NEW YORK — Christie’s auction house recently held a sale of items from the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum collection.
The Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum closed their doors last year after over four decades of celebrating one of the most popular cowboys and cowgirls the world has ever known.
The auction with no reserve included more than 300 iconic lots, from suits by Nudie the Rodeo Tailor, saddles, personal photos, awards and the famous Nellybelle jeep from the 1950s TV show to, arguably, the most famous horse of all time, Trigger.
Trigger, an integral part of Rogers’ life both on and off the stage, died in 1965 at the Rogers ranch in Hidden Valley, Calif. Reluctant to put him in the ground, Rogers had Trigger preserved by a taxidermist, mounted in a rearing position on two legs, and displayed at the museum. Trigger was purchased at the auction by RFD-TV in Omaha, Neb. for $266,500.
Another item that sold at the auction was Rogers’ 1964 Pontiac Bonneville, which Nudie Cohn, Rogers’ personal tailor, had outfitted with hundreds of silver dollars, chrome-plated pistols, horseshoes, miniature horses and rifles, with some of these items acting as functional replacements for door handles, switches and controls. The car sold for $254,500 at the auction.
Other collectibles that sold were Rogers’ sunglasses, etched with his initials and a horse, for $2,750; Rogers’ first pair of cowboy boots, bronzed and mounted, for $7,500; and a belt buckle presented to Rogers and inscribed “King of the Cowboys In Appreciation of Outstanding Service from Sheriffs Relief Association of Los Angeles County 1946-1948,” for $18,750.
Rogers, nicknamed The King of the Cowboys, was born Leonard Franklin Slye and is an enduring icon of American culture. A two-time inductee into Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame, Roy Rogers, along with The Sons of the Pioneers, had a syndicated radio show and recorded 32 songs for Decca Records before going on to appear in more than 100 films and star in the television hit The Roy Rogers Show.
Evans, nicknamed Queen of the West, married Rogers in 1947 and starred alongside him in The Roy Rogers Show from 1951 to 1957. In addition to her successful TV shows, more than 30 films and some 200 songs, Evans wrote the well-known song Happy Trails.
The Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum in Branson, Mo. closed its legendary doors December 12, 2009 after more than four decades. Embraced by fans all over the world, the museum was deeply personal and displayed family photos dating back to Roy and Dale’s childhood.
It also included colorful costumes, parade saddles, memorabilia from the silver screen and television, artifacts from Roy’s real-life safari adventures, tributes to his friends and sidekicks, pictures from the early days of The Sons of the Pioneers and an assortment of artifacts meaningful to Roy and Dale.
Among the most popular exhibits were Roy’s trusty horse Trigger, his loyal dog Bullet and Dale’s buckskin horse, Buttermilk, all previously displayed for fans in the Branson Museum.