Gene Autry's Melody Ranch
Gene Autry publicity photo
|Other names||Double M Ranch|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Air dates||January 7, 1940to May 16, 1956|
|Opening theme||"Back in the Saddle Again"|
Gene Autry's Melody Ranch was a Western variety radio show in the United States. The program ran from January 7, 1940 to August 1, 1943, and from September 23, 1945 to May 16, 1956. The show's entire run was broadcast on CBS radio, sponsored by Doublemint gum. The approximately two-year interruption resulted from Autry's enlistment in the United States Army to fight in World War II. Initially titled Double M Ranch, the show's name was changed to Gene Autry's Melody Ranch early in 1940. Episodes were 30 minutes long except for a 15-minute version that ran from September 23, 1945 to June 16, 1946. The theme song was "Back in the Saddle Again".
Centering on the talent and popularity of the star, singing cowboy Gene Autry, each episode of the program "consisted of a Western adventure interspersed with interludes of music." John Dunning, in his reference book, "Tune in Yesterday," summarized the format as follows:
His own show changed little over the years. It featured a slightly sophisticated version of his 1929 act—Autry stories and songs, projected in a campfire atmosphere. Autry told his listeners that his broadcasts were coming directly from his home, Melody Ranch, in the San Fernando Mountains. He surrounded himself with a cast of regular foot-stompers ... The music was decidedly Western, with heavy accordion emphasis. There was usually one "Cowboy Classic" by Autry. [Pat] Buttram's acts were inserted for comic relief and consisted mainly of back-and-forth banter with Autry ... The highlight of each show, at least for the juvenile listeners, came when Autry told a 10- to 15-minute story, fully dramatized, of some recent adventure.
An article in Movie-Radio Guide in 1941 gave a couple of examples of plots used on the show: "Sometimes they're initiating an eastern tenderfoot visiting the ranch; sometimes they're saving the school-teacher and her children trapped in a ring of fire."
Two episodes of the program featured notable variations from the standard format. One involved changing the name of a town in Oklahoma to Gene Autry in 1941. An Oklahoma Gazette article from September 3, 2009, included the following information:
He is also the namesake of an Oklahoma town, population 99.
Born in Texas, Autry was raised north of the Red River near Ravia after his parents moved there in the 1920s. Autry's Flying A Ranch, where the famous cowboy kept his rodeo stock, was located adjacent to the town that was, at the time, known as Berwyn. In honor of the presence of cowboy royalty in its midst, the town was renamed Gene Autry in 1941.To mark the occasion, Autry broadcast his Gene Autry's Melody Ranch radio show from the Flying A, and more than 35,000 people turned out for the festivities, which included Autry parading through the town atop a flatbed car. At the time, the population of the newly re-christened town was around 300 people, according to Mary Schutz, director of programs and publicity at the Gene Autry Oklahoma Museum there.
Cast, Musicians and Writers
In addition to Autry, over the years people involved in the program included:
- The Cass County Boys (Carl Cotner, leader and arranger)
- The King Sisters
- Mary Ford
- Gene Autry Blue Jeans,
- Johnny Bond
- Alvino Rey
- Carl Cotner's Melody Ranch Six
- Frankie Marvin
- Eddie Dean
- Jimmy Wakely
- Harry Lang
- Jack Mather
- Horace Murphy
- Jerry Hausner
- Lou Bring, musical director
- Gene Autry (with a section about the physical Melody Ranch)
- Melody Ranch (about a movie with the same title as the radio program
- The Gene Autry Show (about Autry's television program).
- French, Jack & Siegel, David S. (eds.) (2014). "Radio Rides the Range: A Reference Guide to Western Drama on the Air, 1929-1967. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-7146-1. Pp. 75.
- Dunning, John. (1976). Tune in Yesterday: The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio, 1925-1976. Prentice-Hall, Inc. ISBN 0-13-932616-2. P. 236.
- French, Jack & Siegel, David S. (eds.) (2014). "Radio Rides the Range: A Reference Guide to Western Drama on the Air, 1929-1967. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-7146-1. Pp. 77-78.
- Buxton, Frank and Owen, Bill (1972). The Big Broadcast: 1920-1950. The Viking Press. SBN 670-16240-x. P. 96.
- "Gene Autry and His 'Melody Ranch'. Movie Radio Guide. March 1, 1941. P. 33.
- "Oklahoma museum honors legendary 'Singing Cowboy,' Gene Autry". Oklahoma Gazette. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
- French, Jack & Siegel, David S. (eds.) (2014). "Radio Rides the Range: A Reference Guide to Western Drama on the Air, 1929-1967. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-7146-1. Pp. 76.
- Dunning, John. (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3. P. 281.
- "Hollywood" (PDF). Billboard. January 3, 1942. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
- 58 episodes of Gene Autry's Melody Ranch --and 12 episodes of the AFRS program Melody Roundup -- are available for streaming from archive.org.
- March 1, 1949, issue of Movie-Radio Guide. See page 33 for an article about the radio program and a picture of Gene Autry with some of the cast.
- Zoot Radio, free old time radio show downloads of Gene Autry