Monday, February 2, 2009

Gene Autry

Dear friends,
This week we air one of my favorite TV episodes, "Gene Autry and the Seven Champions."
I saw him live on stage when I was three years old, and like most Americans of my generation, I've been a fan ever since. But that was the public Gene. What I learned making this TV episode made me a fan of the private Gene.
He was not perfect, I know, and we don't sugarcoat anything in this piece. Still, I hope the audience can find as much to admire about the man as I did: his work ethic, his generosity, his loyalty, his patriotism, his business acumen, his musical talents.
At the same time, I hope the audience can forgive him his foibles, as I have. In one of his last conversations with his secretary, Maxine Hansen, Gene said of his life, "I tried to be good. I really tried." That's good enough for me.

Gene Autry died in 1998 at the age of 91. On February 8, 2009, he will receive a lifetime achievement award during the Grammy awards.

1 comment:

Rick said...

A little post-script to my earlier post on Gene Autry...
I got an email today from a couple who had seen my episode on Gene and were upset that I had mentioned his affair with Gail Davis. They insisted that I wasn't there and didn't know it to be fact. They felt I had violated several of the principles in Gene's own Cowboy Code by exposing this. I dont' fault them. I'm sure they haven't studied the public record on this man as I have. I was disappointed, too, to learn of his drinking problem and infidelity. However, these were well-known and are addressed fully in his official biography. I believe that he was great in spite of those faults. And so do the people I interviewed who knew him.
Maybe 20 seconds out of an 18 minute piece were devoted to Gene's demons. On balance, I believe we produced a very accurate and respectful piece.