American singer/actress Dale Evans took a stenographer's job while seeking out singing work. A widow at 17, she became a radio and nightclub songstress, married again and set out to try her luck in Hollywood. Few good parts came her way at the major studios (she is barely visible in 20th Century-Fox's Orchestra Wives , which featured an equally unbilled Jackie Gleason), so she had to settle for leading roles at Republic Studios, a "B" factory. She wasn't keen on westerns, but westerns were what she got, co-starring in 20 oaters with Republic's Number One singing cowboy, Roy Rogers. It wasn't until Rogers' first wife died in the late '40s that he and Evans realized that theirs was more than just a happy professional association. Rogers and Evans were married in 1947, assuming the honorary mantle of "King of the Cowboys and Queen of the West;" it was Evans who wrote the couple's enduring theme song, "Happy Trails to You."
The Rogers starred together in two TV series, a standard weekly western in the 1950s and an ABC variety show in 1962; in the early '80s, Evans soloed as host of a long-running syndicated religious talk show. Rogers and Evans' marriage was sorely tested by multiple tragedies; of Evans' six children, one was mentally retarded and only three survived past the age of 21. Evans was strengthened by the solidarity of her marriage and by her unwavering religious convictions. To help others to cope with anguish, she has written several uplifting books about the travails and triumphs of her life. She has also been quite active in her pet cause, the prevention of child abuse. In the mid-'90s Dale Evans was in the process of recovering from a serious illness, and resuming her religious and charitable activities.