The Official Website of Gene Autry, America's Favorite Singing Cowboy

News Archive: 2001

The Gene Autry Show Comes to DVD!
Posted July 2001

The long-awaited television debut of The Gene Autry Show on July 23, 1950, placed Gene Autry immediately in the ranks of television's topmost attractions. He became the first popular motion picture star to make original films especially for the new medium. Maintaining America's Favorite Singing Cowboy's reputation for entertainment "firsts" isn't easy. But 50 years later, Gene Autry Entertainment is proud to announce that our beloved cowboy star is now available, for the first time ever, on DVD.

Fully restored and uncut, the first eight episodes of The Gene Autry Show will be released by Image Entertainment, Inc. on VHS and DVD with four episodes per volume. Image Entertainment has released a variety of classic TV programs and specials, and The Gene Autry Show fits right into that "vintage television" library along with their other recent releases of Howdy Doody and I Spy. DVD features pristine digital video quality and clean Dolby Digital sound. The Autry DVDs will feature interactive menus, the ability to jump to a specific scene at the touch of a button, and other special bonus features.

Before a single scene of the series was ever shot, Gene and his staff spent more than two years studying all angles of television production. They then made extensive preparations including creating a new organization, Flying A Pictures, with Armand Schaefer as president and producer-in-charge. Original scripts written especially for the television medium were purchased from well-known Western adventure writers. A permanent location was established at Pioneertown, near Palm Springs, California.

Special filming techniques, devised with the home viewer in mind, were adapted.

They eliminated long shots and instead concentrated on close-up action shots to give the viewer maximum intimacy with the players. In riding sequences, horsemen were photographed at close range and shown traveling across the screen rather than toward the camera. White tones and lighter shades were emphasized in the picture, and darker portions were kept deep gray rather than flat black. In order to assure the utmost in quality, the producers used 35 mm film.

Each episode (referred to as a film in the 1950s) of The Gene Autry Show is a complete 27-minute story of wholesome, rugged, exciting Western adventure with Gene's songs—at least one to a show—neatly blended into the plot. Music is an important part of any Gene Autry project, and during 80% of each episode's action, background music helps set the mood. This percentage is in sharp contrast to the average 30% use of background music by other television programs at that time. Carl Cotner, musical director for the Cowboy's CBS radio show, composed and conducted for Gene's television show, too.

Thanks to the latest in home entertainment, episodes of The Gene Autry Show starring Gene Autry and Champion, and featuring Pat Buttram as well as a wide range of guests including the Cass County Boys, Alan Hale, Jr., Sheila Ryan, and Gail Davis, can now be yours to own and enjoy in the comfort of your living room.

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