Bearded, amiable American singer/actor Kenny Rogers launched his professional career as a member of the New Christy Minstrels, then first rose to fame as a member of the country-pop group the First Edition. After several years of hits like "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town" (as well as popular syndicated TV series Rollin' on the River), the First Edition broke up in 1974. Rogers had some lean years immediately after the split, at one point making ends meet by promoting a correspondence school guitar course. The outlook became brighter in 1976 when Rogers recorded his first solo hit, "Love Lifted Me," which he followed up with the even more popular ballad "Lucille." He regained his following with a dozen TV specials and several duets with equally renowned female country artists. In 1980, Rogers made his TV-movie debut with The Gambler (1980), an agreeable Western based on one of his more successful songs ("You gotta know when to hold 'em/know when to fold 'em...etc."). The Gambler scored an immediate ratings coup, inspiring sequels over the next decade, the best of which was The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw (1991), which had the added drawing card of guest appearances by several popular TV cowboy stars of days gone by. Rogers also pleased the crowd with the made-for-TV Coward of the County (1981), a dramatized elaboration of another of his top-selling songs. Less successful was Kenny Rogers' starring theatrical feature, Six Pack (1982), which proves that having six cute kids onscreen doesn't make you a Disney-quality hit.