This article needs additional citations for verification . (October 2008) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Gene Autry and Davis in Toronto, circa 1956.
Betty Jeanne Grayson
October 5, 1925
Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S.
|Died||March 15, 1997 71) (aged|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Alma mater|| Harcum Junior College for Girls |
University of Texas at Austin
|Spouse(s)||(1) Bob Davis (1945–52)|
(2) Richard Pierce
(3) Carl Guerriero
Gail Davis (born Betty Jeanne Grayson, October 5, 1925 – March 15, 1997) was an American actress and singer, best known for her starring role as Annie Oakley in the 1950s television series Annie Oakley .
Annie Oakley was an American sharpshooter and exhibition shooter. Her talent first came to light when at age 15 she won a shooting match against traveling-show marksman Frank E. Butler, whom she later married. The couple joined Buffalo Bill's Wild West show a few years later. Oakley became a renowned international star, performing before royalty and heads of state.
Annie Oakley is an American Western television series that fictionalized the life of the famous sharpshooter Annie Oakley. Featuring actress Gail Davis in the title role, the weekly program ran from January 1954 to February 1957 in syndication. A total of 81 black-and-white episodes were produced, with each installment running 25 minutes in length. ABC aired daytime reruns of the series on Saturdays and Sundays from 1959 to 1960 and then again from 1964 to 1965.
The daughter of a small town physician, Davis was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, but was raised in McGehee, Arkansas until her family moved to Little Rock. [ when? ]
McGehee is a city in Desha County, Arkansas, United States. The population was 4,219 at the 2010 census.
She had been singing and dancing since childhood. After graduating from Little Rock High School, she studied at the Harcum Junior College for Girls in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, and then completed her education at the University of Texas at Austin.She had a younger sister, Shirley Ann Grayson (August 26, 1937 – February 23, 1971).
Harcum College is an associate degree-granting residential college in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. It was founded in 1915 and was the first college in Pennsylvania authorized to grant associate degrees.
Betty Jeanne and her husband, Bob Davis, moved to Hollywood to pursue a film career. She told an interviewer how she acquired her professional acting name. "I went under contract to MGM around 1946. They told me 'we can't have a Betty Davis, because of Bette Davis, and we can't have a Betty Grayson because of Kathryn Grayson'.... Then a guy in the casting department said 'how about Gail Davis?' So that's where it came from."
Ruth Elizabeth "Bette" Davis was an American actress of film, television and theater. With a career spanning 60 years and 100 acting credits, she is regarded as one of the greatest actresses in Hollywood history. She was noted for playing unsympathetic, sardonic characters, and was famous for her performances in a range of film genres, from contemporary crime melodramas to historical films, suspense horror, and occasional comedies, although her greatest successes were in romantic dramas. She was the first person to garner ten acting Academy Award nominations.
Zelma Kathryn Elisabeth Hedrick was an American actress and coloratura soprano.
In 1947, she made her motion picture debut in a comedy short film. She then appeared in minor roles in another four films, the first being The Romance of Rosy Ridge ,then landed a supporting role under star Roy Rogers in the 1948 The Far Frontier . From 1948 to 53, Davis appeared in 32 feature films, all but three of which were in the Western genre. Twenty of the Western films were with Gene Autry, produced by his company, Gene Autry Productions, released and distributed by Columbia Pictures,
The Romance of Rosy Ridge is a 1947 drama film, directed by Roy Rowland, about a rural community bitterly divided during the aftermath of the American Civil War. It stars Van Johnson, Thomas Mitchell, and Janet Leigh in her film debut. It was adapted from the novel of the same name by MacKinlay Kantor.
Roy Rogers was an American singer and actor. He was one of the most popular Western stars of his era. Known as the "King of the Cowboys", he appeared in over 100 films and numerous radio and television episodes of The Roy Rogers Show. In many of his films and television episodes, he appeared with his wife, Dale Evans; his golden palomino, Trigger; and his German shepherd, Bullet. His show was broadcast on radio for nine years and then on television from 1951 through 1957. His productions usually featured a sidekick, often Pat Brady, Andy Devine, George "Gabby" Hayes, or Smiley Burnette. In his later years, Rogers lent his name to the franchise chain of Roy Rogers Restaurants.
