Posted October 23, 2017
The drama portion of Gene Autry's "Melody Ranch" radio show on Sunday, August 17, 1947 featured Gene's recitation of "The Code of the Cow Country" that is also referred to as "How to Be a Cowboy and a Man." This is the earliest presentation of what would become "Gene Autry's Cowboy Code." We've included the dialogue between Gene and "Homer" to understand the context of how poem is presented.
Author Holly George-Warren researched the origins of "Gene Autry's Cowboy Code" and wrote about it in her award winning biography "Public Cowboy No. 1: The Life and Times of Gene Autry." Here's an excerpt:
Gene's Ten Cowboy Commandments began to evolve from such Autry-related publicity as the item "Nine Cardinal Rules Govern Production of All Autry Films," which ran in the 1949 press book for Riders in the Sky. As early as August 1947, Gene had pronounced cowboy-code mandates during his Melody Ranch radio show dramas. Gene's PR team promoted his Cowboy Code, which was referred to in the 1948 Life magazine feature, and fan magazines began to publicize the rules as they evolved. Tenets promoting an ethical, moral, and patriotic lifestyle had an affinity to those of such youth organizations as the Boy Scouts, which developed similar doctrines. The rules were a natural progression of Gene's philosophies going back to his first Melody Ranch programs – and early pictures.
The music under the drama is performed by Carl Cotner and his orchestra.
© Autry Qualified Interest Trust and The Autry Foundation
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