I grew up in the 1950’s/60″s when cowboys were emulated by most boys. l loved Hopalong Cassidy who wore two pearl handled six guns in his holster; I asked for and got those guns for my birthday when I was eight years old.
But truth be told, the true King of the Singing Cowboys was Gene Autry. Of course, today he is famous for his rendition of “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”. But Autry starred in many movies and later a television series that exploited his voice and made him an American hero.
Later in his life Autry left a large sum of his estate toward the creation of a western museum that told the story of the the old west. The Gene Autry “Museum of the American West” is located across from the LA Zoo in Griffith Park.
The objective of the museum is spin the tale of the west that is very inclusive and straightforward manner using exhibits and artifacts that discuss Native Americans–their relocation and permanent encampment on lands chosen by the victors; African Americans–showing how slavery was a source of friction due to the Civil War, yet many of the best cowboys were of that race; and they were “Buffalo Soldiers” were some of the best in the US Army at that time; even women got there due; and naturally gold rushes, gambling, ranching, up to the recent media portrayals of the west.
There is certainly an academic side of me that soaks up all the information this museum can share–heck I was there for over 4-hours! But quite frankly, I could not wait to get to the very end of the museum. The final rooms were dedicated to my beloved western movie and television heroes. Clothes and props for Gene Autry:
Are you puzzled? Well, you see the museum is very ecumenical with its interpretation of western motifs and symbols. The final three are examples of how eclectic the media can be in order to conform to today’s cultural attitudes. Go figure!
Now I must be off…
“A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust, and a hearty “Hi-yo, Silver away!”