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News Archive: 2011

Gene Autry FilmFest a "Key" Attraction
At Palm Springs WestFest

Updated February 10, 2011

One of the many exciting Western events at the Palm Springs WestFest & Frank Bogert Memorial Rodeo will be the Gene Autry FilmFest. Below you'll find the WestFest's latest press release.

Palm Springs, CA, February 10, 2011 – The Palm Springs WestFest & Frank Bogert Memorial Rodeo presented by Spa Resort Casino announced today that Gene Autry Entertainment will round up some legendary films for the Gene Autry FilmFest as a key attraction of the largest Western Festival in California.

Gene Autry Film Fest

The WestFest, sponsored by Palm Springs Life, Budweiser, Jack Daniel's and KVCR is slated to take place on Avenida Caballeros between E. Tahquitz and Amado Road at the Palm Springs Convention Center and grounds, March 24 – 27. The "Fantasy Camp for Cowboys" includes the Western Design Expo with its collection of America's most popular Western designers, artists and authors filling a gallery of exhibits inside the Renaissance Palm Springs Hotel. The Gene Autry FilmFest begins Friday, March 25 at 10:00 AM in the Renaissance's Mojave Theatre. General Admission is just $5 for the entire WestFest and includes the Gene Autry FilmFest among many other attractions.

Gene Autry's classic movies, originally released between 1934 and 1953, as well as episodes of his landmark 1950s Western television series The Gene Autry Show, will be screened during the Gene Autry FilmFest. Karla Buhlman, President of Gene Autry Entertainment, will introduce the movies and television episodes and will also host a Q&A following the screenings.

As the silver screen's first singing cowboy, Gene Autry created the format of the "musical Western," which combined traditional action with comedy, music, and songs to further the story line. Many of his best-loved films were based on and feature his most famous hit songs, including "Back in the Saddle," "South of the Border," and "Mexicali Rose." He carried his theatrical success to the new medium of television with his Flying A Pictures TV series. 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.

Gene Autry, who passed away October 2, 1998, at the age of 91, is the only entertainer to be honored with five stars on Hollywood's prestigious Walk of Fame for radio, records, movies, television, and live theatrical performances, including rodeo. Autry's spectacular 60-year entertainment career encompassed more than 89 cherished, classic Western films. He began his radio career in 1928 and made his first recordings a year later. By 1937, Autry had become "America's Favorite Singing Cowboy" and was voted the number one Western star by the theater exhibitors of America. Also an Academy Award™-nominated singer/songwriter (for "Be Honest With Me" for Best Song from Ridin' on a Rainbow, 1941), Autry made more than 600 recordings including over 300 that he wrote or co-wrote, generating sales exceeding 100 million copies. Some of Autry's celebrated works include such all-time standards as "Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)" and the second best-selling Christmas single of all time, his classic "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," with over 30 million in sales. Autry was the recipient of more than a dozen gold and platinum records, including the first-ever gold record for "That Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine."

Autry's career encompassed every facet of the entertainment industry, from radio and recording artist to motion picture and television star, rodeo producer and entertainer, broadcast executive, and owner of the California Angels major league baseball team. One of Autry's most cherished dreams came true in November 1988 with the opening of the Autry National Center (previously the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum) in Griffith Park, Los Angeles.

In addition to the feature films and television episodes, the Gene Autry FilmFest includes two unique and entertaining performances, both with a nominal $10 entry fee. "Oh, You Cowgirl!" is a documentary by Shirley Morris which features Juni Fisher singing an original composition, and the "Silver Screen Cowboy Project" is a tribute to singing cowboys also performed live by the Red Hot Rhythm Rustlers.

With "Oh, You Cowgirl!," Shirley Morris combines vintage photographs, archival film footage and interviews from the Pendleton Round-Up in a true story about America's unsung cowgirls. It is filled with interviews of performers, descendants, and others who contributed to the film's fascinating history and the development of Wild West shows, including a history of women in rodeo.

The "Silver Screen Cowboy Project" is an exciting musical and visual tribute to the movie cowboys from the B Westerns of the 1930s, '40s, and '50s. Cowboy heroes like Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Rex Allen, Hopalong Cassidy, Tom Mix, Lash LaRue and more will be honored in song and spirit. The Red Hot Rhythm Rustlers combine the experienced musical talents of Audrey McLaughlin, Gale Rogers, Dawn Pett, Tom Boyer and 2009 WMA Songwriter of the Year, Palm Springs' own Marvin O'Dell. During this original performance, an ongoing multimedia presentation of those silver screen cowboys and their sidekicks takes the viewer on a nostalgic ride back to yesteryear.

Palm Springs WestFest & Rodeo

Information and a schedule of performances can be found at under Gene Autry FilmFest.

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