Public Cowboy No. 1

Public Cowboy No. 1 : The Life and Times of Gene Autry


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The only performer to earn 5 stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Gene Autry was the singing cowboy king of American entertainment. Now, in Public Cowboy No.1, Holly George-Warren offers the first serious biography of this singular individual, in a fascinating narrative that traces Autry's climb from small-town farm boy to multimillionaire. Here for the first time Autry the legend becomes a flesh-and-blood man--with all the passions, triumphs, and tragedies of a flawed icon. George-Warren recounts stories never before told, including revelations about Autry's impoverished boyhood, his adventures as an up-and-coming singer, and the impact his unbelievable success had on his personal life. The book provides equally colorful details of Autry's lengthy radio and recording career, which included such classics as "Back in the Saddle Again" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"; his movie career, where he breathed new life into the Western genre; and his role in early television. And along the way, we see how he invested shrewdly in radio, real-estate, and television, becoming the only entertainer listed among 1990's Fortune 400. Based on exclusive access to Gene Autry's personal papers, as well as interviews with more than 100 relatives, employees, colleagues, and friends, this engaging biography brings to life a major Hollywood star--a man who, more than anyone else, put Western music and style on the American cultural map.

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Product details

  • Paperback | 406 pages
  • 154.94 x 233.68 x 33.02mm | 771.1g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195372670
  • 9780195372670
  • 1,764,630

Review quote

"A thorough, no-nonsense account of a singular life, and the prolific music writer George-Warren employs a brisk, assured style that hews to the Cowboy Code."--The Atlantic "At last, in the centennial year of Gene's birth, Holly George-Warren gives us Public Cowboy No. 1, his first serious, full-length biography. There isn't likely to be another for a long time, so it's fortunate that Ms. George-Warren's is a good one."--Dallas Morning News "An appealing, bittersweet success story."--Jack Mrkowitz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review "The book is well-researched and written with a careful eye to history and a keen appreciation of music. And it is -- appropriately, I think -- tinged with a bit of George-Warren's genuine appreciation of Autry the artist and star but even more of Autry the person, the one she got to know before his death in 1998. Biographers don't always meet their subjects, obviously, and if they do, the results may be disastrous -- or beneficial. In George-Warren's case, it proved to be providential."--Country Music Television website ( "George-Warren does an impeccable job of presenting the facts of Autry's life and career detailing his early attempts at making records through his most successful periods. For fans of the singing cowboy, country music or general pop culture this book is highly recommended."--Midwest Book Review "Public Cowboy No. 1 increases our understanding of the American cowboy myth, perpetuated by those movies known as westerns. George-Warren creates a realistic, factual portrait of Autry, the star and the man."--Rick Tamble, The Tennessean "The definitive portrait of Gene Autry."--John Beifuss, Commercial Appeal

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