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They Knew What They Wanted—Dale Evans & Roy Rogers

I sat under a sycamore tree weighted down with mistletoe and had a heart-to-heart talk with Roy Rogers, handsome and athletic King of the Cowboys, while he was on location making Under California Skies for Republic, the last picture he’ll be doing until he’s had a real and needed rest. The mistletoe, a fungus growth on the giant sycamore, made us think of kisses—naturally—and kisses made us think of romance—naturally. And the first thing I knew, Roy was telling me about the plans he and Dale Evans had made for their marriage on the last day of the Old Year. He told, too, of his hopes for this bright New Year which, he’s praying, will mean renewed health and happiness for him.

If ever a fellow deserved health and happiness, it’s Roy. But King Roy is, at the moment, “plumb tuckered out.” This popular and indefatigable star has made ten pictures without a single break!

King Roy made a picturesque sight as he stretched against a boulder to talk. He had just done battle with the villain of the film, and his face was bruised and battered. Red gore, the kind that makeup artists sprinkle out of a bottle, smeared his ruggedly attractive face.

“The feller with the black bag and the pill bottles told me I should take two or three months’ rest.” Roy drawled with his easy grin which lights up his whole face.

“The doc said I’d have to lay off work for a spell. And that’s exactly what I aim to do for the first time since I meandered up to Sol Siegel in the dining room at Republic Studio back in 1937, and got my first job as a movie actor.”

“What, no vacation in ten years?”

“That’s my story, ma’am. Been too active getting my roots down so I could flourish and prosper. Takes a long time. You can be hustling along and it looks like you’re headin’ for all kinds o’ prosperity, when boom! No, ma’am, you can’t let go for a second or somebody’s got your spot. Leastways you can’t let go until you’ve moved ahead enough so you’ve got a breathin’ space to look around and figure where you want to go.’

I’m sure anyone would love the picturesque spot toward which King Roy’s glances are directed just now—the wildly beautiful ranch which he owns near Antelope Valley some sixty miles from the scene of his spectacular Hollywood triumphs. He’s looking forward to spending some time in those home diggings with his children and his lovely bride, Dale. Nerves have turned his tummy into a bundle of knots, and he’s going to have to untie these snarls, or he’ll not be able to enjoy the marvelous cooking for which Miss Evans is famous.

do it yourself . . .

Yes, Dale announced flatly that she intended to do all the cooking for the household. Neither she nor Roy has ever got accustomed to having servants around. “Reckon we both found out a long time ago,” Roy told me, “that if you want something done right, do it yourself—and if you can’t, why, then you’d better learn.”

Roy and Dale aren’t throwing their money around foolishly. Here’s a couple you’ll never see in the gay night spots of the Sunset Strip. Roy and Dale are a team of Western stars who really love and live the life they portray so realistically on the screen. They find their fun hunting and fishing together, or just riding horseback through the rough California mountain country. Time has been, you’ll remember, when the boys and girls who played heroic Western characters in celluloid were somewhat on the harum-scarum side in their private lives. I’m sure that one of the reasons why Roy got to be King of the Cowboys, and why he has maintained his high place for so long, is that Roy Rogers, the man, has clung to worthy ideals.

Let’s glance back for just a brief moment into the early lives of Roy and Dale. Years ago when he was Leonard Slye, working on a farm at Duck Run, Ohio—try to imagine a more rustic spot!—Dale was growing to girlhood on her father’s sheep ranch near Uvalde, Texas. Here were two youngsters born and brought up in the heart of America, and spurred on by the ambition to make something of themselves that is the essence of our American heritage.

The two never met until she was assigned as his leading woman in a Republic Western. By that time, both had won considerable fame and a more than fair measure of financial success, singing on the radio. They made twenty-four pictures together, and the public lost no time in taking them to its hearts as filmdom’s ideal outdoor sweethearts. Through the years, each came to admire and respect the other. Dale is a real whiz on a horse, a crack shot besides, but one thing you can bet your last dollar on is that she’s too smart and woman-wise ever to outride or outshoot Roy even if she could, which I doubt very much. She is dainty and feminine, every inch of her, and the top of her head just barely reaches to his shoulder. He can just about span her waist with his two hands.

Through all their professional association, Dale continued to look upon Roy in a little sister-big brother sort of way. But in the summer of 1947, both she and he had come to realize that there was something more than just friendship between them. Dale had learned from life a lesson she expressed like this: “I guess there’s no use trying to run away from destiny.”

She had her career in mind when she said that; not romance. Last summer, for the first time in her life, she ran away from her destiny—or tried, at any rate.

She went far away from Hollywood and Roy. She engaged in professional activities on her own. And she thought things out.

