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.