Roy Rogers, born Leonard Franklin Slye, was an American singer and cowboy actor, as well as the namesake of the Roy Rogers Restaurants chain. He and his wife Dale Evans, his golden palomino Trigger, and his German Shepherd dog, Bullet, were featured in more than 100 movies and The Roy Rogers Show. The show ran on radio for nine years before moving to television from 1951 through 1957. His productions usually featured a sidekick, often either Pat Brady, or the crotchety George “Gabby” Hayes. Roy’s nickname was “King of the Cowboys”. Dale’s nickname was “Queen of the West.”
Roy Rogers was born to Andrew and Mattie Slye in Cincinnati, Ohio, where his family lived in a tenement building on 2nd Street. Dissatisfied with his job and city life, Andy Slye and his brother Will built a 12-by-50-foot houseboat from salvage lumber, and, in July 1912, the Slye family floated on the Ohio River towards Portsmouth, Ohio. Desiring a more stable existence in Portsmouth, the Slyes purchased land on which to build a home, but the flood of 1913 allowed them to move the houseboat to their property and continue living in it on dry land.
In 1919, the Slyes purchased a farm in Duck Run, located near Lucasville, Ohio about 12 miles north of Portsmouth. There they built a six-room home. Leonard’s father soon realized that the farm alone would provide insufficient income for his family, so he took a job at a shoe factory in Portsmouth. He lived there during the week and returned home on the weekends, bearing gifts for the family following paydays. One notable gift was a horse on which Leonard learned the basics of horsemanship.
After completing the 8th Grade, Leonard Slye attended high school in McDermott, Ohio. When he was 17, his family returned to Cincinnati, where his father began work at another shoe factory. He soon decided on the necessity to help his family financially, so he quit high school, joined his father at the shoe factory, and began attending night school. After being ridiculed for falling asleep in class, however, he quit school and never returned.