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IN THOSE EARLY days of network TV, the two friendly rival singing cowboys made a very easy transition from the "B" Western movies to the TV screen. Gene Autry went to CBS in prime-time, while Roy made his niche in Saturday mornings on NBC. There was room for both in this live and let live world.
AS FOR THE differences between the two series, Roy & spouse, Dale Evans, held court in contemporary day "Mineral City", whereas Gene was operating in the Old West of no particular locale.
IT WAS EVIDENT that Autry was a sort of vagabond trouble shooter, wandering the range in search of those in need of his help. Gene was a sort of modern day Knight Errant of American frontier. His expertise was availed to many an inept town Marshall or sheriff, who just couldn't put some gang or other in the hoosegow without the aid of Gene, his prize Palomino Champion and comic relief stooge, Pat Buttram.
OWING HIS START in show biz to the same venue as Mr. Autry's, Country & Western music, Pat also came out of the cast of regulars of the Radio Show, THE NATIONAL BARN DANCE, from Station WLS in Chicago. His talents were much in evidence during the course of an episode. His antics as a sort of inept assistant to the big guy were so valued that they were given their own musical theme on the score.
THE STORIES WERE standard brains-heavy and grubby henchmen gangs doing any assortment of dirty deeds to the good citizens of various hamlets. At end of story, the baddies were all jailed and the towns people were vindicated. The local lawman couldn't have done it without Gene, Pat & Champion.
WE RECALL THAT Gene personally did a commercial for his sponsor, Wrigley's Doublemint Gum. "You can chew it while doing your home work.", says Mr. Autry.
THERE WAS ALSO an announcement that came at program's end. With an on screen shot of Gene riding Champion, who did a sort of bow, while the announcer said:
"Be sure to see Gene Autry and Champion in their latest
movie at your local theatre!"
WE THEN ASKED:
"Hey Ma, where's the Local Theatre?"
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