The sale of Trigger – the late Roy Rogers horse
September 7, 2010
“The Smartest Horse in the Movies” is what Life magazine called Roy Rogers’ horse, Trigger, featuring him on the cover of their July 12, 1943, issue.
When Trigger died in 1965, Roy decided to preserve him like the animals in the Smithsonian. He had a Burbank taxidermist stuff and mount the horse so fans could continue to enjoy him in their museum. Roy did the same with “Bullet” after he died, the German shepherd who was in his western movies. When they were onscreen, both animals got letters from fans all around the world.
When they closed the Roy Rogers/Dale Evans Museum in Victorville, Calif., Roy “Dusty” Rogers Jr., and Roy’s other children moved everything to Branson, Mo., and set up a museum there. Later, they had to make a final financial decision to close it. From its start to closing in December 2009, it had been open to the public for 45 years. Plans were made to put everything on the auction block, first in Denver, and finally in July 2010 at Christie’s in New York City, where the last sale was held.
This auction wasn’t an ordinary auction. It signaled an end of an era when you knew that all the good cowboys on the movie screen wore white hats and were happy and sang, and the bad cowboys wore black hats and never smiled. It represented a simpler time in America.
According to the Los Angeles Daily News of July 15, the sale of all the contents of the Roy Rogers/Dale Evans Museum was complete at Christie’s in New York City. Trigger sold for $266,500 and Bullet for $35,000. Fortunately, the highest bidder was Mr. Campione, newly hired chief financial officer for RFD-TV, based in Omaha, Neb., who was bidding for his boss, Mr. Gottsch.
Patrick Gottsch, owner and founder of the 10-year-old cable channel, stated in a press release, “It is truly an honor and a privilege to now be caretakers of these two American icons. We are dedicated to rural America and the western lifestyle. Beginning in November, we will be showing Roy Rogers movies on Saturday mornings. We hope they will help us introduce television like-it-used-to-be to a whole new generation of families. Roy ‘Dusty’ Rogers Jr. will introduce the shows, adding personal stories about his folks. Western music performed by Dusty, his son Dustin, and their western group, ‘The High Riders’ will also be part of each program.”
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So pardners, this means that the Good Guys win again! As Roy himself would sing, “Happy Trails to You,” Mr. Gottsch.