Did you know...
Gene Autry's & Jimmie Wilson's obituaries were nearly a page in length, featured in the Sapulpa Herald?
Gene Autry: "True-blue singing cowboy Gene Autry dead at 91" (Sapulpa Herald, Oct 4, 1998)
Will Rogers once heard a young Gene Autry strumming a guitar and singing in an Oklahoma telegraph office.
'You're good,' he said. 'Stick to it, young fellow, and you'll make something of yourself.'
Autry did much more than that, serenading generations of children as the nation's original singing cowboy and becoming a gentle moralist for millions of fans of the American West as he built a fortune in business.
Autry died at his home Friday after a long illness, three days after turning 91.
Beloved for his signature song, 'Back in the Saddle Again,' Autry popularized the musical western in 91 movies from the 1930s to the early '50s by playing the same character: a true-blue cowboy who always fought fair and loved his, Champion.
'He often considered himself the baby sitter of three generations of children' while they watched his movies on Saturday afternoons, said Alex Gordon who met Autry 52 years ago and became his director of licensing.
'And these weren't just bang-bang, shot 'em up Westerns. He always wanted to put a moral in the story.'
Autry's 'Cowboy Code' contained eight rules to live by. The first: 'The cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man or take unfair advantage.'
In fact, Autry did punch first in an out-of-character confrontation at a nightspot in Wisconsin in 1946. He gave a fan an autograph but lost his temper when the man scolded him for not providing more. Autry's blow led the man to file charges - and taught the star a lesson.
'I said right then, no matter how much a guy tries to get under my skin, that's the last time I'll let it get to the point where I'll hit someone,' he recalled.
Instead, Autry built his successful broadcasting business and founded baseball's California Angels as an American League franchise in 1961. He sold 25 percent of the team, now renamed Walt Disney Co. in 1996.
He hung up his performing spurs in 1956, but continued to won four radio stations, a Palm Springs hotel, and several other properties. In 1982, he sold Los Angels television station KTLA for $245 million.
He ranked for many years on the Forbes magazine list of the 400 richest Americans, before falling in 1995 to the magazine's 'near miss' category with an estimated net worth of $320 million.
'He knew the singing cowboy had pretty much died out by 1954 and that's when he moved on to other things,' said James Nottage, vice-president and chief curator of the Autry Museum of Western Heritage. 'He had incredible business savvy.'
Sapulpa Historical Society has new blog series to be posted every Friday.
The new blog series, "Then and Now," has 4 segments to teach Creek County history.
First Friday's segment: 'Sapulpa Showcase' shares an artifact-of-the-month in the museum.
Second Friday's segment: 'Historical Highlight' tells a little tidbit about the town's history.
Third Friday's segment: 'Society Sights' shows a then-and-now image of a local business.
Fourth Friday's segment: 'Museum Moments' features life in the museum world.
Catch Sapulpa’s new blog series “Then and Now” every Friday right here !