Dale Evans was born in Uvalde, Texas in 1912 as Lucille Wood Smith, but her name was changed to Frances Octavia Smith when she was just a baby. Evans would go on to be part of a Hollywood power couple with her longtime love, Roy Rogers. But it was a wild ride for the couple to find their way to each other.
The future star married for the first time when she was just 14 years old to Thomas Fox. She gave birth to a son the following year. Fox abandoned Evans shortly after and Evans began pursuing a singing career in Memphis, Tennessee as a single mother. As her budding music career grew, she took the stage name Dale Evans.
A lucrative career singing for radio stations led to a screen test with 20th Century-Fox opposite Bing Crosby in Holiday Inn. Though she didn't win the part, she secured herself a one year contract with the studio. Her big break in Hollywood came in 1943 when she was cast opposite John Wayne in In Old Oklahoma. The following year she was cast opposite her future husband, Roy Rogers, in The Cowboy and the Senorita.
Evans married two more times -- to August Wayne Johns and Dale Butts. Roy Rogers also married twice before Evans -- to Lucile Ascolese and Grace Arline Wilkins. Sadly, shortly after giving birth to Roy Jr., Grace passed away due to complications with her delivery. Evans had gotten a divorce the year before. In time, Rogers and Evans found love together.
The 'King of the Cowboys' and the 'Queen of the West'
The couple became known as the "King of the Cowboys" and "Queen of the West." They were married on New Year's Eve in 1947 at the Flying L Ranch in Oklahoma, the same location where they had filmed Home in Oklahoma. The couple had finally found forever love and would remain together until Rogers's death in 1998.
Dale and Roy only had one child together, Robin Elizabeth, who sadly passed away shortly after her second birthday. Her daughter's death had a profound impact on Evans and inspired her to write the book Angel Unaware. Evans went on to write more inspirational books and was very involved in her religious pursuits, regularly joining Billy Graham crusades with her husband. Evans and Rogers shared nine children between their multiple marriages, as well as four adopted children.
Rogers and Evans starred in eight films together, including Bells of Rosarita, Man From Oklahoma, Along the Navajo Trail, Sunset in El Dorado, Don't Fence Me In, Song of Arizona, and Rainbow Over Texas. Fans fell in love with the couple and couldn't get enough of their chemistry. Rogers riding his horse Trigger and Evans riding her horse Buttermilk made the perfect team on and off the screen.
Throughout the 1950s, the couple starred together in their successful television series, The Roy Rogers Show, where they continued their signature cowboy/cowgirl roles. Evans even wrote the show's theme song, "Happy Trails," which they performed together at the end of every program. The couple also starred in their own variety show in 1962, The Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Show.
The singing cowboy and his wife had thousands of fan clubs across the world during the peak of their careers. Outside of her time on screen, Evans was also a successful songwriter, composing the popular children's song "The Bible Tells Me So." The couple had successful solo music careers as well. Rogers was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and Evans released several religious albums.
Rogers passed away from congestive heart failure in Apple Valley, California. Three years later, his wife was buried next to him in Sunset Hills Memorial Park. They both have stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and were inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. We will always remember the impact Roy Rogers and Dale Evans had in Hollywood as well as the music industry.
This article was originally published on February 26, 2020.