Born Leonard Slye, Rogers moved to California as a migratory fruit picker in 1929. He formed a singing duo with a cousin, later changing his name to Dick Weston and forming a singing group, the Sons of the Pioneers; the group became successful, and appeared on Los Angeles radio and later in films. In 1935 he began appearing in bit roles in Westerns onscreen; by the early '40s Rogers had succeeded Gene Autry as "King of the Cowboys." His success was aided by the fact that Autry went to war and Rogers didn't; he also copied Autry's singing cowboy formula and wore clothes that went one better than Autry's ostentatiously fancy duds. Through the early '50s he starred in dozens of Westerns, often accompanied by his horse, Trigger (billed "the smartest horse in the movies"), and his sidekick, Gabby Hayes; his female lead was often Dale Evans, whom he married in 1947. From 1951-57 he starred in the TV series "The Roy Rogers Show." Meanwhile, he formed a chain of enterprises in the '50s; eventually this combination (a TV production company, Western products distributor/manufacturers, real estate interests, cattle, thoroughbred horses, rodeo shows, and a restaurant chain) was worth over $100 million.
Biography by Rovi
- As a child, lived in a Cincinnati neighborhood that was later torn down for the building of Riverfront Stadium.
- Had early aspirations of becoming a dentist.
- Made his radio debut in 1931 as part of a singing group.
- Was billed as Dick Weston in the earliest days of his film career, assuming his now-famous moniker prior to his first leading role in 1938's Under Western Stars.
- Starred with his wife Dale Evans in the Western TV series The Roy Rogers Show, which ran for six seasons between 1951 and 1957.
- Upon the 1965 death of his longtime equine companion, Trigger, had the stallion's body mounted at the Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum.
- In 1968, licensed his name to a chain of fast-food restaurants operated by the Marriott Corporation.
- Adopted five children during his lifetime, and championed charities for kids.