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July 11, 2022

Dale Evans, Queen of the West

Dale Evans is probably best known as the Queen of the West, the wife and co-star of the King of Cowboys, Roy Rogers. But before she ever met Roy, Dale had a successful career in singing, songwriting, and acting, and she had plans to be an even bigger star in musicals, which to Dale, meant not Westerns

This week we do a deep dive into the life of Dale Evans and how she became a cowgirl, with historian Dr. Theresa Kaminski, author of the new book, Queen of the West: The Life and Times of Dale Evans.

Our theme song is Frogs Legs Rag, composed by James Scott and performed by Kevin MacLeod, licensed under Creative Commons. The episode image is a photograph of Dale Evans taken by Harry Warnecke in 1947. It is in the public domain and available via the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

The musical interludes are “Don’t Ever Fall in Love with a Cowboy,” written and performed by Dale Evans in 1949; and “Cowgirl Polka,” written and performed by Dale Evans in 1950. The audio for both is in the public domain and available via the Internet Archive. 


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Kelly Therese Pollock  0:00  
This is Unsung History, the podcast where we discuss people and events in American history that haven't always received a lot of attention. I'm your host, Kelly Therese Pollock. I'll start each episode with a brief introduction to the topic, and then talk to someone who knows a lot more than I do. Be sure to subscribe to Unsung History on your favorite podcasting app, so you never miss an episode. And please tell your friends, family, neighbors, colleagues, maybe even strangers to listen too. Today'sepisode is about actress, singer, and songwriter Dale Evans. Dale Evans was born Frances Octavia Smith, on October 31st, 1913, in Uvalde, Texas. The Smiths moved around some, but by age seven, Frances was living in Osceola, Mississippi, and excelling in school. She sang at church and started piano lessons at age eight, which she showed a real talent for. At age 14, she eloped with her boyfriend, 18 year old Thomas Fox. They married, had a son named Thomas Jr. and then quickly split up. By age 15, Frances was living in Memphis, Tennessee, with her mother, Betty Sue, who had left Frances' gambling father, and with Frances' brother Hillman, and of course, little Tommy. Frances worked as a stenographer during the day, and finally got her first break into stardom, when a local radio station booked her for a regular singing gig, where she embraced the local Memphis flair with blues and jazz songs. In 1930, at age 17, Frances married for a second time, this time to 21 year old August Wayne Johns. The couple and Tommy left Memphis and moved to Chicago, where they struggled to make ends meet during the Depression. And then they moved from Chicago to Louisville. In a lucky break, Frances found work as a stenographer at a radio station, where she made it known that she was looking to sing. In 1935, she landed a job as a staff vocalist at WHAS, making $30 a week. But they wanted her to change her name to something that sounded more like a contemporary singer. From that point on, she became Dale Evans. Around the same time, her marriage with the abusive August broke up. Leaving Tommy with her family, Dale moved to Dallas to find work. And she did find work as a regular singer for a Dallas morning radio show. And she once again found love. R. Dale Butts, whom Dale had known in Louisville, had also moved to Dallas, and he worked as musician for the same radio station. In 1937, at not quite 24 years old, Dale married for the third time. The couple moved to Chicago, and this time, Dale was able to find the success that she couldn't find in Chicago before, singing in live stage shows, in addition to performing on the radio, and Tommy moved to Chicago to join them. In 1941 "out of the blue," as Dale described it, a Hollywood agent who had heard Dale on the radio, contacted her and asked her to fly out to California for a screen test. Hollywood demanded changes. The studio heads liked Dale, but they wanted her to lose weight, and they wanted her to pretend to be a single, childless, 21-year-old, instead of a married 28 year old mother. For the $400 a week contract that 21st Century Fox offered, she agreed, and to the public, Tommy became her little brother.

