8 April 2013
Gene Autry: The Greatest Entertainer of the 20th Century
Gene Autry was truly born to be a standout entertainer. Autry excelled in multiple forms of entertainment such as radio, music, television, motion pictures and live theater. Before Autry, Country-Western music was a genre that was mainly listened to in rural areas in the Southern United States. Autry is known as the sole pioneer of the "Singing Cowboy" genre of entertainer. With all of Autry’s accomplishments in the entertainment industry came a nationwide love for Country-Western music. Autry is the only entertainer in history to hold five stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work in radio, movies, television, music, and theater. Autry is also one of the only entertainers to be inducted into the Grammy Hall of fame for two different accomplishments in music. Gene Autry is the greatest entertainer of 20th century America because of his impact on all facets of the entertainment industry.
Gene Autry, originally Orvon Grover Autry, was born on September 29, 1907 in the small town of Tioga, Texas. By the age of five Autry had already been taking lessons on how to sing from his mother and grandfather. As a young adult, Autry worked normal jobs but always found time to sing with his guitar. It wasn't until 1929 that Gene Autry made his original breakout into entertainment by performing on the radio. Autry married Ina May Spivey in 1932
and happily held the marriage for forty-eight years before Ina passed away in 1980. One year later in 1981, Autry was remarried to Jacqueline Ellam and held that marriage for seventeen years until he passed away in 1998.
Autry’s early career had many influences that helped him become such an astonishing entertainer. Gene's earliest influences were his Grandfather and his Mother when he was just a small child (Eder). Perhaps Autry’s biggest influence was Will Rogers who was at the time one of the biggest figures in entertainment. Will Rogers set up Gene Autry with his first audition for the record label RCA Victor. The label followed Autry for six months before Gene released his first record “My Dreaming of You”. According to Douglas B. Green, "After that release, Autry’s career skyrocketed into a place where few musicians have ever been."
While Gene Autry influenced America in many ways, perhaps his most significant influence was on the music industry. Autry changed the way Americans listened to Country-Western music often adding humor or charm to his records. His popularity as an entertainment figure made Country-Western music substantially more popular amongst the American people . Gene released the most country music of any artist between 1930-1950. Gene Autry was also a pioneer for Christmas music with his biggest records " Rudolph the Red Nosed Raindeer" and "Frosty the Snowman". Without Autry’s accomplishments in the music industry , Country- Western music and Christmas music would not be at the popularity that it's at today.
Gene Autry also made a huge impact on the Radio industry. Autry's work in Radio permanently changed the general American Public's view on the power of radio shows. His most
famous Radio show was “ Gene Autry’s Melody Ranch” which ran on air for an unprecedented sixteen years (Eder). Beginning in the 1930’s, Autry’s shows were often aired nationwide and heard by a good portion of America’s youth. On his radio shows Autry often included advice and life lessons mainly directed for children who were listening. Autry created a “Cowboy Code” for his young listeners to teach them how to be a proper cowboy according to his guidelines . For instance, in his cowboy code Autry stated, “He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas”. This leads many people to believe Autry was ahead of his time with his beliefs and views on...
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