Orvon Grover Autry (September 29, 1907 – October 2, 1998), better known as Gene Autry, was an American performer who gained fame as a singing cowboy on the radio, in movies, and on television for more than three decades beginning in the early 1930s. Autry was also owner of a television station, several radio stations in Southern California, and the Los Angeles/California Angels Major League Baseball team from 1961 to 1997.
From 1934 to 1953, Autry appeared in 93 films and 91 episodes of "The Gene Autry Show" television series. During the 1930s and 1940s, he personified the straight-shooting hero—honest, brave, and true—and profoundly touched the lives of millions of Americans. Autry was also one of the most important figures in the history of country music, considered the second major influential artist of the genre's development after Jimmie Rodgers. His singing cowboy movies were the first vehicle to carry country music to a national audience. In addition to his signature song, "Back in the Saddle Again," Autry is still remembered for his Christmas holiday songs, "Here Comes Santa Claus," which he wrote, "Frosty the Snowman," and his biggest hit, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."
Autry is a member of both the Country Music Hall of Fame and Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, and is the only person to be awarded stars in all five categories on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, for film, television, music, radio, and live performance. The town of Gene Autry, Oklahoma was named in his honor.
In 1932 he married Ina May Spivey (who died in 1980), who was the niece of Jimmy Long. In 1981 he married Jacqueline Ellam, who had been his banker. He had no children by either marriage.
Autry, was raised into Freemasonry in 1927 at Catoosa Lodge No. 185, Catoosa Oklahoma. He later became a 33rd degree Master Mason, as it is recorded on his headstone.
Gene Autry died of lymphoma 3 days after his 91st birthday at his home in Studio City, California and is interred in the Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.
The Museum of the American West
The Museum of the American West in Los Angeles' Griffith Park was founded in 1988 as the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum, featuring much of his collection of Western art and memorabilia. Its mission is to preserve everything related to the "mythic aspects" of the American "Old West" from true historical lifestyles to the 70-year saga of the Hollywood Western movie genre.