The King of the Cowboys by Dennis Whittington


My Meeting with the “King of the Cowboys”

By: Dennis Whittington

A few months ago our friend, Steve Walsh, started this journalistic endeavor to help PD patients hold onto our fleeting memories and share some of the best ones with our friends. I wrote about my meeting with former President Ronald Reagan and actor, Jimmy Stewart. After I finished that article, however, I realized there was another former California movie star who I had interviewed, way back in 1972 – Leonard Franklin Slye! That’s right Leonard Franklin Slye, the “King of the Cowboys”. What? Who? Oh yeah, you may remember him by his stage name – Roy Rogers.

Did you know that Leonard/Roy was born just north of Louisville in Cincinnati? The family liked Cincinnati, but their house stood right in the path of second base when the city built Riverfront Stadium. So, it was off to California and the bright lights of Hollywood.

Like most kids my age, I became a big fan of Roy Rogers’ when he made it to the silver screen and Saturday morning’s Roy Rogers Show. I continued following his career, but by the mid-60’s Roy became less “cool.” After his career faltered, however, Roy did get his come-back chance in 1975 with a movie called Mackintosh and T.J. My assignment editor on the newspaper where I worked decided to send me out to capture the story about Roy, who was visiting western North Carolina to promote this film. I had to drive about 100 miles for my one-on-one interview with Roy. It was worth it. When I met Roy, he lived up to my expectations. While older and a bit weathered, he was still a real cowpoke, dressed immaculately in his double-creased white cowboy hat and flowing kerchiefs.

Roy Rogers starred in 91 motion pictures and 102 half-hour television films. Do you remember who was married to Roy Rogers? Do you remember his horse’s name? Do you remember the theme song of the Saturday morning TV show? I suspect if you remember any of these, then you too are a Roy Roger’s fan.

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