About Lucille Wood Rogers (Smith)
Crowned "Queen of the Cowgirls," Dale Evans stands out as the most powerful female presence in cowboy culture throughout the 20th century. She starred with wholesome singing cowboy Roy Rogers in a series of 1940s westerns. The two were married in 1947 and from then on appeared as a popular pair in movies and on TV. Evans wrote the song that became their very popular theme: "Happy Trails to You." Evans's movie horse was Buttermilk, the counterpart to Rogers's horse Trigger.
She was born Lucille Wood Smith on October 31, 1912 in Uvalde, Texas. Her name was changed in infancy to Frances Octavia Smith. At age 14, she eloped with her high school sweetheart.
A widow and single parent at 17, she became a radio and nightclub songstress, married again and set out to try her luck in Hollywood. Few good parts came her way at the major studios (she is barely visible in 20th Century-Fox's Orchestra Wives , which featured an equally unbilled Jackie Gleason), so she had to settle for leading roles at Republic Studios, a "B" factory. She wasn't keen on westerns, but westerns were what she got, co-starring in 20 oaters with Republic's Number One singing cowboy, Roy Rogers. It wasn't until Rogers' first wife died in the late '40s that he and Evans realized that theirs was more than just a happy professional association. Rogers and Evans were married in 1947, assuming the honorary mantle of "King of the Cowboys and Queen of the West;" it was Evans who wrote the couple's enduring theme song, "Happy Trails to You."
The Rogers starred together in two TV series, a standard weekly western in the 1950s and an ABC variety show in 1962; in the early '80s, Evans soloed as host of a long-running syndicated religious talk show. Rogers and Evans' marriage was sorely tested by multiple tragedies; of Evans' six children, one was mentally retarded and only three survived past the age of 21. Evans was strengthened by the solidarity of her marriage and by her unwavering religious convictions. To help others to cope with anguish, she has written several uplifting books about the travails and triumphs of her life. She has also been quite active in her pet cause, the prevention of child abuse. In the mid-'90s Dale Evans was in the process of recovering from a serious illness, and resuming her religious and charitable activities.
For her contribution to radio, Dale Evans has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6638 Hollywood Blvd. She received a second star at 1737 Vine St. for her contribution to the television industry. In 1976, she was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. She ranked #34 on CMT's 40 Greatest Women in Country Music in 2002.
Cheryl Rogers-Barnett, a daughter of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, co-authored Cowboy Princess: Life with My Parents, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans with Frank Thompson.
In her exhibit at the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Dale Evans is quoted accordingly: "'Cowgirl' is an attitude really. A pioneer spirit, a special American brand of courage. The cowgirl faces life head-on, lives by her own lights, and makes no excuses. Cowgirls take stands; they speak up. They defend things they hold dear."