To kick off 2019, let's take a stroll down musical memory lane, and take a quick look at the show business career of a talented man named Woodward Maurice Ritter, better known as Tex Ritter.
He was born on January 12, 1905 and he died on January 2, 1974. He was father to actor John Ritter and grandfather to actors Jason and Tyler Ritter.
Tex was a popular actor and country music artist in the early years of both industries. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Tex was born in Murvaul, Texas and grew up on the family farm. After he graduated high school, he went to college with intent to become a lawyer. In 1928, he became interested in show business, and his law/government studies went to the back burner.
|Tex Ritter - publicity image 1966*|
Radio and Broadway
1928 - sang cowboy songs on radio in Houston, Texas
1928 - moved to New York City - sang in chorus of Broadway show The New Moon
1931 - appeared in the role of Cord Elam in Broadway show Green Grow the Liacs (basis for the musical Oklahoma!)
1932 - played role of Sagebrush Charlie in The Round Up
1934 - played role of Sagebrush Charlie again in Mother Lode
1932 - starred in New York City's The Lone Star Rangers radio show - sang and told Old West stories
1933-1936 - wrote and starred in Cowboy Tom's Roundup (daily radio children's cowboy program)
During this time, he appeared on WHN Barndance and sang on NBC radio shows.
1965 - moved to Nashville - worked for WSM Radio and the Grand Ole Opry - cohosted late-night program with country disc jockey Ralph Emery
1933 - signed with Columbia Records - recorded "Goodbye Ole Paint" and "Rye Whiskey"
1935 - signed with Decca Records - recorded "Sam Hall" and "Whoopie Ti Yi Yo"
1942 - signed with Capitol Records - he was the company's first artist they signed and also their first western singer
1936 - moved to Los Angeles
1936 - movie debut - Song of the Gringo - followed by 12 B-movie westerns (40+)
*Appeared in episodes of Death Valley Days and The Rebel
1938 - 1945 - starred in singing cowboy movies - teamed with Johhny Mack Brown (western actor) in several movies
1945 - starred as "Texas Ranger Tex Haines"
1950 - returned to show business in supporting roles or performing as himself
1966 - played himself in the film Nashville Rebel (side note: Waylon Jennings was also in this movie)
1944 - "I'm Wasting My Tears on You" - No. 1 on the country chart and No. 11 on the pop chart
1945 - "There's a New Moon over My Shoulder" - No. 2 country - No. 21 pop
1945 - 1946 hits: "You Two-Timed me One Time Too Often" and his cover of the song "The Deck of Cards", which is a recitation song
1952 - toured Europe
1952 - recorded the title track of the western movie, High Noon "Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darlin'"
1955 - "Remember the Alamo"
1961 - "I Dreamed I was in Hillbilly Heaven"
1965 - moved to Nashville - one of the founding members of the Country Music Association
Tex Ritter's contribution to the western genre--movie, television, and country music--is a legacy that I hope will never be lost or forgotten. I hope someday to visit The Tex Ritter Museum in Carthage, Texas. Here is a quote from the museum's website:
The museum started in 1993 as the Tex Ritter Museum and expanded to include friends of Tex and other Texas-born country music legends. In August 2004, the museum expanded to add a significant Jim Reeves display which features the radio equipment from Jim's radio station KGRI in Henderson.
I grew up listening to Tex on the radio or watching his western movies on Saturday afternoon matinees at the theater or on late night television. I still have two 78rpm records of his:When You Leave Don't Slam the Door/Have I Told You Lately That I love You and My Heart's as Cold as an Empty Jug/Rock and Rye. Sadly, I've lost track of my record of Blood on the Saddle.
I mean no disrespect to his memory or his singing, but I cannot listen to Blood on the Saddle without smiling, if not actually giggling. You listen and let me know if you kept a straight face.
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Until next time,
Writing through history one romance upon a time
“Tex Ritter.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 17 Dec. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tex_Ritter.
“Tex Ritter.” IMDb, IMDb.com, www.imdb.com/name/nm0728811/.
Razor Tie Artery Foundation Announce New Joint Venture Recordings | Razor & Tie, Rovi Corporation, web.archive.org/web/20080618172239/http://www.carthagetexas.com/HallofFame/museum.htm.
*Capitol Records, Tex Ritter 1966, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons