Roy Rogers (born Leonard Franklin Slye) (November 5, 1911 – July 6, 1998), was a singer and cowboy actor, as well as the namesake of the well-known Roy Rogers Restaurants chain. He and his second wife Dale Evans, his golden palomino Trigger, and his German Shepherd Dog, Bullet, were featured in over one hundred movies and The Roy Rogers Show. The show ran on radio for nine years before moving to television from 1951 through 1957. His productions usually featured a sidekick, often either Pat Brady, (who drove a jeep called "Nellybelle") or the crotchety Gabby Hayes. Roy's nickname was "King of the Cowboys". Dale's nickname was "Queen of the West." For many Americans (and non-Americans), he was the embodiment of a cowboy.
Rogers formed Sons of the Pioneers, a western cowboy music group, in 1933 with Tim Spencer and Bob Nolan. They were joined by Hugh Farr (fiddle/bass vocals) in 1934, Karl Farr (guitar) in 1935, and Lloyd Perryman (vocals) in 1936. When Rogers began his film career, the group took on Pat Brady (string bass), who brought with him his flair for comedy (Brady later starred as Rogers' sidekick in his popular 1951 television program). The group remained popular into the 1960s. In 2003, the Sons of the Pioneers was among the winners of the Golden Boot Award, along with actors Chris Alcaide, Kelo Henderson, Tommy Lee Jones, and Kris Kristofferson. Though all of the original members are deceased, the group continues, led by Dale Warren (a member since 1953 replacing Ken Curtis), and performs regularly at concerts in Branson, Missouri and other locations. It has been claimed that the Sons of the Pioneers is the oldest continually performing private musical group in history. Ken Curtis is best remembered as an actor, primarily for playing Festus on Gunsmoke, but was a member of the Sons from 1949 to 1953. Western character actor Shug Fisher was a member from 1943-46, 1949-53 and 1955-59.
For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Roy Rogers has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1752 Vine Street, a second star at 1733 Vine Street for his contribution to radio, and a third star at 1620 Vine Street for his contribution to the television industry.
Roy and Dale were inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in 1976 and Roy was inducted again as a member of the Sons of the Pioneers in 1995. Roy was also twice elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame, first as a member of The Sons of the Pioneers in 1980 and as a soloist in 1988.
Rogers also owned a Thoroughbred racehorse named Triggairo who won 13 career races including the 1975 El Encino Stakes at Santa Anita Park.
Rogers died of congestive heart failure on July 6, 1998. Rogers was residing in Apple Valley, California at the time of his death. Rogers was buried at Sunset Hills cemetery in Apple Valley.