Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Singing Cowboy: Monte Hale dies at 89

My Friends

 by Monte Hale


I've met a lot of people,

as I've traveled through life's race.


And everywhere I've been,

I try to catalogue in proper place.


It took three books to do it --

People I've known, acquaintances and friends.


Each one I put in proper place

as it appeals to me.


And the one that's marked "friends",

is the smallest of the three.


My friend book is that little bitty thin one,

because friends are so very rare.


I count it a happy privilege,

to put your name in there.

-from the official Monte Hale Website, http://montehale.com/aboutmonte.html

There is a special place in my heart (and I hope in heaven too) for singing cowboys.  On Sunday, Horse Opera star, Monte Hale died at age 89.

Funeral services were pending today for Monte Hale, a singing cowboy of the 1940s.  Hale, 89, died Sunday at his Studio City home following a lengthy  illness, according to Ydhira DeLeon at the Autry National Center. Hale's Walk of Fame star -- unveiled in 2004 -- is in front of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, next to one of his friend and fellow Republic Pictures singing cowboy, the late Gene Autry. http://www.contracostatimes.com/california/ci_12030179

It's not every cowboy hero who can say, after the demise of the B-westerns, that he went on to appear in movies with such actors as Marlon Brando, Robert Redford, Jane Fonda, Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean. Monte Hale, the last survivor of the screen's singing cowboys, could say that. He even taught James Dean the little rope trick with which Dean played around in a pivotal scene in GIANT.

But Hale would probably not say that. He does not even own up to having been a singing cowboy, and it is true that the songs diminished almost to the vanishing point as his 19 starring movies rolled on at Republic Pictures between 1946 and 1950. Still, it was his guitar-picking and singing that started him on the road to stardom, and gave him the distinction of being Republic's first B-western star to appear in color pictures, a year before even Roy Rogers began showing up in Trucolor productions. In fact, the first color appearance of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans came when they were guest stars in Monte's third movie. Eddie Dean had been there first (little PRC started him in the first of five Cinecolor productions in 1945 before relegating him to the more traditional black and white, compared with seven for Monte between 1946 and 1948).

Studio publicity noted that Hale was born on June 8, 1921, in San Angelo, Texas.  In reality, he was born in Ada, Oklahoma and his birth year is probably 1919.  Regardless, his accent was certainly right for westerns.  But Hale had no idea of becoming a star, and has confessed to feeling awkward in front of a camera. Adrian Booth, the lovely leading lady in his first seven pictures, has said it was during personal appearances when Monte could meet people face to face that his real winning personality would emerge.

From an article by Paul Dellinger on BWesterns.com for the full article, visit http://www.b-westerns.com/mhale1.htm

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