Enduring Love: Roy Rogers and Dale Evans

Roy Rogers and Dale Evans PhotoWhat happens when the King of the Cowboys and the Queen of the West fall in love and marry? Their lives become the makings for this Valentine’s Day blog post, of course! Roy Rogers and Dale Evans were America’s very own Western royalty. But their lives weren’t all candy hearts and decorated shoeboxes for holding Valentine cards. They had their struggles, too. Maybe that’s what makes theirs a love story worth telling.

When Roy Rogers and Dale Evans met, they were due some “happily ever after” in their lives. They had a love story that was a long time in the making, but once they found each other . . . WOO DOGGIE! Let’s just say, they knew a good thing when they saw it.

Roy Meets the World

Young Roy Rogers Photo

Roy Rogers in The Great DepressionRoy Rogers moved from Ohio to California when he was eighteen-years-old. He had hoped to find that jobs were more plentiful on the West coast. Instead, armed with nothing more than an eighth grade education and a strong work ethic, he found himself living in the same work camps that John Steinbeck wrote about in The Grapes of Wrath. As Roy Rogers said, “You couldn’t beg, borrow or steal a job in 1931, 1932… It was really tough.”

Roy Rogers' Family PhotoThings were tough for Rogers, romantically, as well. Over the next few years, Roy Rogers found himself married twice, divorced once and widowed once. Even though his career had taken off, during his second marriage, it was probably little consolation. The loss of his second wife found him alone with a booming acting career, a horse named Trigger, and three small children who missed their mommy. Life was not always easy for Roy.

For Evans’ Sake!

Dale Evans PhotoDale Evans knew a thing or two about heartbreak, herself.  She married at the age of fourteen. Yes, I said, “fourteen”. By fifteen, Dale was the mother of a baby boy. Shortly thereafter, her husband announced that he wanted his freedom, leaving Dale a very young, single mother. Today, she might have found herself starring in a reality television show! But instead, she found herself yanking up those proverbial bootstraps and struggling to make ends meet. Even at this young age, she already seemed to understand, “It’s the way you ride the trail that counts.”

Dale Evans Photo 2And Dale rode the trail with gusto! She worked hard to provide for her son, while making difficult choices. There were times when she herself did without enough food, in order to ensure that her son was fed properly. Yes, even though they hadn’t yet met, times were as tough for Dale Evans as they were for Roy Rogers. Dale married and divorced twice more while pursuing a career as a radio singer, and, later, as an actress.

A Turn in the Trail

The Cowboy and the Senorita PosterBefore there was a Roy and Dale love story, there was a story of friendship. In 1944, the two played opposite each other in Cowboy and the Senorita.  Roy was the handsome cowboy, and (you guessed it!) Dale was the beautiful Senorita. They hit it off, but there was no hanky-panky. They were both married, at the time. There were to be more movies and more twists in the trail before romance blossomed.

Roy Rogers and Dale Evans WeddingIn 1946, Dale’s third marriage ended in divorce and Roy’s wife passed away. And then, wooo eee, an off screen relationship between the two coworkers started, creating more sparks than flint and steel. The story goes that Roy proposed to Dale while they were waiting for the announcer to introduce them at a Chicago rodeo. He asked if she was doing anything on New Year’s Eve. Apparently, she was free and the two were married on December 31, 1947. Roy was absolutely certain that Dale loved him deeply, because when they married he had three young kids and thirty-four Coon Hounds at home!

Happy (and Not-So-Happy) Trails

Roy Rogers & Dale Evans MarriageNo marriage that lasts fifty-one years is without bumps in the trail. Their love never faltered, but there were times when the trail must have seemed almost impassible.

