A few years ago, we were visiting my wife’s sister Barbara at her home in Tennessee.
It was a Sunday and the TV was on, but not being watched.
The TV was on the Encore Western movie channel, which at the time I didn’t have.
At high noon, I found out this channel featured one of my top stars every week.
Top of the list
At the top of my list of favorite actors and singers is Orvon Grover Autry, who was born near Tioga, Texas, on Sept. 29, 1907.
As an actor, singer, songwriter, businessman, baseball team owner and World War Two Air Force pilot, this great American as you may have guessed is Gene Autry.
From 1934 to 1953, Gene was in 99 roles including his TV show (1950-1955).
Although Gene’s films were made for the double features for the children’s Saturday shows, I never considered them the usual “B” westerns, because they were too well made.
I never saw a bad Gene Autry film and I’ve seen plenty of them.
Best before WWII
My favorites are the ones Gene made before joining the U.S. Army Air Force in 1942.
Due to his age, he didn’t have to join. One of my favorites is The Old Corral (1936), which features two stars born in Cincinnati.
Irene Manning (1912-2004) was billed as Hope Manning in this her first film.
Thanks to a studio friend, she got the role as a singer in a Chicago night spot, fleeing west by bus after witnessing a murder.
She was born Inez Harvout. She was attractive and had a great voice.
Remember Cincinnati born Leonard Franklin Slye (1911-1998) also known as Roy Rogers?
He was in this great film as a member of the singing group known as the Sons of the Pioneers.
Of all of the stars, if I could have been any of them, it would have been Gene Autry.
On Gene’s birthday Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013, I wasn’t feeling well so I stayed in bed watching, between naps, Encore Western channel’s birthday tribute by showing Gene’s great films from before World War-II to the early 1950s.
If you hate me ...
The multitude that hate or even dislike me will get a smile on their face after reading the following.
A recent visit to my lung doctor revealed a spot on my lung is growing.
This is the spot believed to be cancer for which I had radiation not long ago.
The bad news for the multitude is the spot is on a part of the lung that doesn’t function anymore due to years of emphysema.
The retired great Dr. Richard Morris discovered the emphysema more than 30 years ago.
Bill Baird is a Whitewater Township resident who writes a weekly column about old movies and Hollywood trivia.