“Son, I think you may have something. Work hard and you may get somewhere.”
America’s Singing Cowboy Gene Autry was raised in Oklahoma and began working as a railroad telegrapher in the Ravia, Sapulpa, and Chelsea stations in Oklahoma at the age of 18. While on the job, one of his customers, Will Rogers, who heard him singing in the station and encouraged him to explore performing. In 1928 he went to work for KVOO Radio in Tulsa as “Oklahoma’s Yodeling Cowboy” and co-wrote “That Silver Haired Daddy of Mine,” the first million-selling gold record in history. Years later, his “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” sold over 25 million copies, making it the all-time bestselling single.
In 1934 Autry premiered in his first movie and, by 1937, was internationally recognized as the “King of the Cowboys.” After he served in the Army Air Corps during World War II, Autry worked in television, toured with his Autry Rodeo, and formed Autry Enterprises. He retired to Melody Ranch in 1960 and managed an empire of real estate, oil wells, radio, television, newspapers, theatres, recording firms, a baseball team, and the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum.
The southern Oklahoma town of Berwyn changed its name to Gene Autry in 1941 to recognize the world famous cowboy’s 1,500-acre ranch located near the town.
Autry's family moved to Achille, Oklahoma, when Gene was an infant and later settled in Ravia.