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(Courtesy of Minard Coons and Tracy Terhune)



Above - Chicago radio station WLS had the National Barn Dance, and their star performers were doing shows on the road.  On the far left, with the light colored suit and cowboy hat is Gene Autry.  Seated in the bottom row are Max Terhune, wearing suspenders and fanning a deck of cards. To his left and wearing the cowboy hat is Lester Alvin 'Smiley' Burnette. The two ladies wearing the vests and cowboy hats are Millie Good (Mildred Fern Good; 1913-1993) and Dolly Good (Dorothy Laverne Good; 1915-1967), and they billed themselves as "The Girls of the Golden West". Terhune was called "The Hoosier Mimic" because of his Indiana background along with the barnyard calls and bird whistles.

Tracy Terhune, Max Terhune's grandson, noted that "The WLS Barn Dance photo was taken in 1934.  On my grandfathers own copy, he hand wrote on the back that it was taken the day Gene got his telegram to come to Hollywood and listed the year, 1934." Autry and Burnette would head to California to begin work with Poverty Row producer Nat Levine at Mascot Pictures.  Gene and Smiley would appear in a pair of Ken Maynard starrers, the IN OLD SANTA FE (Mascot, 1934) feature and MYSTERY MOUNTAIN (Mascot, 1934) cliffhanger.  Soon after, Autry would be given the lead in Mascot's THE PHANTOM EMPIRE (Mascot, 1935) cliffhanger.




(From Old Corral image collection)

Above from L-to-R are Smiley Burnette, great rider Betsy King Ross, Gene Autry at the microphone, and Frankie Darro in producer Nat Levine's cliffhanger, THE PHANTOM EMPIRE (Mascot, 1935), Gene's first starring film. Autry had signed a contract with Levine and Mascot, and he came along in the mid 1930s deal that formed Republic Pictures with the combining of Mascot, Monogram, et al.



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above - Gene Autry does battle with one of the robots in a Chapter 7 lobby card from THE PHANTOM EMPIRE (Mascot, 1935).



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above are Gene and his most remembered sidekick, Lester Alvin 'Smiley' Burnette. Smiley appeared in most of Autry's Republic films, but then moved over to Columbia Pictures to assist Charles "Durango Kid" Starrett. After many with Starrett, Burnette re-teamed with Autry for his last batch of oaters which were released by Columbia Pictures.



(From Old Corral image collection)

After returning from World War II service, Autry made only a few pictures for Republic before he formed his own production company and moved to Columbia Pictures. He also began riding a mount called Champion Jr. Above is Autry on Champ Jr. with sidekick Sterling Holloway in a lobby card from TWILIGHT ON THE RIO GRANDE (Republic, 1947).



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above from L-to-R are Sterling Holloway, Lynne Roberts and Gene Autry in a lobby card from ROBIN HOOD OF TEXAS (Republic, 1947).



(Courtesy of Mary Jane Johnson Dodson and Minard Coons)

Above, Gene Autry's MELODY RANCH radio program ran on CBS from 1940 - 1956. There was a break - the program was off the air for a 2+ year period - from late Summer, 1943 through late September, 1945 - when Gene was in the Army Air Corps doing World War II duty. Celebrating the 12th Anniversary of that show are Autry and his singing group, The Cass County Boys, and from L-to-R are: Bert Dodson, Autry, Fred Martin and Jerry Scoggins.



(Courtesy of Carrie Miller and the Cook Family)

Gene Autry was one of many movie cowboys that did special appearances while they were on tour. Above is Gene with Robert Steenburgen (center) and Charles Cook, Jr. (right) during a visit to the Kosair Children's Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky, circa 1954. Charles Cook, Jr. is Carrie Miller's dad.



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