For those who grew up on Roy Rogers, Dale Evans and of course, the famous palomino, Trigger, today marks an historic day as New York Auction House, Christie\’s began this morning to auction off most of the memorabilia which was once housed in the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum, now closed.
Included in the auction is such pieces as this toy sculpture of Roy and Trigger, found atop a General Store in the museum. Christie\’s estimates the selling price at $600-$800 U.S.
Or, this framed LIFE magazine, with Roy on a rearing Trigger dated July 12, 1943.
Classic car buffs may have a hankering for Roy\’s Bonnyville, which displays his own sense of incredibly wild style, as well as his hankering for . . . firearms. Turn signals and door handles were converted into guns, and silver dollars were embedded into the side walls and dash board. (Christie\’s wants you to know that “all firearms attached onto or inside of the \”Roy Rogers Bonneville\” have been rendered inoperable through alteration, modification and/or extensive chrome plating. They should no longer be considered firearms but decorative pieces. Furthermore, the cartridge belts are adorned with safe, non-functioning bullets made from real components.”) Good to know!
Legend has it Rogers had an eight-track machine installed under the seat, and kept it loaded with an eight-track of a cattle drive. He’d drive up to an intersection at a four-way stop, then project the sound of the eight-track through a bull horn he kept in the car. People nearby would hear this stampede going through and look around in confusion.
Bit of a practical joker, our Roy.
Of course, most likely to cause the greatest commotion at the auction is the original, stuffed Trigger. You might remember Roy\’s sidekick, the palomino Quarter Horse, Trigger. Rogers and Trigger spent the better part of two decades together and the movie star became indelibly attached to the horse. So much so, that when the horse died, one day short of his 31st birthday, Rogers was unable to \”put him in the ground,\” and amid some true controversy of the day, elected to have the horse stuffed and put on display at the Roy Rogers – Dale Evans Museum, then located in Victorville, California.
As written in the Christie\’s lot description:
“Entertaining the masses so thoroughly for over two decades, Roy Rogers and Trigger were one of America\’s most recognizable duos, becoming instant classics in people\’s eyes, hearts and imaginations. Trigger also reached legendary status in his own right, and is undeniably one of the most memorable horses that ever lived.”
Apparently, Roy never used spurs or a whip on Trigger, and the horse was trained to respond to simple movements and cues.
\”He seemed to know when people were watching him,\” Rogers once stated. “He recognized applause and ate it up like a ham!”
Trigger became known as one of the smartest horses in the history of show business, performing hundreds of \”tricks\” on request such as doing the hula, untying ropes, shooting a gun, knocking on doors and walking on his hindquarters.
Although Roy Rogers, Dale Evans and Trigger were a bit before my time, I\’m as familiar with them as if I had grown up watching them on the television. We\’ve simply heard, read and been told so much about them. They are an unforgettable timepiece in our western culture, signifying an era when boys and girls held such characters as their heroes, and dreamed of growing up to be just like Roy, and owning a horse just like Trigger.
It must be a bit sad for many, seeing this bit of western – albeit Hollywood history – disburse today.
See the collection and watch the live feed at Christie\’s.
And in the meantime, enjoy this look back at Roy Rogers and Trigger, starring in the movie, Son of Paleface.