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For many years, Dale Evans pranced into America's living rooms at the side of her cowboy husband, Roy Rogers and stands out as the most powerful female presence in cowboy culture throughout the 20th century. The mother of nine children, Dale was a singer, an actress, a speaker, and the author of twenty-eight books, including Angel Unaware, written in 1953 and regarded today as a classic. Angel Unaware, tells of the ways Dale's deep faith bolstered her during the illness and death of her two-year-old daughter from mumps and brain fever. In this book, she recounts the ways that God's love and grace supported her when two of her other children died tragic deaths. She also tells the story of her early years in Hollywood and the challenges she faced there as she tried to balance her faith with her desire to be a film star. Born in Texas, she was named Texan of the Year by the Texas Press Association, Church Woman of the Year in 1964, Mother of the Year in 1967, and Grandmother of the Year in 1989. A popular speaker, Dale worked with charities for abused and for mentally challenged children and had her own Trinity Broadcasting Network television program, "A Date With Dale." In 1992, the author suffered a heart attack, from which she quickly recovered. Four years later, though, she suffered a stroke that forced her to cut back on her previously busy and vibrant life. And in July 1998, her beloved husband, Roy, died. As she retells the stories of these sad events, Evans praises God's mercy and love:. "God has bestowed His gifts on me with a generous hand.... God is good in his benefits. I know, for he has cushioned the hardest moments of my life and given me strength to go on..."
Dale Evans Rogers (1912 - 2001)
Dale Evans, the Texas stenographer with the melodic voice who became the buckskin-fringed " Queen Of The West " and wife of "King of the Cowboys" Roy Rogers, lived an eventful life onscreen and off. Dale Evans was well known for many things, including her singing, acting, writing, love of children, Christian evangelism, and her famous husband Roy Rogers. Together with Roy she became a beloved American icon, a Western superstar heroine who endlessly entertained us on movie and television screens and as a singer. Though her personal life was frequently touched by tragedy, she remains an enduring symbol of love, faith in God, and courage.
Dale Evans: A Rose Of Texas By Any Name
Dale Evans was born in her grandparents home in Uvalde, Texas. The affidavit provided by her parents, Walter and Betty Sue Smith, as proof of her birth gave her date of birth as October 31, 1912 and her name at birth as Frances Octavia Smith. However, many years later when the young woman then known as Dale Evans requested a copy of her birth certificate from the Texas Bureau of Vital Statistics, her birth certificate gave her birth date as October 30, 1912 and her birth name as Lucille Wood Smith. Her mother insisted that the official birth certificate was incorrect, and the information on the affidavit (Frances Octavia Smith and October 31, 1912) has come to be recognized as her official name and date of birth.
When Frances was born her mother had been given an anesthesia called "twilight sleep" to help her through her labor. It not only knocked out her mother but it affected little Frances, too, and the newborn didn't cry or make a sound for three days. Frances would later say that after she came out from under the affects of the drug she made enough of a racket to let the world know she was ok, and that no one ever accused her of being the quiet type since then. Her father and mother lived on a farm owned by her grandfather, and her father and mother's brother ran a hardware store in Italy, Texas, about 40 miles south of Dallas.
Born To Be A Star
Looking back, Frances described herself as a born showoff that loved to dance around the house when she got a new dress and that would burst into song at the slightest provocation. By her own description she had six loving aunts that doted on her, and they taught her to read, recite, and sing before the age of five. An early memory is her gospel singing solo debut at the Baptist church in Italy.
When Frances was seven years old her father turned the farm back over to her grandfather, sold his interest in the hardware store, and moved the family to Osceola, Arkansas. He invested in a cotton farm there, but lost everything due to constant rains and boll weevils. Even so, Frances remembered her time there fondly, recalling the times she played with her little brother Hillman (three years her junior), the two children of tenant farmers on the place her father had rented, and her cousins. At age eight she learned to play the piano, which she loved, but became bored with scales and routine exercises, preferring to come up with her own compositions. She did well in school, moving from first grade to the third by the end of her first year, and skipping the seventh grade to go straight into the eighth.
Love, Marriage, Motherhood, And Divorce
Frances was impatient to grow up and wanted adventure. By her own description she knew she was too aggressive, smart, and extroverted for her own good. Her first public singing solo was at church singing "In The Garden" but she admits that at the time she much preferred jazz music. At the age of 11 the pressures of school and her other activities caused her to have a nervous breakdown and she had to spend the summer in bed recuperating, a period of idleness that was difficult for her.
By age 12 Frances was a freshman in high school, easily looking and acting older than her age. Too young to attend the public dances at the courthouse in Osceola, she talked her mother into chaperoning them just so she could go along with her as a way of getting to dance. It was at one of these dances that she met a tall, dark haired, eighteen-year old boy named Thomas Fox. When her parents realized she was dating the boy they forbid her to see him again, so she continued to see him secretly. When she was 14, Tom lied about their ages in order to get a marriage license and the two of them eloped and were married in the home of a Baptist minister.
