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Rex Allen 1920-1999
 


Country : Willcox, AZ
Profession : Actor
Date of birth : 1920-12-31
Date of death : 1999-12-17
Cause of Death : Car accident

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rex_allen

Rex Allen (December 31, 1920 – December 17, 1999) was an American actor, singer, and songwriter who is particularly known as the narrator in many Walt Disney nature and Western productions. For contributions to the recording industry,Rex Allen was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

 

Biography

Family and early life

Born Elvie Rex Allen to Horace E. Allen and Luella Faye Clark on a ranch in Mud Springs Canyon, forty miles from Willcox, Arizona, Rex Allen would grow up to become a popular entertainer known as The Arizona Cowboy. As a boy he played guitar and sang at local functions with his fiddle-playing father until high school graduation when he toured the southwest as a rodeo rider. He got his start in show business on the East Coast as a vaudeville singer then found work in Chicago as a performer on the WLS Radio program, National Barn Dance. In 1948 he signed with Mercury Records where he recorded a number of successful country music albums until 1952 when he switched to the Decca label where he would continue making records into the 1970s. He also recorded one album for Buena Vista (Disney, pictured) in the 1960s, although sources vary on the date of issue.

When singing cowboys such as Roy Rogers and Gene Autry were very much in vogue in American film, in 1949 Republic Pictures in Hollywood gave him a screen test and put him under contract. Beginning in 1950, Allen starred as himself in nineteen of Hollywood's western movies. One of the top-ten box office draws of the day, whose character was soon depicted in comic books, on screen Allen personified the clean cut, God-fearing American hero of the wild west who wore a white Stetson, loved his faithful horse named "Koko" and had a loyal buddy who shared his adventures. Allen's comic relief sidekick in first few pictures was Buddy Ebsen and then character actor, Slim Pickens.

"Don't Go Near the Indians"

One of Allen's most successful singles was "Don't Go Near the Indians," which reached the top 5 of Billboard magazine's Hot Country Singles chart in November 1962.

The song is a tale where a young man disobeys his father's advice stated in the title. When the father finds out that he had developed a relationship with a beautiful Indian maiden (named Nova Lee), he decides to reveal to his son what he had kept secret for so long: The man's biological son was killed by a Native American during a clash between the white man and a tribe, and in retaliation, he kidnapped the boy as a young baby and raised him as his son. The other secret: His son cannot marry Nova Lee because she's the boy's biological sister.

Career

Over his career, Rex Allen wrote and recorded many songs, a number of which were featured in his own films. Late in coming to the industry, his film career was relatively short as the popularity of westerns faded by the mid 1950s. He has the distinction of making the last singing western in 1954. As other cowboy stars made the transition to television, Allen tried too, cast as Dr. Bill Baxter for a half-hour weekly series called Frontier Doctor. In 1961 he was one of five rotating hosts for NBC-TV's Five Star Jubilee.

Allen was gifted with a rich, pleasant voice, ideally suited for narration and was able to find considerable work as a narrator in a variety of films especially for Walt Disney Pictures wildlife films and TV shows. The work earned him the nickname, "The Voice of the West." He also was the voice of the father on Disney's Carousel of Progress, which was presented at the 1964 World's Fair and is now at Walt Disney World. A 1993 renovation replaced Allen with Jean Shepherd as the voice of the father, but Allen was given a cameo as the grandfather in the final scene. In addition to Disney, Allen provided the narration for the 1973 Hanna-Barbera animated film Charlotte's Web. He was also the voice behind Purina Dog Chow commercials for many years. In his later years he also performed frequently with actor Pedro Gonzalez-Gonzalez.

For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Rex Allen was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6821 Hollywood Blvd. In 1983, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. In 1989 his life story was told in the book Rex Allen: "My Life" Sunrise to Sunset - The Arizona Cowboy written by Paula Simpson-Witt and Snuff Garrett.

Death

Rex Allen died in Tucson, Arizona, of a massive coronary, causing him to collapse in his driveway. He suffered additional injuries when his caretaker accidentally ran over him in the driveway of his home. Cremated, his ashes were scattered at Railroad Park in Willcox where most of his memorabilia is on display. A few months before his death, Allen gave an extensive interview on his days at WLS radio to announcer and producer Jeff Davis for the 75th Anniversary History of WLS Radio program, which was broadcast after Allen died. That segment of the program was dedicated to his memory.

His son, Rex Allen, Jr., is a successful singer. Allen was a cousin of the popular Gunsmoke cast member Glenn Strange, who played Sam Noonan, the Bartender.

 

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