See index for CTFT sketch: Born September 29, 1907, in Tioga, TX; diedOctober 2, 1998, in Los Angeles, CA. Singer, actor, businessman, philanthropist, and author. Credited as the first singing cowboy movie star, Autry was one of the most popular film stars of the 1930s and 1940s. Already a successful radio performer when he was hired by Republic Pictures to star in their low-budget westerns, Autry became one of the top ten money-makers in film from 1938 to 1942, playing a smiling, singing, good-guy cowboy in nearly one hundred feature-length films. He left behind fame and fortune to join the Army AirCorps during World War II, flying supply planes in the Far East until the war's end. Afterwards, he formed his own production company, Flying A Productions, as a division of Columbia Pictures, and thereafter made his own films as well as the episodes for his half-hour television show, The Gene Autry Show, which aired in the 1950s, and other television westerns. Such shrewd business sense had already been seen in Autry's early decision to franchise hisname to sell western clothing and other items, including a guitar similar tohis first, many of which were featured in the Sears & Roebuck catalogue.Autry quit show business in the 1950s, focusing his considerable energies onbusiness ventures and accumulating in the space of a decade several radio stations, hotels, a flying school, a 20,000 acre cattle ranch, and a baseball team, the California (later the Anaheim) Angels, and becoming one of the wealthiest men in America. He is the only person to have five stars on Hollywood'sWalk of Fame, celebrating his work in film, amounting to nearly one hundredmovies, music, culminating in 635 recordings, television, amounting to 91 episodes of his television show, radio, including sixteen years as the star of his own radio show, and live performance. In 1988 he created and endowed the Autry Museum of Western Heritage in Los Angeles, which houses thousands of items of western memorabilia. He penned nearly two hundred songs, one of the first, "That Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine" being the first gold record ever, andrecorded more than six hundred songs in total, including "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," which is the second largest selling single of all time. Autry'ssignature song became the title of his 1978 memoirs, Back in the Saddle Again.
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