Dale's Hollywood career started slow. But she did find success in USO shows, performing for the troops stationed in California. And she landed a contract with NBC Radio, doing "The Chase and Sanborn Show" with Edgar Bergen. In 1943, Dale was signed by Republic Pictures, where she was finally cast in leading roles. Dale hoped to star in big budget musicals, and not in westerns. But over her objections, she was cast in "The Cowboy and the Senorita" with Roy Rogers. It was the first of many collaborations, including 35 films together. Dale continued to want to break away from westerns, but the studio liked what it saw when she and Roy worked together. In 1945, Dale's marriage to R. Dale Butts ended in divorce. It had been a more successful marriage than her previous two, but the stress of different performing schedules and long absences proved too much for them. By this point, Tommy was an adult, and he started studying music at the University of Southern California. When he was 20, the news finally broke that Tommy was Dale's son, and not her brother. At the end of 1947, when she was 34 years old, Dale married Roy Rogers, whose second wife, Arlene had died in childbirth the year before. Dale became stepmother to Roy's three children, Cheryl, Linda Lou and Dusty. In August, 1948, Roy and Dale launched "The Roy Rogers Radio Show" on the Mutual Broadcasting Network. And in 1950, at age 37, Dale gave birth to their daughter Robin. Robin had Down syndrome. and doctors encouraged Dale and Roy to have her institutionalized. They refused and kept Robin at home with them until her death shortly before she turned two. Dale channeled her grief over Robin's death into writing "Angel Unaware." After the success of "Angel Unaware," Dale wrote many more religious and inspirational books. Dale and Roy did not have any more biological children after Robin, but they adopted four more children: Mimi, Dodie, Sandy, and Debbie. In late December, 1951, "The Roy Rogers Television Show" premiered on NBC, starring Roy, Dale and Roy's horse, Trigger, the show ran for six seasons and 100 episodes. The theme song for both the radio show and the TV show was "Happy Trails," written by Dale and sung by Roy and Dale. After The Roy Rogers Show ended, they starred in a couple of more short lived TV shows and a television special. In 1967, they founded the Roy Rogers Dale Evans Museum, near their ranch in Apple Valley, California. And in 1968, Roy Rogers licensed his name to a restaurant chain, and Dale and Roy made personal appearances at many of the 600 locations. Dale got back onto TV in 1996, starring in a weekly Christian TV program called "A Date with Dale." In July,1998, Roy died and on February 7, 2001, Dale died as well, at the age of 88. She is buried next to Roy at Sunset Hills Memorial Park in Apple Valley, California. Dale was inducted into both the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame and the Cowgirl Hall of Fame, and she has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Joining me to help us understand more about Dale Evans, is historian Dr. Theresa Kaminski, author of the new book, "Queen of the West: the Life and Times of Dale Evans." But first, enjoy a short clip of "Don't Ever Fall in Love with a Cowboy," written and performed by Dale Evans in 1949.

Dale Evans  10:20  
Don't ever fall in love with a cowboy cause it's this way, in the west. No matter how much you love a cowboy, he will love his horse the best. Now he might tell you he thinks you are pretty. And he likes your last years dress. But he'll buy that horse a new blanket. Cause he loves his horse the best. Don't get me wrong. I'm just as happy happy as I can be. I love him and he loves me and Trigger makes three. If you plan to marry a cowboy and to settle in the west. You better first plan that fancy stable cause it's this way in the west. Hey Roy, I'm only kidding honest. But it's this way in the west.

Kelly Therese Pollock  11:27  
Hi, Theresa, thanks so much for joining me today.

Dr. Theresa Kaminski  11:29  
Oh, Kelly, thanks so much for having me.

Kelly Therese Pollock  11:32  
Yeah, it was really fun to to learn about Dale Evans. I wanted to ask, you say in the book that you had been working on this for, like 10 years. So I want to hear a little bit about how how you got into her story, what made you decide that you wanted to write a book about her?