In 1927, at age 15, Frances gave birth to Thomas Fox, Jr. while she and her husband were living in Memphis, Tennessee. Shortly thereafter they moved to Blytheville so Tom could work for his father, a dry cleaner, but the young marriage was under a lot of stress. On a spring day when the baby was six months old Tom's brother and his brother's wife took Frances to see her mother in Memphis for a weeklong visit over Easter. While she was there Frances received a letter from Tom saying they were too young to be married, that he needed his freedom, and that they should get a divorce. Frances, not yet 16 years old, was devastated. Her divorce was official from Thomas Fox in 1929 when she was 17 years old. After her husband left her Frances initially remained in Memphis. Her mother not only agreed to help raise baby Tom, she offered to adopt him. Frances, though, desperately wanted to keep the baby for her own. She quickly enrolled in business school and soon got a job at an insurance firm. Her heart, though, wasn't in her work, and instead of filling out and filing claim forms like she was supposed to be doing she spent much of the time at her desk writing short stories and music. One day, when she was trying to come up with words for a tune she had written, she began singing at her desk when her boss came in without her knowing. Instead of firing her, he complimented her singing, told her she was in the wrong business, and helped her get a job singing on the radio for a 15 minute program his insurance firm sponsored. The next Friday night Frances Fox made her radio debut singing "Mighty Like a Rose," which she dedicated to her baby son. After that evening the radio station offered her a weekly 30 minute spot, and she sang whatever listeners called in and requested. (Note: In the autumn of 1929, around her 17th birthday, she married August Wayne-Johns, described as an industrialist. John's objected to his wife working in show business, which led to a troublesome marriage and lengthy separations. They were divorced in 1935.)
From Memphis To Chicago To Texas
A few months later (1927) Frances moved to WMC radio, a bigger radio station in Memphis. She soon began to get invitations to sing at area luncheons and banquets, mostly getting paid in free meals. She was insanely happy when performing, and was thrilled to sing pretty much for anyone, anytime, anywhere. She soon moved on to the local CBS radio station, WREC, where she got her own half-hour show. She was in popular demand all over town and the teenager felt like she had arrived.
In spite of Frances' success singing, the pay was poor and she kept an office job during the day. Reasoning that if she could make it to the top of the market like she had in Memphis, she could make it to the top of a bigger market and she left with her son Tom for Chicago. It was the height of the Depression and she got a job as a file clerk for Goodyear making $25.00 per week, barely able to pay the rent. She was nineteen years old, (1930) working full time, taking care of her young son, and going to auditions in every spare moment she could manage. In Chicago, no one seemed interested in her as a singer. Suffering from malnutrition - she had been depriving herself in order to feed Tom - her health failed. She returned to her mother and the rest of her family in Texas where she spent two weeks in the hospital and three months recuperating on the family farm.
From Frances Fox To Dale Evans
It late 1934, When Frances felt better she and Tom set out for Louisville, Kentucky. In early 1935 she got what she later described as "her first job with really good pay" performing at radio station WHAS. At WHAS she started out using the name Marion Lee, but the station manager didn't like it and wanted to change her name to Dale Evans. Initially, Frances resisted the name change, stating that "Dale" sounded too much like a man's name. The station manager, Joe Eaton, talked her into accepting the name by telling her he chose it for a beautiful silent movie actress named Dale Winter. He also said that both "Dale" and "Evans" were good professional names because they were short, easily pronounced by announcers, and difficult to misspell. While still an unknown talent to most of the world, Dale Evans now had the name that would carry her into superstardom.
As a singer Dale Evans enjoyed success on the radio while in Louisville. She was thrilled, but she was troubled by nagging fears that she wasn't providing a safe and secure life for Tom. She went back to her family in Texas again, (1937) taking Tom to the family farm. In Texas, she loved that he was in a good school and attended church every Sunday. She was able to find a job as a band singer at WFAA radio in Dallas, coming home on the weekends to be with Tom and her family. She remarried in 1937 to a pianist and orchestral arranger she had met in Louisville, Robert Dale Butts. Her singing began to cultivate a strong following, and in August of 1938 she was on the cover "Rural Radio" magazine. She also traveled to sing with different orchestras and at different country clubs, including Meadowbrook Country Club outside of St. Louis, Missouri. Feeling better about herself, she once again set out to conquer Chicago.(1939)
Chicago, Round Two
This time, Chicago went well for Dale. Home of great music and talented bands. She was a success, and in addition to her radio job she found herself in demand at Chicago's finest hotels and nightclubs becoming a vocalist with a number of different "big bands" and was featured soloist in such notable hotels as the Blackstone (Balinese Room), the Sherman (Panther Room, along with jazz legend, Fats Waller), the Drake (Camellia Room) and the Chez Paree Supper Club. She auditioned for Anson Weeks, who hired her as his new female vocalist for his orchestra just as they began a major tour through the mid-west and to the West Coast. After a two-month stand at The Coconut Grove in Los Angeles, Dale left the Orchestra, returned to Chicago (1940) and was hired as staff singer for radio station WBBM, the local CBS affiliate that broadcast coast to coast. While there she was contacted numerous times by a Hollywood agent (Joe Rivkin ) (1941) who offered a screen test but she turned it down flat. She reasoned that she was in her late twenties and was too old to start a movie career, and that prospective agents and producers wouldn't appreciate that she had a son about to start junior high school. Besides, her big dream was to make it big as a singer, maybe all the way to Broadway.
She continued to ignore the offers, but at the advice of a friend who said a paid vacation to California wouldn't be such a bad thing, she finally gave in and mailed the agent some photos. She was quickly wired to report for a screen test
A Slow Start
When Dale Evans arrived in California (1941 @ age 29) the agent that had contacted her, Joe Rivkin, met her at the plane. He immediately told her to lie about her age and tell the casting director from Paramount Studios they were about to meet that she was 21 years old, not 29. What she couldn't lie about, though, was her ability as a dancer. When they met with the casting director he explained that the part he was considering her for was with Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire in "Holiday Inn, " and told her right up front she needed to be a terrific dancer. She admitted that she wasn't, and she never screen tested for the part.
Even though the casting director immediately lost interest in Dale for "Holiday Inn," he liked her well enough to ask her to do a kind of generic screen test in case she might be right for some other part. In the two weeks before her screen test she got outfitted in Paramount's wardrobe department and studied with a drama coach. During this time she also told Joe Rivkin that she had a 13 year old son. The agent fumed at the news and told her to send the boy away to school. Dale refused, and said if Tom could not join her in Hollywood she would forget about the screen test and return to Chicago. After giving it some thought Rivkin settled for insisting that she tell everyone that Tom was her little brother. Dale went along with the deception because she knew it was the only way for Tom to join her, but the lie about her son ate away at her until the truth came out several years later when Tom, after from graduation from high school, joined the Army. His induction papers listed Roy Rogers and Dale Evans as his parents. When the story got out, Republic tried to bury it, but Louella Parsons revealed the truth in one of her radio broadcasts.