Angel Unaware By Dale Evans RogersDale became a mother to Roy’s three young children. Dale’s son was already twenty-years-old, at the time of the marriage. The couple had one biological daughter, who had Down Syndrome. At a time when couples were urged to institutionalize children with Down, Roy and Dale adamantly refused. They took their baby girl home and did what good parents do best. . . they just loved her. Their sweet baby died near her second birthday from complications from the mumps. Dale went on to write a book, Angel Unaware, about their daughter, and she wrote it at a time when the topic of raising special needs children was taboo in polite conversation. Dale’s courage in sharing her experience changed many lives. Roy and Dale went on to adopt three more children and have one permanent foster daughter (whom they were unable to adopt because she was from Scotland.)

Sadly, this couple, who had such willingness to share and love, also shared unfathomable heartache. Two more of their children died in childhood. These were the kind of tragedies that cause many couples to dissolve, but for Roy and Dale, it caused them to cling more tightly to each other, and their unshakable faith in God.

Valentines Forever

Dale & Roy - Golden YearsAnd through it all, the ups and the downs, the world continued to love Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.  On this Valentine’s Day, let’s celebrate their enduring love and the theme song associated with it. “Happy Trails to You” is so much more than a catchy little ditty written by Dale Evans. Take a moment to read the lyrics. It’s a love story written by someone who knew a thing or two about storm clouds and rough patches.  But she also knew that she could face just about anything when she was with the man she loved.

 

Happy Trails to You, by Dale Evans Rogers

  • Happy trails to you, until we meet again.
    Happy trails to you, keep smilin’ until then.
    Who cares about the clouds when we’re together?
    Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather.
    Happy trails to you, ’till we meet again.
    Some trails are happy ones,
Others are blue.
    It’s the way you ride the trail that counts,
    Here’s a happy one for you.
    Happy trails to you, until we meet again.
    Happy trails to you, keep smilin’ until then.
    Who cares about the clouds when we’re together?
    Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather.
    Happy trails to you, ’till we meet again.

And for a little treat, watch Roy and Dale, sing their love song!

Happy Trails, y’all!
Anita Lequoia

13 Replies to “Enduring Love: Roy Rogers and Dale Evans”

  1. How inspiring and precious is this beautiful love story! The two people have always had a very special place in my heart! Thank you for sharing.

    1. Hi Debra, so glad that you enjoyed the story. Roy and Dale had such sadness in their lives, yet through it all, they relied on each other to carry them through. What an inspirational couple!

  2. I think that dales and roys life together was a love story that we all could use today. They loved each other very much you could see it in their shows and movies they always seemed ot respect each other and you could see the love they had. Today when things get a little down I think what dale and roy would say and it makes me feel better, love in jesus and have faith.

  3. I had the great pleasure of being at the Grande opening of a Roy Rogers roast beef sandwich shop in Houston Texas when I was a little girl. Trigger was there in all his beauty and a line of children were going by him and were allowed to pet him. When I got close Roy Rogers himself looked down at me and picked me up and put me on Trigger. I will always remember how very special i felt that day. No one eles got to sit on Trigger that day just me.In some way Roy knew I needed to be made to feel as if i mattered.i am sure he noticed that only my sister and i were there on our own and he cared for us. He holds such a very special place in my heart forever.

  4. My dad took me see the Roy Rogers movies. How I loved them. There are 2 books that made me sob growing up. One was The Yearling and the other was Angel Unaware. Thanks for the information about Roy and Dale. I was too young to know about the heartache in their lives.

  5. In my childhood, as a poor boy, I polished shoes at homes from Monday to Fridays just to save my pennies, to attend Roy Rogers western films on Fridays.. Rogers until today continue my great Hero!

    I thank God for his life, whose movies taught me a lot.
    Jacy Pimenta
    Ituiutaba, Brazil.

  6. I find it so special to read about the couple I admired at a young age on Valentine’s Day 2017.. thank you for sharing this story

  7. I grew up watching Mr.Roy Rogers & Mrs.Dale Evans Rogers I read the history if these two and I will always love them and respect what they bought to the T.V. screen and to our hearts may God bless u

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