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People Top 5
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- October 19, 1998
- Vol. 50
- No. 14
Genial Cowboy Gene Autry Corralled a Whole Lotta Living
But for generations of Americans weaned on his films, TV shows and recordings such as "Back in the Saddle Again" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," the genial, G-rated rider will forever embody American youth and vitality. "I never considered myself a legend," said Autry, the son of a hardscrabble Texas livestock trader and his homemaker wife. "I've loved everything I did."
That included parlaying, through shrewd investments, his showbiz success into Forbes 400 wealth. "Gene would ride into the sunset," sidekick Pat Buttram once said. "Now he owns it." Autry spent his last days at home in Studio City, Calif., cared for by his wife, Jackie, 57 (neither she nor first wife Ina Mae, who died in 1980, bore him any children), and watching pals Jimmy Stewart, Bob Hope and Gary Cooper in films from the Hollywood era that he and friendly rival Roy Rogers (who died last July) helped illuminate. "We all wanted to win for him," says Angels star-turned-hitting-coach Rod Carew. "Everybody loved him."
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