After two weeks of preparing, Paramount was not impressed with her screen test. She failed to land the part, supposedly because she wasn't a good enough dancer (it went to Marjorie Reynolds instead). After the studio rejected her Joe Rivkin took the screen test to 20th Century-Fox who, unlike Paramount, liked what they saw. 20th-Century Fox offered Dale a one-year contract for a $400.00 per week salary, more than twice what she was making in Chicago. She took the offer and in 1941 she and Tom moved to California, along with her mother, to start what she hoped would be a movie career in big-budget Hollywood musicals. Her husband moved out to join them later.
The Early Movies
To prepare Dale for her first starring role 20th-Centery Fox insisted she spend her first week's salary getting temporary caps on her teeth, and then sent her to a spa where she lost 12 pounds. The studio then announced that Dale Evans would be starring in the musical "Campus In The Clouds." Dale was elated, but in December of 1941 World War II began and the movie was dropped. Instead of doing a movie, she did nearly 500 shows for the USO (United Service Organizations) and the Hollywood Victory Committee, entertaining servicemen in the military. She appeared in only two very small roles in movies for 20th- Century Fox (she played Hazel, an uncredited role in "Orchestra Wives" and Ruth in "Girl Trouble"), both released in 1942. After a year her contract was dropped.
Dale began to feel like a failure, and the lie about calling Tom her younger brother continued to eat away at her. Her agent Joe Rivkin had gone back into the army so she found another agent, Art Rush. He got her a job on the radio show "The Chase and Sanborn Hour" which showcased some of the biggest talent of the era. She did 43 weeks with the show, and credits the comedic genius of Edgar Bergen, the famous ventriloquist, with teaching her comedy skills she would use later on when working with Roy Rogers and Gabby Hayes.
Roy Rogers? No Thank You.
In 1943 Dale got another new agent, Danny Winkler. Art Rush had gotten very busy and she felt a bit neglected, and he was driving her crazy with his constant talk about Roy Rogers, a cowboy star that was one of his other clients. The same year, Republic had proclaimed its singing western star Roy Rogers– born Leonard Slye in Duck Run, Ohio–the "King of the Cowboys." Republic head Herbert Yates, inspired by the success of the stage musical Oklahoma!, decided that Rogers's next western should feature a more prominent role for a female costar. Art had even introduced Dale and Roy in 1941 on one of her tours entertaining the troops. She said later she thought he was attractive but very shy. After replacing Art with Danny Winkler, Winkler got Dale a one year contract with Republic Pictures, the same studio Roy Rogers happened to work for. Two weeks after signing her contract with Republic she starred in the country musical "Swing Your Partner." Right after that movie the studio wanted her to do a Western with their big star, Roy Rogers, but she refused. Both she and Danny Winkler thought that playing in a "sagebrush serial" was all wrong for her and Winkler got her out of it. She worked hard for Republic on other projects, making numerous pictures, and at the end of a year her contract was renewed.
"The Cowboy And The Senorita"
Dale was happy at Republic until Herbert Yates, the studio head, traveled to New York and saw the stage production of "Oklahoma!" The show inspired him to put a different spin on some of the Westerns his studio was making, and he wanted Westerns with more singing and a stronger female lead. He again wanted to cast Dale opposite the major star Roy Rogers, this time in "The Cowboy And The Senorita." Dale, still not wanting to do a Western and thinking they were not sophisticated enough for her, was pressured into accepting the role.
Dale Evans reported for work on "The Cowboy And The Senorita" having not ridden a horse since she was seven years old. She was assigned a horse that she would later describe as "with the disposition of a convict breaking out of prison." In a scene where she loped down a hill behind Roy Rogers, the temporary caps on her teeth that 20th-Century Fox had insisted she buy flew out of her mouth and were trampled by the horse behind her. At the bottom of the hill Roy commented that he had seen an awful lot of sky between her and her horse, and suggested she take a few riding lessons if she wanted to stay alive. She did, and Roy also gave her riding tips whenever he could.
In "The Cowboy And The Senorita" Dale played Ysobel Martinez and was credited underneath the star Roy Rogers, Roy's horse Trigger, and another actress named Mary Lee. The film, which was released in 1944, was a success, and so was Dale Evans. Cowboy And the Senorita would be the first of 28 films they made together. The Queen of the Westerns also had not one but two comic book series: the first for DC Comics beginning in the late '40's and then with Dell in the early '50's. Her strip was also featured in Dell's WESTERN ROUNDUP comic title. (Roy was in ROY ROGERS comics with Dell in the '40's and WESTERN ROUNDUP. He also had a newspaper strip in the '50's.)
"As Comfortable As An Old Shoe"
Roy Rogers and Dale Evans began making highly popular and successful movies together regularly. Riding alongside Roy, the established "King Of The Cowboys," she was on her way to superstardom. Dale often played the role of a woman with spunk and courage, wearing wonderfully feminine clothes but always willing to ride a horse or help out in a fight. On screen she and Roy could exude a warm, enviable friendship or exchange in feisty, teasing banter. Dale quickly grew fond of her constant companions on the movie sets, Roy Rogers and George "Gabby" Hayes. She formed an easy friendship with Roy, her shy leading man, later calling him "as comfortable as an old shoe" and saying in a letter to her father that Roy reminded her of her brother Hillman. She admired his love of children, and the compassion he showed to sick and handicapped ones on his constant visits to hospitals and shelters. When a Hollywood columnist broke the news that Dale Evans' little brother was actually her son, it wasn't news to Roy: Dale had felt comfortable enough with him to tell him the truth earlier.
