Here is a review from HARP Magazine for the book Public Cowboy No. 1: The Life and Times of Gene Autry by Holly George-Warren.
Public Cowboy No. 1: The Life and Times of
By Jeff Tamarkin
June 4, 2007
Most kids today have probably never seen a cowboy movie or heard a cowboy tune, and the word itself has of late taken on a negative connotation, thanks in no small part to a certain trigger-happy Texan. But for a few decades in the mid-20th century, there was no greater hero than Gene Autry (1907-1998), the king of the singing cowboys.
On the surface there wasn't much to him—wearing spiffy Western duds and a big ol' white hat, toting a guitar and riding his trusty horse Champion, he righted wrongs, sang some tunes and set a good example. But the persona he created made Autry a major star of screen, recordings, radio and later TV, and he rose from poverty to become an incredibly rich man.
Holly George-Warren's meticulously researched, engrossing bioshe had access to Autry's personal papers and interviewed more than 100 of his intimatestakes the larger-than-life Autry down to human level. But don't expect a tell-all: Despite his rocky childhood, a taste for alcohol and "dalliances with some of his female co-stars" while married, Autry's all-American success story reveals little that would merit even a column inch in today's gossip rags. Even when he received a draft notice at the peak of his career, he shrugged it offif the farm kids and coal miners had to go, then he would too.
By the time he retired from showbiz in the early '60s—he went on to another successful career as a broadcaster and owner of the California Angels baseball team—Autry had made nearly a hundred films and cut hundreds of records. The country's infatuation with the myth of the Old West eventually died down, but Gene Autry's legend still rides tall. Public Cowboy No. 1 will likely stand as the definitive account of his life and work.