Edit
Smiley Burnette Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (2) | Spouse (1) | Trivia (10) | Salary (6)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 18 March 1911Summum, Illinois, USA
Date of Death 16 February 1967Encino, Los Angeles, California, USA  (leukemia)
Birth NameLester Alvin Burnette
Nickname Ole Frog

Mini Bio (2)

Smiley worked on a local radio station and in Vaudeville after high school. Always interested in music, he was friends with Gene Autry and worked with him on the radio show "The National Barn Dance". When Westerns became a big draw with sound, the studios were always on the lookout for singing cowboys. In 1934, both Gene and Smiley made their debuts in In Old Santa Fe (1934). Smiley became well known as Gene's plump sidekick Frog Milhouse, and they worked together in over 80 Westerns. After Gene, Smiley provided the comic relief for other cowboy stars at Republic such as Sunset Carson and Charles Starrett (The Durango Kid). He also provided a lot of the music as he wrote over 300 western songs and sang quite a few in the films. Smiley was the first supporting actor to regularly appear on the Top Ten Western money-maker list. He became well known for his white horse with the black circle around one eye. When he used a team of white horses, as when he was 'Spec Specialist' Smiley Burnette, each white horse had one black circle around one eye. When the 'B' movie Western reign ended in 1953, Smiley retired from the screen. He made occasional appearances on television including being a regular on the music show "Ozark Jubilee (1959)". His last performance was as railroad engineer Charlie Pratt on Petticoat Junction (1963) from 1963-67.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Tony Fontana <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

In his later years, he was a part-time resident of Springfield, Missouri. In Springfield, he taped a radio program for RadiOzark Enterprises, and frequently appeared on the television program Jubilee USA. During one of his stays, he had his name legally changed to Smiley.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Anonymous

Spouse (1)

Dallas McDonald (c. 1940 - 16 February 1967) (his death)

Trivia (10)

He began singing as a child and played 100 instruments proficiently, yet never learned to read or write music.
He and his wife adopted four children: Steven Burnett, Linda Burnette, Brian Burnette and Carolyn Burnette. Steven's daughter is Liz Burnette.
He did a great deal of traveling, and once received an award from the National Safety Council for having worn out 27 cars without being involved in a single accident.
He was posthumously awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6125 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on May 22, 1986.
Smiley Burnette passed away on February 16, 1967, a month away from what would have been his 56th birthday on March 18.
Following his death, he was interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills) in Los Angeles, California.
Posthumously inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1971 and the Western Music Association in 1998.
On May 5, 2012, he was posthumously inducted into the Cowtown Society of Western Music Hall of Fame as a Hero.
In the 1960s he owned a drive-in restaurant in Escondido, CA, called "The Checkered Shirt".
A part of his shtick was to talk and sing in a "frog" voice. In a number of his early westerns, he would play characters named "Frog Millhouse".

Salary (6)

In Old Santa Fe (1934) $75 per week
Mystery Mountain (1934) $75 per week
Melody Trail (1935) $50 per week
The Singing Vagabond (1935) $50 per week
The Oregon Trail (1936) $50 per week
Comin' 'Round the Mountain (1936) $50 per week

See also

Other Works | Publicity Listings | Official Sites | Contact Info

Contribute to This Page