In 1946, longing for success in sophisticated musicals instead of Westerns, Dale quit Republic Pictures and the highly successful team of Roy, Trigger, Gabby, and herself. She made a move to RKO studios to appear in a musical comedy, "Show Business Out West." The musical was never made, leaving Dale crushed. Shortly afterwards Republic Pictures enticed her back, promising that if she returned she wouldn't make only Westerns. She did return, and made "The Trespasser," released in 1947. The movie was a disappointment with the critics and at the box office, and Dale took off on a singing tour hoping the studio would find her something better. While singing in Atlantic City Dale noticed Roy Rogers and Art Rush in the crowd, and she and Roy got together and talked afterwards. They talked about Roy's wife, Arlene, who had given birth to their third child in October of 1946 and died eight days later; of Dale's divorce from her second husband, Dale Butts, which had ended in 1945 and about her son Tom, who had recently joined the Army. They talked long into the night, enjoying their old friendship.
The next day Roy tried to talk Dale into making more Westerns with him but she turned him down. The next movie she made for Republic was "Slippy McGee," but it failed the same as "The Trespasser." After that, Dale took Roy up on his offer and they began making Westerns together again. They were as wildly popular as before, with fans faithfully filling movie houses and also arenas during their personal appearances. Dale and Roy resumed their friendship and spent countless hours together making movies and appearances at rodeos, auto races, fairs, and more. As the months went by their friendship deepened and took on a new and different tone. In the fall of 1947 Roy proposed marriage to Dale while he was sitting on Trigger and waiting to be introduced at a rodeo in Chicago. He was introduced immediately afterwards, and Dale had to wait for her own introduction to ride into the arena after him to say "yes" only moments before they sang the National Anthem together.
Roy Rogers And Dale Evans, Husband And Wife
Dale Evans and Roy Rogers were married in the home of Bill and Alice Liken on the Liken's Flying L Ranch in Davis, Oklahoma on December 31, 1947. A snowstorm caused a lot of difficulty for the guests traveling to the wedding, and the minister was two hours late when the roads were closed and he had to finish his journey to the ranch on horseback. After the minister finally arrived Roy was heading down the stairs to get married when he discovered a trash can and some curtains on fire in an upstairs bedroom. He was late to the alter when he stopped to put the fire out with the help of his best man, Art Rush. In spite of a bumpy start, and Dale and Roy were happily married for more than 50 years, and became Rogers and Evans became probably the most popular husband-and-wife team in American entertainment history until Roy's death on July 6, 1998.
After the wedding Republic Pictures stopped casting Dale and Roy together for awhile, feeling that movie audiences wouldn't have an interest in a married couple starring opposite one another. Although the studio would later change its mind, for awhile Dale's main job was being a wife to Roy, and a mother to his three children from his marriage to Arlene: Cheryl, born in 1942; Linda, born in 1943; and Roy Jr., or "Dusty," born in 1946. Since Roy continued to work long hours Dale often felt alone and frightened in her new life. For years she had felt a pull to reexamine and cultivate her life as a Christian, but her devotion to her career had always won out over God.
The marriage proved a long and happy one. In the book "Happy Trails," Evans described how they worked together: "Roy is steady and dependable; I am hasty and impulsive. He is such a quiet fellow, and he has a way of taking life as it comes. No one has ever accused me of being shy or easygoing. But the differences between us were all to the good; we each had strengths that were good for the other one. When we were together, I felt balanced."
Despite their solid relationship, their marriage did have its trials. Evans, who withdrew from motion pictures after the wedding, found that Rogers' children resented her new role as their stepmother. She would later say that this turmoil, coupled with her sense of guilt for how she had raised her son Tom, left her "shaken, frightened, on edge and at a loss for how to handle it."
Her son, who through his own strong Christian faith had been a spiritual touchstone in her life, suggested that they attend a Sunday evening worship service. The title of the sermon, "The House That Is Built on a Rock," had a special resonance for Evans. A week later, after much crying and soul searching, she returned to the church and went forward to accept Jesus Christ into her life. Now, she finally answered God's call and experienced a spiritual rebirth and a renewed, stronger devotion to God.
While Dale's life still held all the challenges it did before, her newfound peace with God brought her new happiness in her life. She described her new life and love of God as contagious, for not too long afterwards, led only by Dale's example and without her prompting, Roy experienced a spiritual awakening of his own. He also began a new chapter in his life by devoting his life to God.
When Dale Evans married Roy Rogers on December 31, 1947 the newlyweds had four children between them. Dale had her son Tom, born in 1927 during her first marriage. At age 20, Tom was already an adult when Dale and Roy were married. Roy had three children with his wife Arlene but they were much younger: Adopted daughter Cheryl Darlene, born in 1942; Linda Lou, born in 1943; and 15 month old Roy Jr., or "Dusty," born in 1946.
The number of children in the Rogers household remained at three until Dale gave birth to Robin Elizabeth in 1950. After Robin's death in 1952, the couple was devastated but knew that they badly wanted more children. Within two months of Robin's death Roy and Dale adopted two more children into their home: A baby girl named Mary Doe or "Dodie," and a five-year old boy named John David, or "Sandy." Dodie was a healthy baby girl, but Sandy had a long history of extreme abuse and was also suffering the effects of long-term malnutrition.
In February of 1954 Dale and Roy added another daughter to their family. They were traveling through Great Britain for personal appearances and to encourage people to see Billy Graham who was soon scheduled to appear in London. While visiting an orphanage in Scotland they met Marion, or "Mimi," a 13 year-old girl that had lived in the orphanage since the age of two. Since Mimi's divorced parents were still alive the young girl was virtually impossible to adopt, but Dale and Roy managed to arrange for her to visit them in America. The visit was extended several times, and Mimi eventually became Dale and Roy's legal ward and a permanent member of their family.