Dr. Theresa Kaminski  11:49  
Well, I think it was a combination of, of nostalgia, and trying to find a good subject for a biography. And in terms of finding a good subject, for me that I mean, that always means women. I was trained as a historian of women. And I've come to really embrace biography as a way of telling those stories, because, to me, it's it's a really great way of combining people with the time period. I also like to focus on women who are not particularly well known. Dale Evans, of course, she's probably the most well known woman I've written about, but well known in her time. And that time period has kind of faded away, as you know, as decades go by. So when I started looking into her in the early part of the 21st century, not many people really knew much about her anymore. And so that made me really interested in where she came from, how she got to be such a big star. And this then this kind of dovetails back to nostalgia because I'm old enough to remember watching reruns of the Roy Rogers show, the black and white 30 minute western that ran on, I'm pretty sure it probably was on WGN TV, Saturday mornings. For people who are in Chicago, you probably know this. I may be wrong about the exact station but I know it was part of the Saturday morning lineup. So if a good cartoon wasn't on, when we were kids, it was probably Roy Rogers time and seeing a female co-star in from a show from the 50s, because the show ran in its original run from '51 to '57. And Dale had a co-starring role. She her character was not a housewife, which I mean, when we think of like 50s classic 50s sitcoms, we think of Lucille Ball, we think of Donna Reed, and they were housewives, and Dale Evans was not. She she really came across as somebody who you know, in terms of co-star was also co-equal to the male star, Roy Rogers in the plot developments. She she didn't need to be saved. She wasn't there as somebody who was constantly getting herself into trouble she couldn't get out of. Rather she was, along with the male lead, saving other people. So I was really, I think I was really interested in that as a child and then as an adult coming back to that and realizing how unusual that was for the time.

Kelly Therese Pollock  15:02  
Yeah, yeah. So let's talk some about sources. There are a lot of sources that are there's a lot, you can just go out and watch all the TV shows. And but there's a lot about her that's out there. But like a lot of other celebrities, she has a sort of carefully crafted image. And so how do you as a biographer, go through, find all this information, but a lot of it is sort of the way she would have wanted it to be found and sort of tease out what was actually happening in her life.

Dr. Theresa Kaminski  15:33  
And that is always a challenge is figuring out what I know what really happened, I tried to stay away from word words like the truth of what what happened, but at least trying to get the facts straight. Dale did write a lot for public consumption, especially after her, her daughter died. In the 1950s, she started on this, this writing career where, you know, she ends up with, you know, over 20 books published, most of them autobiographical, spiritual, so she does weave in a lot of her own autobiography, and then trying to figure out how much of it and we all know this with memory, too, how are you remembering things correctly. So what I ended up doing, was using a couple of her memoirs as kind of a starting point. And then I used a newspaper database. And year by year, in some cases, month by month, using the name Dale Evans, going through and just tracking her, where she was, what she was doing. And this, of course, is where her her fame makes it easier because she was covered extensively by the media. And so I could at least get a good timeline of where she was, what she was doing. So that helped a great deal. And then getting into, like interviews that appeared with her in the newspaper, then I had to factor in the whole thing about the creation of image. So I tried to question what it was she was trying to get across with this particular message, because we all know, you're right that stars are guarded in what they say. They they normally prep a lot if they're sitting down for an interview. And I think Dale was very conscious of this. And especially after her marriage to Roy Rogers, she did have a very particular image she was interested in promoting. And I think she did this very well. But also, my sense of this was after reading all of this information, she she was very close to the way she presented herself, I think, and this is a question that I've often seen come up, especially in connection with her religious faith, some people criticizing her and dismissing her as being opportunistic; that as she saw her Hollywood career fading, later, as her television career faded, that she attached herself to Christianity as a way of maintaining that. And while it's certainly true that her Christian faith brought her I think, a whole bunch of new fans, I really didn't get the sense that that was faked. It just seemed such an integral part of her family life then. So these are certainly my impressions after spending all this time doing the research. So that was how I wrote about it.

Kelly Therese Pollock  19:27  
Yeah. One thing that I think you wouldn't get in some sort of quick synopses of her life, you know, like, if you look at like a little biography online or something, but that does come through in your book is the extent to which she wasn't always trying for the career that she ended up with, that she wanted to be taken more seriously as a singer, that she wanted to do, sort of the straight musicals and not the westerns. So what can you talk some about that, that sort of path and how she ended up then being known as, you know, Queen of the West, and that's what what we associate her with?