The Far Frontier is a 1948 American film western starring Roy Rogers.
In 1950, Davis began to guest star in television Westerns, notably in The Cisco Kid , in which she appeared six times in two roles, including that of a niece whose uncle is trying to stop her pending marriage to a gangster. She guest starred in 1950's episodes entitled "Buried Treasure," "Friend in Need" (3/1/1951) and "Spanish Gold" of The Lone Ranger and twice each on The Range Rider , The Adventures of Kit Carson and Death Valley Days .Beginning in September 1950, through September 1954, she appeared in 15 episodes of The Gene Autry Show , sponsored by Wrigley's Doublemint gum.
The Cisco Kid is a half-hour American Western television series starring Duncan Renaldo in the title role, the Cisco Kid, and Leo Carrillo as the jovial sidekick, Pancho. Cisco and Pancho were technically desperados, wanted for unspecified crimes, but instead viewed by the poor as Robin Hood figures who assisted the downtrodden when law enforcement officers proved corrupt or unwilling to help. It was also the first television series to be filmed in color, although few viewers saw it in color until the 1960s.
The Range Rider is an American Western television series that was first transmitted in syndication from 1951 to 1953. A single lost episode surfaced and was broadcast in 1959. The Range Rider was also broadcast on British television during the 1960s, and in Melbourne, Australia during the 1950s.
The Adventures of Kit Carson is an American Western television series that aired in syndication from August 1951 to November 1955, originally sponsored by Coca-Cola. It stars Bill Williams in the title role as frontier scout Christopher "Kit" Carson. Don Diamond co-starred as "El Toro", Carson's Mexican companion.
Gail Davis was the answer to a long-held dream of Autry -- providing Western programming with a star to whom girls could relate. He said: "Little boys have had their idols ... from the beginning of the picture business.... Why not give the girls a Western star of their own?"Davis became that star, but on television rather than in movies, as Autry originally envisioned.
Between 1954 and 1957, Davis starred in the Annie Oakley series which ran for 81 episodes. An adroit horseback rider, Davis also toured North America in Gene Autry's traveling rodeo. She went on to manage other celebrities.In 1961, she made a guest appearance on The Andy Griffith Show (Season 2, Episode 8, titled "The Perfect Female") as Thelma Lou's cousin.
She believed her success as Annie Oakley undermined other opportunities she might have had for other roles in the future. In 1982, she told a reporter "I tried to find other acting work, but I was so identified as Annie Oakley that directors would say, 'Gail, I'd like to hire you, but you re going to have to wait a few years, dye your hair and cut off your pigtails.' Directors just couldn't envision me in a sexy part or playing a heavy. I was always going to be Annie Oakley. So, as they say, I retired."
While Annie Oakley was popular on television, Davis made some recordings for Columbia and RCA Victor. Some were targeted toward children, and others were aimed at adults. However, Bob Leszczak wrote in his book, From Small Screen to Vinyl: A Guide to Television Stars Who Made Records, 1950-2000, "Even with two different musical avenues, none of the records caught on with the public."
Davis and her third husband, Carl Edward Guerriero, retired to the San Fernando Valley.During her retirement Davis made guest appearances at western memorabilia shows and film festivals. Her last public appearance was in 1994, when she received the Golden Boot Award from the Motion Picture and Television Fund.
While at the University of Texas at Austin in 1945, she met and married her first husband, Bob Davis, with whom she had a daughter, Terrie. Their marriage ended in divorce in 1952.On June 25, 1959, she married Richard Pierce, a recording executive, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Davis, then a widow, died of cancer in Los Angeles at age 71. She is interred there in Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery.
For her contribution to the television industry, Gail Davis has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6385 Hollywood Blvd.In 2004, she was inducted posthumously into the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas. Davis' exhibit at the Cowgirl Hall of Fame recalls her impact of young girls through the Annie Oakley series:
"Back then I knew the show was having a positive impact, especially on little girls. It wasn't until years later that I realized just how much. Little girls had turned into influential women, thanking my portrayal of Annie for showing them the way."
