From Ohio History Central
Roy Rogers was a twentieth-century American singer and actor.
Roy Rogers was born Leonard Franklin Slye on November 5, 1911, in Cincinnati, Ohio. He spent his youth primarily in McDermott, Ohio, where he attended school and worked as a farm laborer. He dreamed of becoming either a physician or a dentist, but left high school before graduating. He took a job in a local shoe factory to help support his parents and siblings.
Rogers tired of factory work and moved to California in 1930. He worked at various jobs including harvesting peaches and driving dump trucks. He also began a career in country music. He joined several country and western bands, including the Hollywood Hillbillies, the Rocky Mountaineers, the Texas Outlaws, and the International Cowboys. In 1934, Rogers's first real musical success came when he formed the group the Sons of the Pioneers. Rogers changed his name from Leonard Slye to Dick Weston and finally to Roy Rogers, while singing with the Sons of the Pioneers. He chose Roy Rogers in honor of his childhood dentist, Roy Rodgers.
During the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, Roy Rogers was a household name. With his wife Dale Evans, his horse Trigger, and his dog Bullet, Rogers became one of the biggest stars of this era and one of the greatest country and western performers of all time. He starred in more than one hundred movies, composed music for several additional movies, made numerous guest appearances on television programs, and starred in the Roy Rogers Show on CBS Television from October 1951 to September 1964. At the peak of his popularity, Rogers received 78,852 fan letters in a single month. In 1980, the Country Music Hall of Fame inducted the Sons of the Pioneers in 1980 and Roy Rogers in 1988
Rogers was an active supporter of a number of causes. He was a strong supporter of the right to bear arms and the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. An adoptive father, Rogers also encouraged Americans to adopt children. Beginning in the 1960s, he also lent his name to Roy Rogers Restaurants. Rogers died on July 6, 1998. Every year, Portsmouth, Ohio hosts the Roy Rogers Festival.