Sweet Songs and Movie Stars

I was standing next to the director on the set. We were waiting for Lucille Smith to arrive. I had no idea who Ms. Smith was, I just knew she was late. The director had no clue who I was and didn’t care. He wanted to talk, and I happened to be the closest one to him.

“Do you know anything about the person we’re shooting today?” said the director.

“Nope… never heard of Lucille Smith,” I said.

“Eloped when she was fourteen years old, divorced and a single mom by the time she was seventeen. Married two more times before meeting Roy” he said.

“Roy? Who’s Roy?” I said.

“Lucille worked her way through radio and earned a contract with 20th Century Fox to be in the movies back in the 40’s. She co-starred with Roy in ‘The Cowboy and The Senorita.’ They ended up making 28 movies together” the director said.

“You must be talking about Roy Rogers,” I said, “but who is Lucille?”

“Lucille took the name ‘Dale Evans’ when she married Roy, ” said the director.

“Dale Evans!” I said. “Happy Trails to You” I sang. “I remember watching reruns of the ‘Roy Rogers Show’ when I was a kid!”

Dale ‘Lucille’ Evans walked into the room about that time along with her entourage. She went around the room and personally met and spoke to everyone on the crew, asked their name, shook their hand, and made them feel important. At last, she stepped onto the set and sat down.

I was the audio man on the set that day. It was my job to make sure mics were in place and sound was good and clean. The hostess of the show was already set and checked. I walked up to Roy Rogers’ wife and asked her if she wanted to attach the lapel microphone or prefer I do it.

“Do it young man and do it right,” she said matter of factly. “Quite the gentleman,” she says to the hostess as they both laugh softly to each other.

The interview lasted about twenty minutes as I recall. Dale Evans talked about her diabetes and the tragic loss of three of her children. She talked about her days on radio and tv and the movies and the day she met the “Singing Cowboy,” Roy Rogers, who became her third and final husband. They were married for 51 years.

Lucille lived 20 more years after the interview that day. When she died of heart failure in 2001, she had starred in 41 movies, 4 TV series, wrote 26 books, bestowed a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and inducted into Western Performers and the Cowgirl Hall of Fame. CMT listed her as one of the 40 Greatest Women in Country Music.

The hostess asked about her signature song. The one, she and Roy, sang while riding the horse-drawn carriage at the end of the show as the credits rolled by.

“Sing it for us?” asked the hostess.

Lucille cleared her throat a little and began…

“Happy trails to you until we meet again…

Happy trails to you, keep smiling until then…

Happy trails to you ’til we meet again.”

“Camera 2 to 1, cut camera 2 to 1, pull wide camera 1, slow, slow, camera 1 fade to black, fade to black, mics down, and… cut, wrap and print. We’re done here” said the director.


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