REX ALLEN SR. BIOGRAPHY
REX ALLEN Sr.
Life of a Western Entertainer
Rex Elvie Allen was born in Willcox Arizona on December 31st, 1920 in his Grandmother Clark's home. He grew up in the area and began his music career at age eleven with a mail-order guitar. Rex sang at the local barber shop on Railroad Avenue for one dollar. He also sang in the church choir and by age thirteen he'd developed his baritone voice. Many local residents realized that his singing voice would lead him to success. He graduated from Willcox High School in 1938. The same year he sang at the Cattlemen's Convention in Phoenix and made his radio debut.
After high school, he followed the rodeo circuit and worked at odd jobs. In 1940 he left the rodeo and got a singing job with radio station WTTM in Trenton, New Jersey. He was billed as "Cactus Rex". His big break came in 1945 when he was hired to perform on the National Barn Dance on Chicago radio station, WLS. Later he became the famous movie star "Rex Allen".
Rex had a thirty five year career recording for Decca Records. His hit songs included Crying in the Chapel, Streets of Laredo, Don't Go Near the Indians, Tiny Bubbles and Money, Marbles and Chalk.
Rex starred in 19 movies for Republic Pictures between 1950 and 1954. He became known as the "Last of the Silver Screen Cowboys" and his horse, KOKO, billed as "The Wonder Horse" received equal billing with Rex in all movie publicity. During this time Rex and Koko were popular stars performing regularly on rodeo circuits.
Rex also starred in a television series, Frontier Doctor, from 1955 to 1956. There were 39 episodes produced. He narrated many of Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color nature shows and other productions. He provided the voice for 150 different cartoon characters created for Disney.
Rex's distinctive voice is recognized by the public, even those who are not familiar with his movies. For that reason he did a number of television and radio commercials for companies such as Purina dog food, Ford trucks and Tony Lama boots.
Rex was the first entertainer to receive the "Rodeo Man Of The Year" plaque and the first recipient of the now famous "Golden Boot Award". Rex was inducted into the National Cowboy Hall Of Fame and is remembered in the Western Heroes Hall Of Fame. There's a star in Hollywood's famous "Walk Of Fame" for Rex, and he was a charter member and chairman of the Western Music Association.
In October of 1989, Willcox opened the Rex Allen Museum honoring its favorite native son. A statue by Buck McCain was dedicated in Railroad Park, adjacent from the museum, on July 20th, 1991.
Rex Allen passed away on December 17, 1999. At his request, his ashes were scattered in Railroad Ave Park around the large bronze sculpture of Rex and the grave of his beloved horse, Koko.
Rex lived a long and wonderful life of memories and great achievements. Those who were privileged to know him, listen to his unique voice, and watch his movies will always share a never-ending devotion to "Rex Allen, The Arizona Cowboy".
Rex is survived by three sons, Rex Jr., Curtis, Mark, one daughter, Bonita, and ten grandchildren.