The last child added to Roy and Dale's family was a little girl of mixed Korean and Puerto Rican heritage. A Korean war orphan, she was virtually un-adoptable in Korea because of her mixed heritage. Roy and Dale adopted her in 1955 when she was about three-and-a-half years old. They named her Deborah Lee, or Debbie for short.
Happiness And Heartbreak
At age 37, when Dale had been married to Roy for two years, she became pregnant. Previously doctors had told her she would not be able to conceive without surgery, so she and Roy were surprised but thrilled with the news. On August 26, 1950 Dale gave birth to a baby girl she and Roy named Robin Elizabeth. Their joy was quickly tempered with fear, however, when the newborn was diagnosed with Down's syndrome, a serious condition with numerous life-threatening complications. In the 1950s, doctors often advised parents of disabled babies to put them away in institutions or homes and as such, most institutions were pretty much filled to capacity at the time, their doctors nonetheless thought that Dale and Roy's celebrity would allow them to find an opening, and they suggested institutionalizing their baby daughter. The Rogers' refused. But Roy Rogers and Dale were determined to take her home and give her their love. It wasn't easy. Through countless surgeries and sleepless nights, the Rogers found themselves exhausted and worried-until they began to notice a change in their lives. Somehow the unexplainable and unexpected was happening-Robin was helping Roy and Dale draw closer to God and to each other.
Throughout the pain and joy of the next two years the family came together. The trials of a very ill child did not alienate the family from their newfound faith in God, but instead made it stronger. The resentments the older Rogers children had toward their new mother began to weaken and disappear as they united in love and concern for their littlest and weakest sister. Dale recounted later that it was Robin Elizabeth that furthered and strengthened her and Roy's belief in, and commitment to, Christianity.
Robin's brief life also persuaded them to do all they could to help others in similar circumstances. Robin Elizabeth Rogers died just days before her second birthday. Crushed and frustrated, Evans went back on the public appearance circuit with her husband. This time the crowds of young children who attended the events helped restore Evans and renewed her religious faith. In the years that followed, Evans and Rogers, who became a devout Christian shortly after Evans, offered public testimony to their conversion and beliefs.
Robin’s loss inspired her to write her bestseller Angel Unaware. Told from Robin's point of view in heaven, Angel Unaware is a touching story that has inspired millions of readers around the world. Dale felt that it was her job to deliver the messages taught to them by God through the help of their little girl. "Angel Unaware" was a short book, and a difficult one to find a publisher for. Once it was accepted by a publisher it was released in the spring on 1953 and quickly became a bestseller. Whether you are a parent of a special needs child or have experienced the loss of a loved one, Robin's story will bring you the peace and understanding you need in difficult times. The book was very influential in changing public perceptions of children born with developmental disabilities and served as a role model for many parents. After she wrote Angel Unaware, a group then known as the “Oklahoma County Council for Mentally Retarded Children” adopted its better-known name Dale Rogers Training Center in her honor. After her conversion to evangelical Christianity Evans became a popular speaker and tireless volunteer with Christian groups. Dale wrote an additional 28 religious and inspirational books; and as well was a prolific song writer for both the sectarian and non-sectarian audience.
More Family Heartache
As the Rogers family matured they had many happy years before they were again touched by tragedy, In 1964 Debbie, at the age of 12, was killed in a church bus accident. In late 1965 heartache hit them again when Sandy, at age 19, died an accidental death while serving in the military in Germany. Dale had already written the bestseller "Angel Unaware" after the death of her and Roy's daughter Robin, and she added to her successful career as an author by writing a book for Debbie ("Dearest Debbie") and for Sandy ("Salute To Sandy"). In each case, she donated the proceeds from the books to charity.
The Roy Rogers Show
Roy and Dale charmed audiences with their own radio show which aired on radio for nine years before making the move to television with "The Roy Rogers Show." The show debuted on December 30, 1951 and aired new episodes until 1957. There were 100 (some sources say 104) episodes of the show, all starring Roy Rogers and his horse Trigger, Dale Evans and her horse Buttermilk, Pat Brady and his Jeep Nellybelle, and Bullet The Wonder Dog. The show aired on Sunday evenings on the NBC network, and featured a Western theme with plenty of good guys, bad guys, and action on horseback. The show was as wildly popular as Roy and Dale's movies, and each episode was closed with the couple singing their theme song, "Happy Trails," which was written by Dale.
By this time they had appeared together in twenty-nine movies; their weekly radio show was a huge hit; and there were more than 2,000 Roy Rogers fan clubs around the world, including one in London with 50,000 members–the largest such club in the world.
Rogers and Evans attempted to revive their flagging popularity in 1962 with the short-lived "Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Show," but eventually retired to Apple Valley, California, and devoted themselves to the Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum there. (The museum moved to neighboring Victorville in 1976.) Evans continued to write books testifying to her Christian faith and appeared at numerous religious meetings. The Texas Press Association named her Texan of the Year in 1970, and she was named to the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in 1995. She and Rogers were elected to the Western Music Association Hall of Fame in 1989. She also had three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Dale soloed beginning in the early 80's as the host of a long running religious talk show, "A Date With Dale." for the Trinity Broadcast Network. Her final show-business appearance was as the host A Date with Dale in 1996.
Author, Songwriter, Christian
In addition to her careers as a singer and actress Dale Evans was also a successful author and songwriter. Including the three books she wrote for each of her deceased children, she wrote 28 books in all, either by herself or as a co-author. Most of her books were inspirational, based on her Christian faith and drawing on her own personal triumphs and tragedies. More of her titles include "In The Hands Of The Potter," "Rainbow on a Hard Trail," "Woman At The Well," "Up on Melody Mountain : An Inspirational Story of Peace & Joy Through Hardship," and an autobiography with her husband Roy Rogers, "Happy Trails, Our Life Story."
