The Roy Rogers Show
Happy Trails to you, until we meet again...
If you watched The Roy Rogers Show as a child, you probably have the rest of the show's theme song running through your head now. The Roy Rogers Show debuted on NBC on December 30, 1951, and ran there until 1957. After that, it appeared in reruns on CBS for another four years. Like Sky King, the show was a contemporary cowboy series set in the present day. It starred Roy Rogers and country singer Dale Evans, who lived in the fictional town of Mineral City in Paradise Valley.
Rogers, dubbed the "King of the Cowboys," was a popular B-movie Western film star of the 1940's when he made the move to TV. On the TV show, which Rogers produced, he played the owner of the Double R Bar Ranch, who continued the fight for law and order in the contemporary West that he had begun on the silver screen. Rogers was assisted by his real-life wife Dale Evans, who played the owner of the Eureka Cafe in town and Rogers' love interest, and Pat Brady, Roy's comic sidekick who drove around in his cantankerous jeep, named Nellybelle.
The show also featured several animal performers. There was Trigger, Roy's faithful golden palomino stallion, who had made more than 80 movies with him, and who could be seen galloping along at breakneck speed in the show's opening. Dale's horse was a beautiful buckskin named Buttermilk. Last but not least came Bullet The Wonder Dog, Roy's German Shepherd, who was actually a Rogers family pet in real life.
The plot lines of The Roy Rogers Show were simple and familiar: Roy or Dale would find out about someone who was in trouble and needed help, and they would help them. Roy's character was that of an easy-going singing cowboy who wasn't afraid to use his fists when necessary. There were always bad guys to catch, lots of chase scenes with horses, and a good fist-fight or two. Roy and Dale both packed six-shooters on their hips in order to be ready to shoot a gun out of a bad guy's hand (but never to kill or seriously wound anyone).
Though Roy and Dale played sweethearts on the show, there was no mushy stuff between them. Their relationship was one of mutual friendship, respect, and trust in one another. They both played nice, smart, competent people who worked together to uphold the law and the moral order. Each episode of the show closed with Roy and Dale singing the chorus to the couple's signature theme song, "Happy Trails," which was written by Dale.
In the 1950's, almost every kid in the country wanted to be like Roy Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy or Davy Crockett, which fueled a marketing bonanza of lunch boxes, toys, games, and other licensed products. I still have fond memories of the Dale Evans cowgirl outfit I wore one Halloween, with its fringed buckskin vest, felt circle skirt, white cowboy hat, white cowboy boots, and holster with toy six-shooter.
Roy Rogers fans might consider buying The Roy Rogers Collection - Classic TV Shows, a set of 16 DVD's containing 64 episodes of the show, or Roy Rogers: King of the Cowboys, Collector's Edition, a 2-disc set packaged in an embossed tin, featuring five of Rogers' movies and ten episodes of his TV show. Episodes of the TV show can also be seen on Roy Rogers with Dale Evans, Volumes 1-6 and Volumes 7-12.