Dr. Theresa Kaminski  20:04  
Right. And I think that's that's kind of the central tension of of her adult life of her performing career is that, oddly enough, this was not a nickname that she would have wanted when she started out. So it was always kind of a difficult thing for her to deal with. But when she started and she was she was very young. She started off in radio in the late 1920s. And she did very much see herself as a popular singer. And this was her real, you know, her real interest in and she was young then, she was still a teenager. So she's this, she's this very young woman. It's the 1920s, a lot of great music. She was she was also very much attracted to blues music, but really any kind of popular music. She just really embraced it. She did see for herself, initially, a great career in the radio, which she she really did have, I mean, moving from places like Louisville and Dallas and then Chicago. She was in Chicago for a few years. She really built a strong base through the radio. Also, when big bands came into popularity, she did spend time now and then with with some of the bigger bands. She also then as she was thinking ahead with her career, and she saw her and she did really see herself on the larger stage. And for her, this meant Broadway. This was always her her big interest. She was she was looking eastward. And she was looking at what she was doing with radio and with big bands as a way of getting to Broadway, because she really did like the idea of appearing on stage, in as you describe it sort of more mainstream, kind of lighter musical comedies. She she thought she would be perfect for that. And it did, I think come as a bit of a surprise to her then when the the big call comes not from the East Coast, but from the West Coast and Hollywood.

Kelly Therese Pollock  22:35  
And then of course, she ends up sort of making this career out of it. And you know, it seems like there's continues to be a little bit of tension as she's being cast in westerns, really wants to try to get out of them. And eventually, does she just sort of accept that this is where, where she can find fame?

Dr. Theresa Kaminski  22:54  
Yeah, I think she does. And when she first goes out to Hollywood in 1941, she's brought out there by one of the big studios, it was it was Paramount. And then she actually ends up getting a contract, not with Paramount, but with 20th Century Fox, you know, a big movie studio. But after that first year, she gets dropped, because they they don't really know how to place her. You know, it's not like there's anything wrong with her. She doesn't she doesn't do anything that's bad. But she she can't find a way quickly enough to distinguish herself to set herself off from all of the other female actors and singers who were around at the time. So 20th Century Fox just doesn't want to keep paying her pretty good money for not really doing much of anything. So she does spend about a year trying to regroup from that. And she she goes back into radio, which she does not see see as any sort of a consolation prize because she gets on a really big radio show. And so that that really helps her. But it's with one of her her new agents that she gets a a screen test at Republic Studios, which was one of the sometimes they're referred to as B Studios. These were the smaller studios that tended to churn out the the weekly serial type movies that were pretty inexpensive to make. Republic did also have a small line of what it referred to as its prestige films, for example, starring John Wayne. So there were some bigger names in that stable of actors. And when Dale Evans was hired in 1943, at Republic, they put her to work right away. And she was I mean, she was always filming, movie upon movie upon movie. And it was initially that that kind of light, contemporary musical comedy that she thought she she would be good at. And she was in fact very good. 

She received what were known as feature roles rather than, like starring roles, like her name wasn't on the credits as starring Dale Evans, but she would usually be listed somewhere down but but still pretty prominently. So she always had a good, like, supporting role in these movies. And after she was at Republic for a while, the head of the studio then did decide to team her up with one of its other big stars, not not really in its prestige line, but a solid serial performer. And that, of course, was Roy Rogers, known as "The Singing Cowboy," and later known as "The King of the Cowboys." And the first time she was approached about getting paired up with Roy Rogers, she went to her agent immediately and said, "No, no, no, no, I should not do this. I'm not. I'm not a western. You know, I'm not a western actor." And actually, one of her main concerns at that point was something that, you know, she had pretty much sussed out on her own was that women who co starred in these kinds of movies didn't go on to be big stars in their own right. And that's what she wanted, she still saw herself as being able to make it to that next level. She thought if I if she got in with Roy Rogers, that was that was going to put a halt to her big time career. So the first time her agent was able to talk the studio head out of that pairing. And so Dale thought she was free and clear. But Herbert Yates, the head of the studio, just came back again and said, "No, I really want you in this movie." And this time, he he would not listen to any excuses, any reasons why she shouldn't be in this movie. And additionally, one of the things that the Dale worried about, was that she couldn't ride a horse. And Herbert Yates thought she would be a natural for these movies, because she had come from Texas. She still had a bit of a drawl. And he thought, "Oh, great, this, you know, this gal from Texas, and why not put her on a horse next to Roy Rogers?" And she didn't really want to admit that she couldn't ride a horse. So, you know, the first day she's filming with Roy, you know, he's trying not to laugh at her because she can't, you know, she can kind of sit on a horse, but she can't really ride it all that well. But they did get along, personally very well. And they had met before this, maybe as early as sometime in the 1930s, through radio stuff. But certainly a bit earlier in the 1940s, they had at least met. So by the time she was working with him, especially when she was at Republic Studios on the lot, you know, she would see him. So they did know each other. And when they started working with each other, they got along very well. In for her, it wasn't a question that, "Oh, I don't like working with this Rogers guy." It was just the whole genre of westerns that she was convinced would not lead her to stardom. So she, every time she got cast in one, she she'd go back to Yates and say, but what about this, and he kept stringing her along, saying, "Well, after the next one will put you in something else, after the next one." And he didn't really live up to his promises.

