Gene Autry Was Worth an Astounding Amount at the Time of His Death Even After Adjusting for Inflation

Gene Autry may have been known as the Singing Cowboy, but he accomplished so much beyond his incredible entertainment career. He was a gifted country musician and actor but also served in the military, was an intelligent businessman, and owned a professional baseball team. He built an astounding legacy and, at the time of his death, had a net worth of a staggering $500 million when adjusted for inflation. 

Gene Autry was fired from his job for singing too much

California Angeles owner Gene Autry (AKA the Singing Cowboy)
California Angeles owner Gene Autry (AKA the Singing Cowboy) | Robert Riger/Getty Images

Gene Autry was born in Texas in 1907. The family relocated to Oklahoma in the 1920s, where Autry spent his teen years working on a ranch. In 1925, he decided to drop out of high school. His search for work led him to the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway. He began working as a telegraph operator for the railroad — until his constant singing got him in trouble. 

According to Celebrity Net Worth, Autry spent his downtime at work singing and playing his guitar, which cost him his job. Losing the job turned out to be lucky for Autry because he was encouraged to pursue a musical career. In 1928, he began to sing regularly for a local radio station, which led to a contract with Columbia Records a year later.

He spent the next four years recording music and working for the Chicago radio show National Barn Dance. Eventually, Autry’s music career took off, and he sold over 100 million records. Autry was a regular at the top of the Billboard country charts and had the very first “certified gold” record. 

Autry was the first major movie star to appear on the small-screen

It didn’t take long for Hollywood to notice Gene Autry’s incredible music and penchant for entertaining. Britannica states that Autry’s first film debut was in the 1934 film, In Old Santa Fe. The young singer wasn’t the star, but he did perform a song in the movie. His first starring role came one year later, in the sci-fi western, The Phantom Empire

Autry was just as dazzling on screen as he was in person. His movie career moved at high speed — he starred in 93 feature films. Many of these movies were musical Westerns, and Autry became widely recognized as the Singing Cowboy. Some of his most famous films included The Big Show, Tumbling Tumbleweeds, and Home on the Prairie.

According to the website Gene Autry, the incredible actor wasn’t afraid to try something different. In 1950, he became the first major movie star to appear regularly in a television show. Autry produced and starred in the CBS series, The Gene Autry Show. After five years of producing his show, he used his talents to produce several other series, including Annie Oakley and The Range Rider

Gene Autry created an astonishing legacy 

Gene Autry had an incredibly busy music and film career yet somehow managed to do many other impressive things with his life. His website states that he entered the Army Air Corps in 1942. He spent four years overseas, ferrying fuel, ammunition, and weapons during the War, and later touring in the South Pacific with a USO troupe. 

The celebrated actor and singer was a huge fan of baseball. In 1961, he became the owner of the California Angels. He was also Vice President of the American League until he died. 

In 1988, Autry was thrilled to open the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum. He was very dedicated to providing enrichment about the heritage that had been such a huge part of his career. In 2015, the museum (which had since merged with two other museums) became the Autry Museum of the American West. 

Autry’s incredible accomplishments include five stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He is the only entertainer to have a star in each category — radio, recording, movies, television, and live performance. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, The National Cowboy Hall of Fame, and the National Association of Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame. He also received the Songwriters Guild Lifetime Achievement Award.

Autry died in his home in 1998 after battling lymphoma. He was 91 years old.

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