Dale was also a gifted and successful songwriter. Among many others she wrote the gospel standard and one of bestsellers in 1955, "The Bible Tells Me So," the top-selling "Aha, San Antone,” the Western classic "Hazy Mountains," I Wish I Had Never Met Sunshine and the theme song so identified with herself and Roy Rogers, "Happy Trails."
Throughout the latter part of her life Dale Evans was also a hard working evangelical Christian. She was a highly popular speaker and tireless volunteer for numerous Christian groups, and from 1996 until her death in 2001 she also starred in her own weekly television program on The Trinity Broadcast Network, "A Date With Dale." Subsequently translated into all the major languages and shown worldwide. Her devotion to God and spreading His word was one of the greatest accomplishments of her life
In 1967 Dale and Roy opened the Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum in a renovated bowling alley in Apple Valley, California. They filled the museum with highly personal mementos from both of their personal lives and their careers. The museum was very popular, and in 1976 they moved it to a bigger building in nearby Victorville, California. She and Roy often walked around the museum in the mornings before it opened to the public, enjoying the history of their lives.
The Happy Trails Children's Foundation carries on the work of legendary western entertainers, Roy & Dale spent their lives devoted to at risk and abused children. The foundation built the Cooper Home in Apple Valley, CA to provide a safe place for children who have been abused or neglected.
Dale battled numerous health obstacles in her later years including diabetes (which she was diagnosed with in 1964), a heart attack in 1992, and a stroke in 1996. Her beloved husband and partner of more than 50 years, Roy Rogers, passed away on July 6, 1998, at the age of 86. Dale herself passed away on February 7, 2001 at the age of 88 from congestive heart failure on February 7, 2001. She was buried next to Roy at Sunset Hills Memorial Park in Apple Valley, CA.
Note: In 2003 the Roy Rogers-Dale Evans museum was moved from Victorville, California to Branson, Missouri. Dale's horse Buttermilk was mounted after his death and can still be seen there, as can Roy's horse Trigger, and Bullet The Wonder Dog (who starred in "The Roy Rogers Show" and was also a Rogers family pet). The museum, a personal glimpse into to the lives of Dale, Roy, and their family, remains a popular attraction.
From Goodbye Dale, Tim Lasiuta Feb 15, 2001
Dale Evans Rogers died the way she lived, surrounded by her family. The family sung hymns, prayed, and were just the Rogers family. They celebrated their faith, and hope. And Dale joined her beloved Roy, Sandy, Robyn, and Debbie.
They wept, and were thankful for the Mom that she was. Many thousands of fans and friends wept along with the family. For she had become part of their families through her countless TV appearances, movies, books and personal appearances that she had made.
You could not meet Dale and be unchanged. God was with her in her writing, and in her words of encouragement. In her empathy, she was gifted by God, and she used her gifts for Jesus Christ wherever she went. Many were touched by her 'aura'. She was not some celebrity doing signings for her glory; she was there for the people. In the end, the people were there for her. Over 1100 people attended her public memorial, and many more mourned in their homes. There will never be another like her.
God has taken his angel home, and she is singing songs of praise, probably yodeling too! She is gone now, but will never be forgotten. I could write many words about Dale, but I'd rather relate what I have read written, and what I have heard. A letter that she had sent a fan: "Be happy for me!
Note: The letter was included by the family in her memorial service program
Dale Evans Rogers
Queen of the West October 31, 1912 – February 7, 2001
BE HAPPY FOR ME! - It was for this to glorify my God and Saviour: that I was born. Please do not grieve for me. REJOICE! - That my pilgrimage is over and I am now HOME. Praise to almighty God the miraculous work of Jesus Christ in my life - for the way He wonderfully saved my soul in the spring of 1948 - when He gave me a new life centered in Him - a rich cup of life with every experience He deemed necessary for my growth as a Christian and a child of God.
If at this time, the Lord would grant me one wish for you - one last wish, it would be this: that you experience and know the reality of Jesus Christ in your life. To know Him and to follow Him is to LIVE - now and for eternity. My Lord Jesus said” I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am, ye might be also; in My Father's House are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you."
BE HAPPY FOR ME! - I am now with my beloved Roy and until we meet again, may God abundantly bless you and keep you in the Light of His Matchless Love.
Birth: October 31, 1912, Uvalde, TX
Death: February 7, 2001, Apple Valley, California (congestive heart failure)
Name at birth: Frances Octavia Smith.
Professional names: Frances Fox, Mary Lee, Dale Evans, Dale Evans Rogers
Nickname: "Queen Of The West"
Parents: Walter and Betty Sue Smith
Siblings: A younger brother, Hillman, three years younger than Dale
Thomas Frederick Fox, 1927 - 1929 (divorced). One son.
August Wayne-Johns 1929 - 1935
Robert Dale Butts, 1937 - 1945 (some sources say 1946) (divorced). No children.
Roy Rogers, 1947 - 1998 (Roy's death). Eight children including Roy's three children from a previous marriage.
With husband Thomas Fox:
With husband Robert Butts: None
With husband Roy Rogers:
Awards / Honors
1953 - Golden Apple Award for Most Cooperative Actress. 1967 - California Mother of the Year. 1970 - The Texas Press Association’s Texan of the Year.
1976 - Inducted, along with Roy Rogers, into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
1983 - Golden Boot. The Golden Boot Awards honor actors, actresses, and others that have made significant contributions to Western movies and television. 1983 was the first year the awards were given, making Dale one of their first honorees. Among the other honorees that year was her husband, Roy Rogers.