Kelly Therese Pollock  29:04  
You talked about how much she was filming. And I think that's that's sort of the overwhelming sense I get out of this book is that it's just what a grind her life really would have been. You know, and I assume that's true for anyone who's trying to make a living like this, that it's just sort of, you know, in the early part of her life, it's moving from city to city to try to find something. It's taking whatever jobs come and even after she and Roy are have sort of made it big it's this constant like, okay, maybe now we do radio now we do TV, you know, let's see if we get another film going. Let's open our own studio. What is it that if we know that sort of driving her this whole time to be able to take on this incredible workload and this just sort of constant you know, push to try for the next thing?

Dr. Theresa Kaminski  29:56  
And I think that's what her you know, kind of her or her motto was, you know, the the whole business of what's next what what else can I do? She was she had a tremendous amount of energy. She was tremendously talented in different ways, and very driven to express that. And it is interesting when you think about her, landing that contract with Republic Studios in 1943. This is during World War II. So, in her spare time, the time she had off from the studio when she wasn't filming, anytime there was a break in the filming, she was with, you know, groups of Hollywood entertainers who would go stateside to the army posts and do shows for the the soldiers. So she was doing these live performances, she was picking up radio gigs, where she could so all of this and it was all building toward that goal of of becoming a real celebrity, you know, a real star in Hollywood. And I think that that was just something she had wanted to achieve, since you know, this was a childhood dream of hers. And she kept working until she achieved it. And, you know, then that does take us into the Roy Rogers years, because she does end up marrying Roy, even though she she does try after, you know, especially at the tail end of World War II and in through 1946, she tries to stay away from him.  She declines to sign another annual contract with Republic. She she does, she makes this concerted effort to break away and she can't do it. And I think part of that, especially by late '46 and into '47 is because she had found that her feelings for Roy Rogers have now moved beyond friendship. And she doesn't want to be away from him. And so being with him means being part of that whole western entertainment persona. Because of course, Roy was huge, as you know, The Singing Cowboy in these movies. He had a recording career, he had a radio career. He did a lot of personal appearances. He was doing rodeos in the 40s and 50s. So this would all become part of Dale's life. So she did finally embrace that as this is this is what the stardom is going to be. This is what it's going to encompass. This is how celebrity finally happens is being Queen of the West to Roy's King of the Cowboys.

Kelly Therese Pollock  33:14  
Yeah, yeah. And so by the time that she and Roy get married, Dale has been married three times before this. Roy had been married twice before this. And so you know, you might expect going in that this is going to be yet another Hollywood romance that's not going to last very long. But then they're married the rest of their lives. And it's this incredible, productive partnership. So what what was it about their relationship that made it so successful and long lasting and and really productive?