Davis was presented a Golden Boot Award in 1994 for her contributions to western movies.
Orvon Grover "Gene" Autry, nicknamed The Singing Cowboy, was an American singer, songwriter, actor, musician and rodeo performer who gained fame largely by singing in a crooning style on radio, in films, and on television for more than three decades beginning in the early 1930s. Autry was the owner of a television station, several radio stations in Southern California, and the Los Angeles/California/Anaheim Angels Major League Baseball team from 1961 to 1997.
Betty Hutton was an American stage, film, and television actress, comedian, dancer, and singer.
Dale Evans Rogers was an American actress, singer, and songwriter. She was the third wife of singing cowboy Roy Rogers.
Gloria Winters was an actress most remembered for having portrayed the well-mannered niece, Penny King, in the 1950s – 1960s American television series Sky King.
Ruby Rose Blevins, known professionally as Patsy Montana, was an American country music singer, songwriter and actress. Montana was the first female country performer to have a million-selling single with her signature song "I Want to Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart", and is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Western lifestyle or cowboy culture is the lifestyle, or behaviourisms, of, and resulting from the influence of, the attitudes, ethics and history of the American Western cowboy and cowgirl. In the present day these influences affect this sector of the population's choice of recreation, clothing, and consumption of goods. Today, the Western lifestyle is considered a subculture and includes strong influences from Native American and Mexican American culture.
The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame is located in Fort Worth, Texas, US. Established in 1975, it is dedicated to honoring women of the American West who have displayed extraordinary courage and pioneering fortitude. The museum is an educational resource with exhibits, a research library, and rare photography collection. It annually adds Honorees to its Hall of Fame.
Annie Get Your Gun is a 1950 American musical Technicolor comedy film loosely based on the life of sharpshooter Annie Oakley. The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer release, with music and lyrics by Irving Berlin and a screenplay by Sidney Sheldon based on the 1946 stage musical of the same name, was directed by George Sidney. Despite several production and casting problems, the film won the Academy Award for best score and received three other nominations. Star Betty Hutton was recognized with a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress.
James Clarence Wakely was an American actor, songwriter, country Western music vocalist, and one of the last singing cowboys. During the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, he released records, appeared in several B-Western movies with most of the major studios, appeared on radio and television and even had his own series of comic books. His duet singles with Margaret Whiting from 1949–51 produced a string of top seven hits, including 1949's number one hit on the US country charts and pop music charts, "Slippin' Around." Wakely owned two music publishing companies in later years and performed at the Grand Ole Opry until shortly before his death.
Mary June Storey was a Canadian-born American film actress who appeared in 45 films during the 1930s and 1940s. She was leading lady to cowboy singer Gene Autry in 10 films.
Bob Woodward was an American actor of film and television.
Melody Trail is a 1935 American Western film directed by Joseph Kane and starring Gene Autry, Ann Rutherford, and Smiley Burnette. Written by Sherman L. Lowe and Betty Burbridge, the film is about a singing cowboy who goes after the men who kidnapped the baby he should have been babysitting. The film features the songs "On the Melody Trail", "A Lone Cowboy on the Lone Prairie", and "Western Lullaby".
Nanette June Leslie was an American actress of film and television. Her longest-running role was as Martha McGivern in 37 episodes of the first season of The Californians. She was also known as Nan Coppage.
This Gene Autry filmography lists the films and television episodes starring the American singing cowboy Gene Autry.
Carol Hughes was an American actress. She is best known for her leading roles opposite Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, and for her role as Dale Arden in Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe (1940).
Flying A Productions was a primarily western television production company founded in 1950 by singer and motion picture star Gene Autry. The company offered four syndicated and three network programs until all seven of its series had halted production by 1957 or moved to another studio. Autry also had a Flying A Pictures company for B movies. By 1960, Autry's business interests included the California Angels baseball team.
On Top of Old Smoky is a 1953 American western film directed by George Archainbaud and starring Gene Autry and Gail Davis. It takes its title from the song "On Top of Old Smoky".