Orvon Gene Autry was born September 29, 1907, on a small farm near Tioga, Texas. When Gene was an infant, the family moved to Achille, Oklahoma, and later moved to Ravia, Oklahoma which is located about 20 miles east of the present town of Gene Autry.
At age 16, he went to work as a baggage hauler at the depot. In return for his services, he received instruction in telegraphy form the station master, Mr.. Arthur Mayberry. Then as a vacation relief telegrapher on the Frisco Railroad, Gene filled in for regular operators from St. Louis to Southern Oklahoma.
Late one night in Chelsea, Oklahoma, with few messages to handle, he was singing and strumming a guitar, when Will Rogers, the cowboy philosopher, came in to wire his daily syndicated newspaper column. The humorist was impressed by the singing and encouraged the young telegrapher to go into show business.
With his railroad pass Autry went to New York with the idea of making phonograph records. There he was advised to go back home and get some radio experience. A short time later, he got a spot on KVOO, Tulsa, as "Oklahoma's Yodeling Cowboy".
A year later the Yodeling Cowboy returned to New York and signed a contract with American Record Corporation. He made many records over the next two years, mostly as a Jimmie Rodgers-style blue yodeler. In 1932 Gene Autry and Jimmy Long (a friend from railroad days) recorded "That Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine," the first gold record. By then Autry was a star on WLS radio in Chicago with "The Conqueror Record Hour" sponsored by Sears and "The National Barn Dance," broadcast across the country on NBC.
With radio, records (sold by the thousands from Sears catalogs), and personal appearances going for him, Gene Autry was a singing cowboy star.
With nearly a hundred movies, 16 years on CBS Radio, more than 600 records that sold millions (seven gold and two platinum), nearly a hundred television shows, and more than thirty years of personal appearances across the country and overseas, Gene Autry was one of America's most popular and enduring entertainers.