is better known to later generations as a singer. His remastered vintage recordings of "Here Comes Santa Claus" and "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" remain very popular holiday standards into the 21st century.
The California/Anaheim Angels franchise retired #26 in his honor.
Biography in: "American National Biography". Supplement 1, pp. 19-22. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
Owned Golden West Broadcasters, which owned and operated San Francisco AM radio station KSFO, Los Angeles television station KTLA channel 5, and Los Angeles AM radio station KMPC.
During the war, he was awarded the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.
During World War II, when he left Republic Pictures to join the U.S. Army, he was the only officer allowed to wear cowboy boots with his uniform.
In response to his millions of young fans who wanted to be like Gene Autry, he developed a code of conduct, "The Cowboy Code", which is as follows: 1. The Cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or take unfair advantage. 2. He must never go back on his word, or a trust confided in him. 3. He must always tell the truth. 4. He must be gentle with children, the elderly, and animals. 5. He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas. 6. He must help people in distress. 7. He must be a good worker. 8. He must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action, and personal habits. 9. He must respect women, parents, and his nation's laws. 10. The Cowboy is a patriot.
In 1940, the National Association of Theater Owners voted him the fourth biggest box office attraction, behind Mickey Rooney, Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy.
On January 1st, 1942, the small town of Berwyn (Carter County, Oklahoma) changed its name and became 'Gene Autry'.
In 1992 he was said to be worth $320 million.
On 8 February 1960, he was awarded 4 stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame: for Motion Pictures at 6644 Hollywood Boulevard; Radio at 6520 Hollywood Boulevard; Recording at 6384 Hollywood Boulevard; and Television at 6667 Hollywood Boulevard. On 6 April 1987, he received a fifth star for Live Performance (rodeo) at 7000 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California. He is the only person with 5 stars on the Walk of Fame.
Gene did a lot work with preserving artifacts of the "Old West", including many Indian relics, and had a museum containing many of these articles.
Once tried to open a restaurant in Chicago. Local Mafia chieftains demanded a cut for their "permission" to start business. Autry refused to pay up. On the opening night gangsters appeared and told the staff to leave, and then destroyed the entire restaurant. Autry closed down and returned to the west coast.
Of his 92 starring features, only The Strawberry Roan (1948) and The Big Sombrero (1949) were filmed and released in color. Additionally, only the last season, 1955-56, of his long running TV series, "The Gene Autry Show"(1950) was filmed and broadcast in color.
There was an alternate version of Gene's first starring film, "The Phantom Empire"(1935), a 12 chapter serial. Though the plot and end result were the same, Gene's character(himself) is missing towards the end of the film, with not even a reference to his earlier presence. The film continues with the other cast members. Gene was temporarily unavailable and the film was almost shelved, but Gene finally returned to complete the film. That alternate version was last aired, locally in in NYC, in the early 1950s, perhaps by mistake, on a local feature program, titled "Time For Adventure"(TV). The shows' host, Rex Marshall,possibly unaware, made no mention of Gene's sudden absence from the film. There appear to be no reported sightings of that version since.
He was a lifelong Republican and an avid supporter of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan.
The Ocotillo Lodge in Palm Springs was once owned by Gene Autry. It has been used for film location shoots. It features a Mid-Century Architectural Design.
Business address: 4383 ColFax Ave. Studio City, CA 91604
Business address: 5828 W. Sunset Blvd, Hollwyood CA 90028
He was a first cousin, twice removed, of actors Randy Quaid and Dennis Quaid. Gene's maternal grandparents, Andrew Clinton Ozment and Margaret Malinda Pierce, were also Dennis and Randy's paternal great-great-grandparents.
Inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1979 as a stock contractor.
In 1952 he bought the Monogram Ranch which had been used in Western films since 1915 and went onto be used in the film High Noon and the television series Gunsmoke.
Autry's former Palm Springs, CA estate is now the Parker Palm Springs resort hotel. Gene's desert home is one of a number of bungalows on the property. During his ownership, it was known as Melody Ranch.
His horse was named Champion.