1992 - Inducted into the Western Swing Hall of Fame. 1995 - Inducted into the Cowgirl Hall of Fame. 1995 - Cardinal Terence Cook Humanities Award.
2000 - Inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall Of Fame in Carthage, Texas. The Texas Country Music Hall Of Fame honors singers, songwriters, and others who were born in Texas and that have made outstanding contributions to country music.
2000 - Founder's Award. The Founder's Award is given by the Motion Picture and Television Fund Foundation. Two stars (for radio and television) on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Some sources say Dale has three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but we were unable to find information on the third star.
Before her first screen test Dale's agent told her to subtract seven years off her age and to introduce her son Tom (that she gave birth to in 1927 at age 15) as her younger brother. She experienced great anguish over the deception about Tom, and was relieved several years later when a Hollywood columnist discovered the truth.
Dale Evans wrote many popular and successful songs, including her and Roy's theme song "Happy Trails." There is a popular story that Dale wrote the song on the back of an envelope in 1950, less than an hour before she and Roy sang it on the radio for the first time. However, in the autobiography she wrote with Roy, "Happy Trails, Our Life Story," she writes that she wrote the song while at home one day. Either way, the song became an enduring classic for her and Roy.
In the spring of 1953 Dale's book "Angel Unaware" was released. The book was about the brief life of her and Roy's daughter, Robin Elizabeth, who was diagnosed with Down's syndrome at birth and died two days short of her second birthday. At a personal appearance in Madison Square Garden the fall after the book was released Dale and Roy noticed that the seats packed with children held more disabled and handicapped children than they had ever seen at one of their performances before. They were thrilled that the book had encouraged parents to bring their own special children out to the public event, something that wasn't often done at the time.
Happy trails to you
until we meet again.
Happy trails to you,
keep smilin' until then.
Who cares about the clouds
when we're together?
Just sing a song and
bring the sunny weather.
Happy trails to you
till we meet again.
Some trails are happy ones,
Others are blue.
It's the way you ride
the trail that counts.
Here's a happy one for you.
Happy trails to you
until we meet again.
Happy trails to you,
keep smilin' until then.
Who cares about the clouds
when we're together?
Just sing a song and
bring the sunny weather.
Happy trails to you
till we meet again.
-- Music and lyrics by Dale Evans "Happy Trails" lyrics copyright Paramount-Roy Rogers Music Co.
Words and music by Dale Evans Rogers
2 Timothy 3:16
All scripture is given by inspiration of God,
and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof,
for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
Have faith, hope and charity,
That's the way to live successfully.
How do I know, the Bible tells me so.
Do good to your enemies,
And the Blessed Lord you'll surely please,
How do I know, the Bible tells me so.
Don't worry 'bout tomorrow,
Just be real good today.
The Lord is right beside you,
He'll guide you all the way
Have faith, hope and charity,
That's the way to live successfully.
How do I know, the Bible tells me so!
The famous Dale Evans Rogers book above, is the first of twenty-eight books that Dale wrote.
1. Angel Unaware - 1953
2. My Spiritual Diary - 1955
3. Prayers for Children - 1956
4. To My Son, Faith in Our House - 1957
5. Christmas Is Always - 1958
6. No Two Ways About It - 1963
7. Dearest Debbie -1965
8. Time out Ladies - 1966
9. Salute to Sandy - 1967
10. God Has the Answers - 1969
11. The Woman at the Well - 1970
12. Dale: My Personal Picture Album - 1971
13. Cool It or Lose It - 1972
14. Where He Leads - 1974
15. Let Freedom Ring - 1975
16. Trials, Tears and Triumph - 1977
17. Hear the Children Crying: The Child Abuse Epidemic - 1978
18. Women - 1980
19. Happy Trails: Our Life Story 1981
20. Let Us Love - 1982
21. Grandparents Can - 1983
22. God in the Hard Times - 1984
23. The Home Stretch - 1986
24. Only One Star - 1988
25. In the Hands of the Potter - 1994
26. Say Yes to Tomorrow - 1994
27. Our Values: Stories of Wisdom - 1997
28. Rainbow on a Hard Trail -1999
The followin' are multible books and or writin's from Dale Evans Rogers. *Angel Unaware,
Dearest Debbie, Salute to Sandy: Three Best Sellers Complete in One Volume - 1953, 1965, 1967.
Finding the Way: Selections from the Writings of Dale Evans Rogers - 1973 *Life Is a Blessing: A
Heartfelt Collection of Three Bestselling Works Complete in One Volume - 2000.
**Roy Rogers has written in some of these books along with Dale Evans Rogers. Both Roy and Dale have written forewards in many other books
Angel Unaware by Dale Evans Rogers Written in a poignant, tender style, Angel Unaware is the compassionate story of Down's Syndrome child, Robin Elizabeth Rogers, daughter of Roy and Dale Evans Rogers. A timeless message of hope and faith for parents of Down's Syndrome children, as well as for those with other illnesses, this enduring classic has sold more than 500,000 copies.
Happy Trails: Our Life Story by Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Michael Stern The warmhearted, intimate story of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. From Roy's success with the Sons of the Pioneers to the couple's meeting, marriage, and rise to superstardom, "Happy Trails" describes Roy's and Dale's professional trials and triumphs, and tells movingly of their personal tragedies, including the deaths of three of their children.
Angel Unaware: A Touching Story of Love and Loss
Entertainers Roy and Dale Evans Rogers were thrilled when their little daughter Robin was born. But their excitement turned to concern when they were informed that Robin was born with Down's Syndrome and advised to "put her away." The Rogers ignored such talk and instead kept Robin, and she graced their home for two and a half years.
Woman at the Well by Dale Evans Rogers
Up on Melody Mountain by Betty Jean Robinson, Dale Evans Rogers (Foreword by), R W Schambach (Foreword by)
In Up on Melody Mountain, country gospel song writer and singer Betty Jean Robinson shares her life story, telling how she found peace and joy through Christ in the midst of hurt and trouble.
