"There are no more heroes ... that's it, the mold's ... been broke. Roy Rogers was the last of the real good guys, the guy in the white hat."
-- Ken Jackson, 44-year-old Roy Rogers fan
To baby-boomers who grew up watching Roy Rogers in the movies or on television each Saturday, he was the quintessential Western hero. The King of the Cowboys died Monday at 86.
In 87 musical westerns for Republic Pictures and 101 television segments, Rogers wore a white hat, rode a palomino horse and almost always wore a smile. He never started a fight but never backed down from one; and he always shot the gun out of the outlaw's hand. Rogers never blew the bad guy away. He also never kissed the lady before riding into the sunset.
Rogers was known for his criticism of contemporary Hollywood movies, especially westerns, because of their violence and sexually explicit scenes. He said, "There are some movies I wouldn't take Trigger to see."
Rogers, with his wife and co-star Dale Evans at his side, positively influenced a whole generation of young people by portraying the "Wild West" the way he thought it should have been. And the virtues the couple displayed on the screen were reflected in their real lives. Dale Evan's book, Angel Unaware, told the story of their retarded daughter, Robin, who died within months of her birth and how the Christian couple struggled with their grief. The Rogers adopted other children, and faced more heartache when two of them also died.
But Roy never lost his smile for long, and the couple's charitable work never wavered.
Long-time sidekick Pat Brady said, "(Roy) really believed in all those things -- truth, kindness, decency -- and he lived that way, as near as a man could."