Dale Evans was born in 1912 as Francs Octavia Smith and passed on in 2001. She became known as The Queen of the West!
Hailing from Texas, Dale had dreams of singing professionally, which eventually would lead her to Chicago. While young and still in Texas, Dale was married and gave birth to her son Tom. Her brief marriage to Tom’s father left her in a most difficult position in that, in the 1930’s, unmarried teenagers with new born children didn’t fit into an acceptable mold. However, her strength and determination from her youth and throughout her life strengthened everyone around her. This strength and vision did lead her to Chicago with her young son who had to be referred to as her brother, which Tom supported in order that his mother could pursue her dreams. While working in a clerical job, Dale found her way onto the radio and was “discovered.” Singing professionally in the big band era led her to an opportunity to go to Hollywood when her manager arranged an audition for her to star in a western, she felt it was less than desirable as she saw herself as a more sophisticated lady.
However, starring alongside Roy Rogers and Trigger (the only horse whoever got billing above the title, and everyone else in just about every film Roy made) would lead to a professional, loving and most exceptional life together. They were The King of the Cowboys and Queen of the West. Dale was the rock that held the family together in the most difficult times. She more than held her own throughout the films and television episodes they made together. A prolific song writer and author, Dale, in one of the most difficult periods of her life with Roy and the rest of their family, authored “Angel Unaware” after their young daughter Robin, born with Downs Syndrome, passed away. This book is still available and has multiple printings throughout the years, and is a comfort to many families that experience the loss of a young child.
As I write this short passage on Dale, I still live with a clear vision of dancing with her at The Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. She was a most amazing woman (and a great dancer) who had an impact on everyone that came in contact with her. Roy, Dale, Dusty and I were in New York City in 1995 for the opening of Robin’s Nest, a neo-natal intensive care unit built at Our Lady of Mercy Medical Center in the Bronx named for Roy and Dale’s daughter. While dancing together the evening of the gala, she whispered in my ear: “We love you. Whenever you’re standing at the edge of the cliff, never be afraid to jump. God will either catch you or teach you how to fly.” These words have and will stay with me forever, and I have passed them on to my four children. (Jeff Kramer, Producer of Happy Trails, the Real Life Adventures of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, the musical)