On the due date, a front-page photo showed the Singing Cowboy disembarking from his plane at the airport.
In reality a snowstorm had made the flight impossible and Gene drove in from Kansas City, Mo., just over three hundred miles. In addition to visiting Robert, Gene spent time at the home of eight-year-old Celle Weinberg, who was recovering from a blood disease.
A happy ending to the story came about a year later when, at Gene's invitation, a fully recovered Robert Klingbeil and his family attended the Gene Autry Show as Gene's guests. As so it went in every locality - untiring visits to children's hospitals, or to the homes of crippled kids unable to attend the show - unforgettable memories of faces turning from tears to smiles, of youngsters with a renewed will to live, meeting their hero personally, their dreams come true.
"If your youngster had a faith to live by he'll never wander off the trail", Gene would say. "As any cowhand can tell you, it's easier to keep 'em on a well-marked trail than to hunt for a maverick when he's wandered away. Even when you find 'em they don't always want to come back. It's like that with youngsters. Give them a trail to follow—something to guide them when problems come along—and you'll never have a maverick on your hands. Even when the grazing looks greener away from the path, if your kids are sure the path leads to something - even though they can't see the destination—they'll stick to it. It's all in believing—in having faith. I guess that's the biggest gift any parent can give a child—and it's more valuable than anything money can buy."
Gene Autry was not only America's Favorite Cowboy but Europe's favorite Cowboy too. In 1953 Gene took England by storm and received a bigger and more enthusiastic welcome than any other entertainer of the time. For four solid weeks, Gene packed the 8000-seat Empress Hall; the famous London Palladium only holds 2500 seats and wasn't big enough for Gene, and during the first week alone Gene played to over 60,000 people!
Newspapers and magazines from all over the world covered Gene's visit to London, his first since 1939, when he made his famous record-breaking tour of England, Scotland and Ireland. Grace Halsell, special correspondent for several Texas newspapers, flew to London to cover the show and was a welcome back stage visitor. Her reports and stories received prominent coverage in the Texas newspapers. WHEN THE ENGLISH GO WILD, IT'S EITHER THE QUEEN OR GENE AUTRY, blared the headline in the Amarillo Daily News of August 21st, with a big picture of Gene driving a London taxicab with Little Champion in the back seat, showing him the sights of London. COWBOY GENE AUTRY WOWS KIDS IN LONDON, blazed the Midlands Reporter-Telegram of August 13th; GENE AUTRY AND TROUPE OF TEXANS CAUSING SENSATION IN LONDON flashed the Austin Statesman of August 17th, with a picture of Gene inspecting the Queen's Guards in front of Buckingham Palace. BRITONS LOSE RESERVE, CHEER WILDLY WHEN GENE AUTRY ARRIVES IN LONDON, headlined the Waco News-Tribune of August 14th; GENE AUTRY AND HIS HORSE, CHAMPION, TAKE LONDON ALONG WITH THE CASS COUNTY BOYS, was the Houston Chronicle's banner line of August 17th, with a picture of Gene on Champion taking a bow in the ballroom of London's world famous swank Savoy Hotel.
Gene threw a big party for the international press at the Savoy Hotel, and 6500 people lined up three hours ahead of time to see Gene ride Champion into the lobby and then into the ballroom, and share sandwiches and champagne at the buffet with the guests.