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Saturday, 31 December 2016

Rex Allen born 31 December 1920


Rex Elvie Allen (December 31, 1920 – December 17, 1999) was an American film and television actor, singer and songwriter, known as "the Arizona Cowboy" and as the narrator of many Disney nature and Western productions. For contributions to the recording industry, Allen was honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. 

He was born in Willcox, Arizona, in 1921, and entered show business professionally when he won a state-wide talent contest in 1939, which led to a singing job on the radio. In 1946 he became a regular on the National Barn Dance, one of the top country-and-western radio shows in the country, and this led to a recording contract with Mercury and his own CBS radio show in Hollywood. Republic signed him in 1949, released his first film, The Arizona Cowboy, in 1950, and the following year Allen was the fifth biggest money- maker of western stars (after Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Tim Holt and Charles Starrett). From 1952 to 1954 he was third only to Rogers and Autry. 

His trick pony, Koko the Wonder Horse, made his debut in Allen's second film, The Hills of Oklahoma, and was to be in all his other films and later became an integral part of Allen's touring live act, billed as "The Miracle Horse of the Movies", until he died in 1968 at the age of 28. 
 
Allen's Republic films, 31 in five years, included Under Mexicali Stars (1950, the first in which he had Buddy Ebsen as a comic sidekick, and one of Allen's best roles, as a singing Treasury agent who catches a gang of smugglers who are using a helicopter to get stolen gold across the border), Rodeo King and the Senorita (1951, a remake of an earlier John Wayne film, The Cowboy and the Lady, and one of Allen's personal favourites), and Colorado Sundown (1952, with Slim Pickens replacing Ebsen). 

Like many of Allen's films, Colorado Sundown was directed by Republic's veteran William Witney, one of the great serial directors noted for his energetic style. "Witney was my favourite director," said Allen. "He could get more on the screen for a dollar than any director I've ever known." That skill was put to good use on Down Laredo Way (1953), made with a noticeably lower budget than the earlier films and a sign that the genre was fading. Allen's last western for Republic was The Phantom Stallion, made in 1954, the year the B western officially died. 
 
 

 
Allen already had a thriving record career, his hit records for the Mercury label including Streets of Laredo (1947), The Roving Kind (1951) and Crying in the Chapel (1953), and in 1958 he appeared in his first television series, Frontier Doctor. He also made personal appearances, did television commercials, and in 1961 was one of five stars who appeared on a rotating basis in the television show Five Star Jubilee, the others being Snooky Lanson, Tex Ritter, Jimmy Wakely and Carl Smith. (The show was never telecast in New York because of its primarily rural appeal.) 

In 1962 Allen narrated Walt Disney's live-action feature about the life of a wolf, The Legend of Lobo, "a tale of the old West told in story and song", for which he also provided music with the Sons of the Pioneers, and his warm approach was greatly admired. The critic Bosley Crowther commented, "The theme and the drama, what little of the latter there is, is carried in the narration, which cheerily endows the wolf with a great deal more charm and character than is evidenced on the screen", while the historian Leonard Maltin recently wrote: "Lobo's biggest asset, aside from the always first-rate raw footage, is the soundtrack . . . Allen, a former cowboy star, became a Disney favourite in the 1960s, and with good reason. His friendly, easy-going approach to the script brings a great deal of life to any subject." 

Allen ultimately narrated more than 80 Disney films and television shows, including The Incredible Journey (1963) and Charlie the Lonesome Cougar (1967), and in 1973 narrated the Hanna-Barbera animated feature Charlotte's Web. He also made guest appearances on television variety shows such as The Red Skelton Show. 

In the 1970s, though retired from film and television, he still led an active life. He owned a 20-acre ranch, the Diamond X, in Malibu Canyon, and spent over half the year on personal appearance tours - after Koko died, he would be accompanied by Koko junior, a chocolate-coloured stallion with a honey mane exactly like his famous sire.

Rex Allen died on December 17, 1999, two weeks before his 79th birthday, in Tucson, Arizona, after he sustained fatal injuries when his caregiver accidentally ran over him in the driveway. Cremated, his ashes were scattered at Railroad Park in Willcox where most of his memorabilia are on display. 


One of his children, Rex Allen Jnr, followed him into show business, and had a successful career as a Nashville recording artist. (Info mainly edited from an article by Tom Vallance @ the Independent.co.uk)


3 comments:

boppinbob said...

For “The Versatile Rex Allen” (2cd SET) go here:

Disc 1

http://www44.zippyshare.com/v/wBzFPmT3/file.html

1. TILL THE WELL GOES DRY
2. AFRAID
3. HOT TIME IN NEW ORLEANS TONIGHT
4. TEN MORE MILES TO GO
5. CRYING IN THE CHAPEL
6. BALLAD OF JOHN COLTER
7. FOGGY RIVER
8. TAKE IT BACK AND CHANGE IT FOR A BOY
9. A BROKEN DOWN MERRY GO ROUND
10. ALWAYS YOU
11. YOU DRIFTED
12. I THANK THE LORD
13. SPARROW IN THE TREETOP
14. YODELIN' CRAZY
15. WRECK OF THE JOHN B
16. DON'T TURN YOUR BACK ON ME
17. THE ROVING KIND
18. THE LAST CAROUSE
19. WRINGLE WRANGLE
20. BLUE DREAM
21. TAGALONG
22. TUCK ME TO SLEEP IN MY OLD ‘TUCKY HOME
23. I COULDN'T CARE LESS
24. RACK UP THE BALLS BOYS
25. NAGGIN'
26. LAZY RIVER
27. MR & MISSISSIPPI
28. LONELY LITTLE ROBIN
29. HONOLULU BOOGIE
30. TOO-LEE-ROLLUM

Disc 2

http://www33.zippyshare.com/v/e57qa39M/file.html

1. BLUE LIGHT WALTZ
2. WESTWARD HO THE WAGONS!
3. FARTHER ALONG
4. JAMBALAYA (On The Bayou)
5. THE MYSTERY OF HIS WAY
6. LITTLE WHITE HORSE
7. I KNOW THE REASON WHY
8. SOMEWHERE
9. ANGEL TO JOE
10. HE PLAYED A STEEL GUITAR
11. FLOWER OF SAN ANTONE
12. I'M LONELY MY DARLIN' (Green Grow The Lilacs)
13. STAYING YOUNG
14. MONEY, MARBLES AND CHALK
15. SOFTLY AND TENDERLY
16. BRINGING HOME THE BACON
17. IF GOD CAN FORGIVE YOU SO CAN I
18. I COULD CRY MY HEART OUT (Sometimes)
19. DRANGO
20. I'M LEARNING TO LIVE WITHOUT YOU
21. FOREVER AND EVER
22. YOU TOOK MY NAME (with Eva Summers)
23. THE LITTLE OLD CHURCH IN THE VALLEY
24. L-O-N-E-S-O-M-E LETTER BLUES
25. MORGEN (One More Sunrise)
26. TOMORROW'S JUST ANOTHER DAY TO CRY
27. RAGTIME MELODY
28. TO BE ALONE
29. HAWAIIAN COWBOY
30. LIGHT IN THE WINDOW

A big thank you to Jasmine Records.

Pudge said...

Yippie kai yah. Thanks Bob.

Dave said...

Thanks from me too.