This is an online encyclopedia of personalities of Old Time Radio. It is designed for educational and entertainment purposes.

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Billy Jack Long is a professional musician and author from Southern California. Any paid advertising you see on this page was not put her by Bill. Ignore it and it should go away.

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Gene Autry (1907-98)

Orvon Gene Autry was born September 29, 1907, in Tioga, Texas. As a child, he moved to Ravia, Oklahoma. After finishing high school in Ravia, Gene worked as a telegraph operator for the St. Louis-San Francisco Railroad (Frisco).

In 1928, Gene entered an amateur music contest on a local radio station. He got the opportunity to meet Will Rogers. Later that year, he was given the nickname, "Oklahoma's Singing Cowboy." The following year, 1929, he got a recording contract with Columbia Records and moved to Chicago where he performed on a number of shows over station WLS. These included the National Barn Dance.

In 1932, he began recording some records which would be forever remembered: "That Silver Haired Daddy of Mine" (with fellow former Frisco railroadman Jimmy Long), "Back in the Saddle Again" (it was first a hit record for Ray Whiteley), and many others.

He began making motion picures in 1934. Toward the end of the decade, he did more work on radio, mostly for the Columbia Broadcasting System.

He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942, staying in until 1946. Gene was a flight instructor for the U.S. Army Air Force.

Upon his honorable discharge, Gene made a few movies and returned to radio. Gene retired from entertainment and concentrated on investing his money in real estate, broadcasting (Golden West Broadcasters, which included KTLA, channel 5, and KMPC, AM radio 710, both located on the former site of the Warner Brothers Hollywood studios), and the California Angels.

Married twice, to Ina Mae Spivy (niece of Jimmy Long) in 1930 (who died in 1980) and to banker Jacqueline Ellam in 1981, he had no children from either marriage. Gene died October 2, 1998, in the Studio City neighborhood of Los Angeles from lymphoma.

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