Madness Continues with Autry Museum of Western Heritage
Before Saturday, my thoughts about Gene Autry were as
follows: a lesser-known B-movie actor who appeared in
westerns, who owned the California Angels, recorded 'Rudolph
the Red-Nosed Reindeer' and opened a museum in Griffith
missed about 98.9% of his career. Gene Autry was all those
things, yes. But he was also a smart, savvy entrepreneur
long before the name was fashionable. Not only 'America's
Favorite Singing Cowboy,' he was a big-time movie star in
the 1930's and 40's - right up there in popularity with
the likes of Mickey Rooney, Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy.
'The Gene Autry Show' was hugely popular on television in
the early 1950's. Autry produced other TV shows, and wrote,
co-wrote and performed hundreds of songs including 'Back
in the Saddle Again,' 'South of the Border' and 'Here Comes
1956 he retired from show business, but not business in
general. In the 1960's he bought television stations, radio
stations, and The California Angels baseball team. He has
5 stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame - one for each discipline.
Gene Autry was active in Southern California and business
until his death in 1998 at age 91.
Autry Museum of Western Heritage opened in 1988, and sits
in Griffith Park, at the intersection of I-5, and the 134
freeways, directly across from The Los Angeles Zoo. We've
driven by hundreds of times over the years, and occasionally,
I've said "We should go there sometime" - which
was met with low volume groans from both Megan and Dianne.
it intrigued me. I was aware that Walt Disney Imagineering
had helped in the design -- it just seemed like it could
was I wrong.
idea of Western Heritage is better in my imagination than
the actual museum.