Back to :- Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills - Celebrity Graves.
The Final Resting Place of Gene Autry.
29th.September 1907 - 2nd.October 1998.
Sheltering Hills Section, in front of one of the statues.
Cause of Death - Cancer.
Autry, the grandson of a Methodist preacher, was born near Tioga, Texas. His parents, Delbert Autry and Elnora Ozmont, moved to Ravia, Oklahoma in the 1920s. After leaving high school in 1925, Autry worked as a telegrapher for the St. Louis–San Francisco Railway.
An amateur talent with the guitar and voice led to his performing at local dances. After an encouraging chance encounter with Will Rogers, he began performing on local radio in 1928 as "Oklahoma's Yodeling Cowboy".
He signed a recording deal with Columbia Records in 1931. He worked in Chicago, Illinois on the WLS (AM) radio show National Barn Dance for four years with his own show where he met singer/songwriter Smiley Burnette. In his early recording career Autry covered various gendres, including a labor song, "The Death of Mother Jones" in 1931. But his first hit was in 1932 with That Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine, a duet with fellow railroad man, Jimmy Long.
Discovered by film producer Nat Levine in 1934, he and Burnette made their film debut for Mascot Pictures Corp. in In Old Santa Fe as part of a singing cowboy quartet; he was then given the starring role by Levine in 1935 in the 12-part serial The Phantom Empire. Shortly thereafter, Mascot was absorbed by the formation of Republic Pictures Corp. and Autry went along to make a further 44 films up to 1940, all B westerns in which he played under his own name, rode his horse Champion, had Burnette as his regular sidekick and had many opportunities to sing in each film. He became the top Western star at the box-office by 1937, reaching his national peak of popularity from 1940 to 1942. He was the first of the singing cowboys, succeeded as the top star by Roy Rogers when Autry served as a flier with the Air Transport command during World War II. From 1940 to 1956, Autry also had a weekly radio show on CBS, Gene Autry's Melody Ranch. Another money-spinner was his Gene Autry Flying "A" Ranch Rodeo show which debuted in 1940. He briefly returned to Republic after the war, to finish out his contract, which had been suspended for the duration of his military service and which he had tried to have declared void after his discharge. Thereafter, he formed his own production company to make westerns under his own control, which were distributed by Columbia Pictures, beginning in 1947. He also starred and produced his own television show on CBS beginning in 1950. He retired from show business in 1964, having made almost a hundred films up to 1955 and over 600 records. He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1969 and to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970. Post-retirement he invested widely in real estate, radio and television, including buying the copyrights from dying Republic Pictures for the films he had made for them.
As baseball executive
In 1960, when Major League Baseball announced plans to add an expansion team in Los Angeles, Autry – who had once declined an opportunity to play in the minor leagues – expressed an interest in acquiring the radio broadcast rights to the team's games; baseball executives were so impressed by his approach that he was persuaded to become the owner of the franchise rather than simply its broadcast partner. The team, initially called the Los Angeles Angels upon its 1961 debut, moved to suburban Anaheim in 1966 and became known as the California Angels, then the Anaheim Angels from 1997 until 2005, when it became the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. In 1995 he sold a quarter share of the team to The Walt Disney Company, and a controlling interest the following year, with the remaining share to be transferred after his death. Earlier, in 1982, he sold television station KTLA (Los Angeles) for $245 million.
In 1932 he married Ina May Spivey (who died in 1980), who was the niece of Jimmy Long. He married his second wife, Jackie Autry, in 1981. He had no children by either marriage.
In 1972, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
His autobiography was published in 1976, co-written by Mickey Herskowitz; it was titled Back in the Saddle Again after his 1939 hit and signature tune. He is also featured year after year, on radio and "shopping mall theme music" at the holiday season, by his famous recording of "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer". "Rudolph" became the first #1 hit of the 1950's.
MT in 2003 ranked him #38 in CMT's 40 Greatest Men of Country.
When the Anaheim Angels won their first World Series in 2002, much of the championship was dedicated to him.
The interchange of Interstate 5 and California State Route 134, located near the Gene Autry Museum of Western Heritage, is signed as the "Gene Autry Memorial Interchange."
The Museum figures as the centerpiece of his legacy
The Museum of the American West, in Los Angeles' Griffith Park, was founded in 1988 as the "Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum", featuring much of his collection of Western art and memorabilia. It has become a very respected institution, preserving the essence of everything related to the "mythic appects" of the American "old west". Everything from true historical lifestyles, to the 70-year sage of the Hollywood "western movie" genre.
Included for many years on Forbes magazine's list of the 400 richest Americans, he slipped to their "near miss" category in 1995 with an estimated net worth of $320 million.
He was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 2003. He is also the only person to date to receive 5 stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for contributions in all five possible categories.
In 2004, the Starz Entertainment Corporation joined forces with the Autry estate to restore all of his films, which have been shown on Starz's Encore Western Channel on cable television on a regular basis to date since.
Gene Autry died of lymphoma at age 91 at his home in Studio City, California, and is interred in the Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.