Roy Rogers, Dale Evans collection comes to the Autry

Mercer 3996

Courtesy of The Autry National Center

Silver Jubilee Official Souvenir Program, 1932-1957 Houston Fat Stock Show & Rodeo, February/March, 1957.

Earlier this month, the Autry National Center was fortunate enough to acquire the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Archive. The archive contains key artifacts that represent the duo’s entertainment career, spanning more than half a century. KPCC's Alex Cohen got a sneak preview of the collection and spoke with Marva Felchlin, Director of the Autry Library.

Among the collection are items from Roy and Dale’s long career in radio, film, television, music, and licensed merchandise.

The approximately 115 boxes include newspaper clippings, programs from the Rose Parade and the Roy Rogers Show, sheet music, promotional materials, licensed objects such as puzzles and coloring books, photographs, and business files.

Roy Rogers and Trigger novelty cut-out picture, 1950s
Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Archive
Museum of the American West, Autry National Center, T2010-28

Felchlin says the collection came in regular boxes with rusty paper clips and rotting rubber bands. Museum staff removed them from the boxes and placed everything in acid-free folders and boxes. "The next step will be for the archivist to come in and take a look at the collection and figure out a way to organize it," Felchlin says.

Select items will be digitally photographed. Once the archive has been completely processed, key items will be exhibited in a dedicated case in the museum’s Imagination Gallery.

Over the next few years, the archive will be used to help develop the Golden Age of Television Westerns exhibition at the Autry, which will examine the cultural and social history of television Westerns.

Fan letter to Dale Evans, June, 1943 from Everett A. Graves
Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Archive
Museum of the American West, Autry National Center, T2010-28

Artifacts relating to Roy and Dale from the museum’s permanent collection are currently on display in the Imagination Gallery and the museum lobby. The highlight of the collection is the one-of-a-kind plastic saddle Roy rode aboard his horse, Trigger, as Marshal of the 1952 Tournament of Roses Parade.

The gleaming white plastic saddle with corona and contrasting black trim is adorned with ten dozen hand painted yellow and red roses and sterling silver slotted berry conchos. The saddle was manufactured by All-Western Plastics of Lusk, Wyoming.

Roy liked plastic saddles, commenting that they were easy on the horse and rider, but they never caught on with the general public. Of the 65 saddles the company made, only 37 have been located, and Roy’s plastic Rose Parade saddle is the finest example known to exist. Roy Rogers toured the saddle across America, and it was featured prominently in the recently closed Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum in Branson, Missouri.

The saddle is presently on display along with Roy’s parade ribbons in the museum lobby in conjunction with the release of the United States Postal Service’s “Cowboys of the Silver Screen” stamp series.

Photograph of Roy Rogers with his plastic saddle, circa 1952
Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Archive
Museum of the American West, Autry National Center, T2010-28

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