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Gail Davis
Real name: Betty Jeanne Grayson
1925 - 1997


Gail Davis was born in Arkansas.  She did heroine duty in about two dozen oaters during the final years of the B western, appearing with Allan Lane, Charles Starrett, Monte Hale, Roy Rogers and Tim Holt. And she also worked in fourteen of Gene Autry's Columbia westerns as well as Gene's television program.

Davis is best remembered for her portrayal of TV's Annie Oakley. The Oakley TVer initially ran from late 1953 - early 1957 and consisted of 81 half-hour shows that were lensed in B&W. Gail's helpers were Brad Johnson (as "Deputy Sheriff Lofty Craig") and Jimmie Hawkins (as "Tagg Oakley"). The program was one of many produced by Autry's Flying A production company.

Circa 1955 - 1959, Davis even had her own series of Annie Oakley and Tagg comics from Dell. All had photo covers showing Davis in her Annie Oakley costume.

Gail Davis passed away from brain cancer in 1997.

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Gail Davis: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0204625/

Jim Tipton's Find A Grave site has a photo of the marker for Davis at Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=6321

Gail's daughter Terrie had the official website for Gail Davis, TV's ANNIE OAKLEY (www.tvsannieoakley.com). But as of Summer, 2007, the website was no longer working and the domain name was for sale.

The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture Project is located at the Central Arkansas Library System in Little Rock. The project has a biography on Gail Davis: http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=2745

In 2004, Gail Davis was inducted into the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame: http://www.cowgirl.net/home/gail-davis-1925-1997/

In recognition of her western movie and television work, Gail Davis was presented with a Golden Boot at the 1994 awards ceremony. If you want more info, go to the Golden Boot Awards page on the Old Corral.

Boyd Magers' Western Clippings website has more info on Gail Davis: http://www.westernclippings.com/remember/annieoakley_doyouremember.shtml

The Grand Comics database website has cover images of Gail Davis' Dell and Gold Key Annie Oakley comics:
http://www.comics.org/series/1104/covers/
http://www.comics.org/series/18233/covers/


(Courtesy of Minard Coons)

Above, Gail Davis with Gene Autry in TEXANS NEVER CRY (Columbia, 1951).



(Courtesy of Bobby Copeland)

Above center is Gail Davis smiling and posing with Joan and Bobby Copeland at Knoxville, 1993.

(From Old Corral image collection)

Above - Gail Davis as TV's ANNIE OAKLEY with her horse "Target". Davis' double on the TV program was famed stunt woman Donna Hall, and it was Hall who was standing on the horse and shooting the six-gun in the opening of the program.






 


(From Old Corral image collection)
Fay McKenzie


Fay McKenzie's parents, Bob and Eva McKenzie, were Hollywood film folks, and Fay was born in either 1918 or 1920.

She began her movie career as a kid in 1920s silents, and around the age of 15, was the female lead in some extremely low budget oaters starring Wally Wales and Buddy Roosevelt.

Fay is best remembered for her work with Gene Autry at Republic, where she was the feminine interest in DOWN MEXICO WAY (Republic, 1941), SIERRA SUE (Republic, 1941), HOME IN WYOMIN' (Republic, 1942), HEART OF THE RIO GRANDE (Republic, 1942) and COWBOY SERENADE (Republic, 1942).  She was under a Term Players contract(s) at Republic Pictures from August, 1941 through May, 1943. Prior to her work with Gene - and billed as "Fay Shannon" - she was the female lead to Bob Baker in GHOST TOWN RIDERS (Universal, 1938).

McKenzie was married and divorced from movie toughguy Steve Cochran.  Fay's sister Ella was married to Billy Gilbert.


  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Fay McKenzie: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0571517/

Michael Fitzgerald did an interview with Fay and you can read it at Boyd Magers Western Clippings website: http://www.westernclippings.com/interview/faymckenzie_interview.shtml



(From Old Corral image collection)

On the left is Fay McKenzie's father, Robert B. 'Bob' McKenzie (1880-1949). His sound career amounted to nearly 200 films, and that includes about 85 westerns. He had a unique, gravely voice, often wore a suit, and portrayed a sheriff, a judge, a banker, etc. Some words and phrases that come to mind to describe his portrayals are: nervous, worried, blowhard ... and "sweatin' bullets".



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above - Wally Wales holds a very young Fay McKenzie in in a lobby card and crop/blowup from SUNDOWN TRAIL (William Pizor/Imperial, 1934). On the far left are Herman Hack and Fred Parker and on the far right is Jack Kirk.



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above from L-to-R are a young Fay McKenzie, Buddy Roosevelt, Frances Morris and George Chesebro in BOSS COWBOY (Superior, 1934).



(From Old Corral image collection)

Ken Maynard is pounding away on Charlie King while Fay McKenzie looks on in this lobby card from DEATH RIDES THE RANGE (Colony, 1940).



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above are Jean Porter (cowboy hat and buckskin jacket), heroine Fay McKenzie (white blouse & green scarf), Edith Fellows (blue blouse), Gene Autry and Smiley Burnette. The tall galoot in the back row center is 'Cactus Mack' McPeters and a youthful singer/songwriter Johnny Bond is on the far right. Lobby card from HEART OF THE RIO GRANDE (Republic, 1942) which is among the last batch of films that Autry did at Republic prior to entering World War II service.



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above from L-to-R are: Kermit Maynard, Smiley Burnette, Gene Autry, Fay McKenzie, Frank M. Thomas, Robert Homans, and Jack Kirk in a lobby card from SIERRA SUE (Republic, 1941). Frank M. Thomas was the father of Frankie Thomas, star of the cliffhanger TIM TYLER'S LUCK and TV's TOM CORBETT, SPACE CADET.






 


(From Old Corral image collection)
Elaine Riley


In the photo left are Tim Holt and Elaine Riley in RIDER FROM TUCSON (RKO, 1950).  The Ohio born Riley had a screen career which ran from the early 1940s to the early 1950s, and she did about 30 films during this period, including about a dozen westerns with Allan 'Rocky' Lane, William 'Hoppy' Boyd and Tim Holt.  She also appeared in some early TV oaters including THE RANGE RIDER and GENE AUTRY.

Elaine was married to Richard 'Chito' Martin, who is best remembered as Tim Holt's sidekick who in later life, became a successful insurance executive.  Martin passed away in 1994.

Boyd Magers reports that Elaine Riley is a close friend and lives in California.  She is hail and hardy, exercises every day, and is very active.


  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Elaine Riley: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0727026/

Elaine Riley's hometown was East Liverpool, Ohio and their Historical Society has info and photos on Elaine and her family: http://www.eastliverpoolhistoricalsociety.org/Elainrilact.htm



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