Dale Evans Rogers: Rainbow on a Hard Trail by Dale Evans Rogers Dale recounts how God's grace enabled her to find hope on less than happy trails, such as her rocky rise to stardom in Hollywood's golden era, the tragic deaths of three of her children, and recently, her grueling rehabilitation from her stroke. She also lovingly pays tribute to Roy Rogers, with whom she shared almost fifty-one years of marriage.
To my son: faith at our house. by Dale Evans Rogers, Thomas Frederick Fox
Christmas is always. by Dale Evans Rogers
Trials, Tears, and Triumph by Dale Evans Rogers
Let Freedom Ring! by Dale Evans Rogers
Where He Leads by Dale Evans Rogers
For a Cowboy Has to Sing: A Collection of Sixty Romantic Cowboy and Western Songs, Covering the Fifty-Year Golden Era of Popular Standards Between 1905 and 1957 by Jim Bob Tinsley, Roy Rogers (Foreword by), Dale Evans (Foreword by)
God in the Hard Times by Dale Evans Rogers
Time out, ladies! by Dale Evans.
My spiritual diary. by Dale Evans Rogers
Grandparents Can by Dale Evans Rogers
Hear the children crying by Dale Evans Rogers
In the Hands of the Potter: From Life's Fiercest Trials Come Reassuring Truths about God's... by Dale Evans Rogers, Les Stobbe With honesty and seasoned maturity, Dale Evans Rogers shares with readers the journey of her life. And though she writes of career crises, the birth of a child with Down's syndrome, the death of three children, and severe health problems, the tale she offers is one of triumph, not of tragedy, as she shows how she has trusted in the Master Potter
Dale; My Personal Picture Album by Dale Evans Rogers No two ways about it! by Dale Evans Rogers
Our Values: Stories and Wisdom by Dale Evans Rogers, Carole Carlson In this warmly-written book, Dale Evans calls for a return to such "outdated" values such as truth, discipline, patience, and courage. She refreshes our memory about the Christian faith of America's forefathers, and inspires us to fight for the same.
Children Won't Wait: Sharing the Precious Moments of Your Baby's Childhood by Helen M. Yong, Helen M. Young, Dale Evans Rogers (Foreword by)
The Home Stretch by Dale Evans Rogers
Let us love by Dale Evans Rogers
Woman by Dale Evans Rogers
Cool It or Lose It!: Dale Evans Rogers Raps with Youth by Dale Evans Rogers
Say Yes to Tomorrow by Dale Evans Rogers, Floyd W Thatcher
Writing in a warm, effervescent style, Dale Rogers offers fresh insights into familiar Bible stories and shares her own experiences to bring us into a new relationship with the Creator of all our tomorrows.
Salute to Sandy. by Dale Evans Rogers
Happy Trails by Roy Rogers, Dale Evans
Finding the Way: Selections from the Writings of Dale Evans Rogers more books like this by Dale Evans Rogers
Say Yes to Tommorrow by Dale Evans Rogers, Floyd W Thatcher
This celebrity author has faced more than her share of heartaches, but has survived by resisting negative thinking. Her admonition is to say "yes" to change, growth, joy, laughter, risk, difficulty, and friendship as antidotes to despair.
Life is a Blessing: Angel Unaware/Say Yes to Tomorrow/Our Values by Dale Evans Rogers
Three of Dale Evans Rogers' best-selling works are complete in one volume. In "Angel Unaware", Rogers tells the story of her daughter's short two-year life on earth as a Down's Syndrome child. In "Say Yes to Tomorrow" and "Our Values", Rogers draws from her life as a Christian wife, mother and speaker to illustrate her profound strength in turning
Happy trails : the story of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans by Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Carlton Stowers
Where He Leads by Dale Rogers Evans
In the hands of the potter by Dale Evans Rogers, Les Stobbe
God has the answers. Selections from No two ways about it! And, Time out, ladies!. by Dale Evans Rogers
The following songs are all written by Dale Evans Rogers:
My Heart is Down Texas Way
Rounding up a Dream
Just Sign on the Dotted Line
Aha San Antone
It's Saturday Night
Double R Bar
Snow on the Mountain
Down the Trail to San Antone
I'm Always Dreaming of San Angelo
I'm Gonna Lock You Out of My Heart
Just Say Your Prayers
Lo Dee Lo Li/We're Happy, My Pals and I (?)
Never Fall In Love With a Cowboy
Texas for Me
T for Texas
Why Don't You Kiss Me?
Chicki Wicki Choctaw
The Bible Tells Me So
Happy Birthday, Gentle Saviour
Home for Christmas
Let's Go To the Rodeo
Christmas is Always
Merry Christmas, My Darling
Build a Better Mousetrap
Get to Know the Lord
Prayer for My Country
Music of My Life
Prayer for America
Come On Home
Heart of the Country
Feeling Country Blue
Because of Him
He is Love
Are You Willing to Follow The Lord?
I Found it in Jesus
In His Arms
Jesus is My Closest Friend
Little Girl Lost
Where You Are
May the Road Rise Up
I Go to the Rock
Roy Rogers Had a Ranch
Dale co-wrote the following songs with other writers:
Will You Marry Me Mr. Laramie
"The Little Fat Man with a Big White Beard
Oh For Heaven's Sake
Wearing a Dream
I'm In Love with a Guy Who Flies in the Sky
Please Take Me Home This Moment
There's Only One You
I Wish I had Never Met Sunshine
His Hat Cost More Than Mine
Let Us Love
Songs Dale co-wrote with Roy:
My Heart Went That-A-Way
No Bed of Roses
Christmas is Always
Finding the Way
Trials, Tears, and Triumph