She and Roy and Arlene, Roy’s wife of ten years, had been good friends. The three of them had gone out together; Dale knew and loved the Rogers’ kids. Cheryl, who’s seven, and Linda Lou, who’s four, were crazy about Dale. “We love you,” they’d say, when she came to visit, and their parents would chuckle. “Good taste, those kids.”

After Arlene died in 1946, things more or less fell apart. There was the darling new baby, Dusty, but Roy couldn’t seem to pull himself together, even for the children’s sake. The blow was appalling. His nerves were shot; he was physically ill.

Dale stood by. She was a tower of strength, and Roy came to depend on her. She got to know Roy’s mother and father (they live on a chicken farm he bought them years ago) and they liked her. They’d brag about Roy to her. “Brand-new Buick the boy just gave us. Some bey.”

And she’d say yes, because she already knew he was some boy. Her parents met Roy, too. They’d come on from Uvalde, to visit, and they’d thought Roy was terrific.

So all Hollywood: wondered, when Dale went away. Dale had been married herself, before, and maybe it was a case of the burned child. She’d been divorced from composer Robert Butts in 1945; she wasn’t in any rush to marry again.

She came back to Hollywood eventually, but not to act with Roy in his Westerns—much as she loved playing the Western heroine—but in other films. Once again, Hollywood wondered about them—wondered; and suspected that they.cared, and then forgot.

But the fact was that, during all those months, Dale was finding out for sure and always that “there’s no use running away from destiny.” She and Roy made the announcement of their wedding date unexpectedly, and all their friends rejoiced, because all Hollywood loves to see an idyllic love story come true. Dale Evans was running quickly and joyously to meet her destiny.

the gossips behave . . .

The whole thing was carried off with dignity and a complete, refreshing lack of cheap cracks on the part of filmland’s pack of gossip columnists. Even now, Roy and Dale are extremely reticent, refusing pointblank to discuss themselves with most reporters.

As to the wedding itself, plans were not complete the day I talked with Roy, but he had called his tailor that morning to order his wedding suit—a conservative dark blue, but a cowboy costume, of course. Roy never would wear anything else since he carries the trademark of his range royalty into all his activities. He told me he had ordered also a specially-made pair of soft kidskin boots, cut lower than the ones he wears in pictures. Dale’s preference for her bridal costume was a suit of soft blue, her favorite color, and lovely with her light brown hair.

By the time you read this, of course, the wedding will be history. But both Roy and Dale were really up in the air the day he talked. He, for example, had about decided on a trip to Hawaii by steamer. Four long days at sea with nothing to do but relax. “That sure appeals to me,” he remarked. Anything that he wanted was okay with Dale. There was also some talk of a honeymoon visit to Sun Valley for the skiing.

a shipboard wedding? . . .

Just where the wedding should be solemnized also was a major problem. With the date set, they couldn’t make up their minds as to where, anyhow. One thing both insisted on—simplicity. A quiet ceremony in a friend’s home seemed a good idea. However, Roy was also toying with the notion of having the marriage performed on shipboard. “The gong sounds, and the announcement comes—‘all ashore that’s going ashore’—then everybody has to rush down the gangplank. Best way in the . world to break up a party,”

The ranch in Antelope Valley, where Roy plans to rest after the honeymoon, has three small houses on its 365 acres. He will not build a permanent home there until he and Dale have definitely decided that that’s the place where they want to settle down for good.

“It might turn out too cold in winter,” he explained. “Sometimes it blows up quite a bit of snow there and the temperature jiggles around the zero mark, because its high in the mountains. But “the kids love it. They’re living on the ranch now, and going to the little country school five miles away. If we find the climate agrees with all of us, we’ll build a place large enough to make living an honest-to- goodness pleasure.

“There’s a big lake on the property. Just- now it’s dried up, so I took a bulldozer to the place last week and dredged out ‘the lake bottom. Now we’ll have a real deep piece of water which I’ll stock with bass and blue gill. A great deal of the land can be cultivated, and it’s my idea to raise oats and other grains. I don’t like waste.”

The King will not be idle while. he’s taking a little time off from picture-making. He still has his circus and rodeo shows and has launched a merchandising deal of considerable magnitude. The company he recently established handles the licensing of Roy Rogers cowboy shirts, boots, hats, guns, belts, wallets, etc.

And anyhow, the fact is, resting isn’t quitting with Roy. It only means he’s slowing down a bit—four color pictures a year instead of nine or ten. He made Under California Skies contrary to doctor’s orders. But he had a reason. I got the lowdown from a member of the shooting crew up in the wilds of Placerita Canyon—and it’s an eloquent tip-off to why everybody’s crazy about the King.

“Roy wanted us all to have a month’s work just before Christmas,” a veteran juicer told me. “That’s the kind of guy the King is—and he’ll keep on bein’ King as long as he wants to as far as us guys are concerned. Yep, there’s gonna be a Queen now, too, and that’s all te the good. That’s sure all to the good.”





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