As a college student, Tex Ritter (born Woodward) began studying cowboy ballads and southwest folklore, and later dropped out of law school to launch a stage and radio folk-singing career. He debuted on Broadway in 1930; his first screen appearance was in Song of the Gringo (1936). Almost immediately, he rivalled Gene Autry in popularity (as a singing cowboy) among movie fans; from 1937-41 and 1944-45 he was on the top-ten Western stars list, and ultimately he appeared in 85 films. He was often referred to as "America's most beloved cowboy." In the latter half of the '40s he stopped making films, instead touring with White Flash, his horse, in live shows; he also continued his successful recording career. He went on to provide the title songs of five Westerns, narrate a sixth, and appear on TV's "Zane Grey Theater." He moved to Nashville and became a weekly fixture at the Grand Ole Opry. He also founded a restaurant franchise, "Tex Ritter's Chuck Wagons." In 1966 he had a prominent role in the film The Girl from Tobacco Row and was featured in cameos as himself in two others. In 1970 he ran in the Republican primary for U.S. Senator in Tennessee, but lost. He was the only entertainer to be elected to both the Cowboy Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame. He was married to actress Dorothy Fay; their son is actor John Ritter.