Dr. Theresa Kaminski  33:49  
I think by that time, they'd both been through so much, as you mentioned, the previous marriages, they, they're finally really mature at this point. And they did get married after Roy lost his wife. His second wife died not long after childbirth. So Roy found himself a widower with three young children, one you know, an infant and and as far as his personal life while he was married to his second wife, he was very much a family man. That's how he was portrayed in all of the publicity and it does again it does seem that that was very true. So losing his second wife was was a big blow and I think that when he was relying more and more on Dale for companionship, and then it turned into love, I think that for Dale through her previous marriages, she seemed to have been searching for somebody who would be very supportive of her ambitions and her career as it existed. She seemed to have come very close to that with her third husband, but just not quite. So there, there just must have been something that meshed at that time for both of them. And they could agree on a lot as they moved forward. Now in her memoirs, Dale does talk about how their temperaments were different. She does admit to having quite a temper, which she had to work very hard to control. And she, she admitted that Roy helped to balance that out. He tended to be by nature, more easygoing. He liked to tease her a lot to kind of bring her back to reality on things. So their personalities, they could they could get goals set together and work toward them, even as they worked on separate things, because there were things that Dale still continued to do on her own. But they always found a way of balancing this. But then the the added issue that came into their marriage, of course, had to do with the children, both his children who were still young at the time, and really needed a stable home environment, and then in 1950, when the two of them had their own biological daughter together. So Dale finds herself for the time, kind of late in life having a child, which she apparently did not expect. So she's in her late 30s, when when she and Roy have their, their baby daughter, Robin. And she did face considerable challenges as a mother, again, because, you know, another thing about her previous marriages was she, she had had a biological son. By the time she married Roy, her son, Tommy was, you know, pretty much self sufficient on his own. This was not a young child coming into the household dealing with, you know, new step siblings, but, but rather a young adult himself. So having Robin, this, you know, this starts a new chapter in her mothering life, which she didn't quite expect.

Kelly Therese Pollock  37:48  
So I think the challenge for me reading this, as I got toward the end of the book, and the end of her life, is understanding her, her attitude about feminism. You know, she's such an independent, strong willed woman. And then she's writing books, saying, you know, women should stay at home and raise kids. And, you know, why do women want to be liberated? I wonder if you could just sort of speak to that, that tension, it's almost seeming contradiction. You know, what, what's going on there, in this sort of philosophy that she seems to adopt later in life?

Dr. Theresa Kaminski  38:31  
That was something that was a challenge for me to write about too, because especially in her later life, Dale's politics and her religious faith, this is just not something that you know, that I've dealt with much on my own. So it was really interesting to chart these changes. And I do think that her adoption, or her reemersion in her Christian faith, because she had been raised a Baptist, that was in her family background. She let that lapse for many decades while she was pursuing her career. And you're right, as a young woman, she, I mean, she was a young, single mother for for decades. And so she, she had to do everything on her own, and she did take a lot of pride in her accomplishments as a single woman. And so you would think, on the face of it, then that she would be a really big supporter of women's rights. And it's not that she opposed, you know, women's suffrage although that was pretty much of a done deal for her by the time she was an adult. You know, women voting that was just a reality. That's what was going on in the United States for white women like her. But  not long after she married Roy, and she was coming to terms with mothering three young children, and by the way, after she gets married to Roy, Herbert Yates at Republic, essentially fires her because he disapproves of this. And he thinks it's it's going to be harmful for Roy's career, it, you know, it's this whole thing. So she's essentially back home, taking on all these domestic duties. And it's her son, Tommy, who suggests that maybe she and the children need to go to church, and maybe with more structured religion in their lives, she can better handle this new phase of her life. And she, she does initially resist, but she does. By 1948, she's, she's back at church, bringing the children and then Roy also makes that decision too, and I think it is, through this and the kind of Christianity that she embraced that she and Roy embrace together. This tended to be a fairly conservative branch of, of Christianity, a lot of the, the people that she associated with in the various churches that they belonged to, were also like staunch supporters of the anti-communism movement in the United States. So it was also very much tied into this rising sense of post war, post World War II patriotism, anti-communism, and along with this also went this belief that was promoted as being very traditional, that women belonged in the home as wives and mothers. So I think this is where it comes from. It's all part of this. And of course, we see the the kind of irony here is that Dale does have this very active public career. And part of that is counseling women, to stay home and be wives and mothers.

But, even as she's promoting that, in her various books, she does say that God does, you know, bestow talents on people differently. So if you do, if you're a woman, and you have a particular talent, there's there's nothing wrong with pursuing that. So it's not that she's, you know, she's absolute about this, that women must stay at home. She does try to make space for women like herself, who have these talents that should be expressed. But she is very much saying that that should not come at the expense of home and family. And it is also interesting, when you look at the books that she wrote, as as an author, she does identify herself on those book covers as Dale Evans Rogers. So she's she's expressing that through her writing career. But as she's appearing on television, it's still her her regular stage name of Dale Evans. But I did find it interesting that in her writing career, she does add the name Rogers, because she's very conscious then that she is not just promoting this notion of women being in the family, but she sees herself very much a part of that. She's very involved in her household. She's very involved with the children that they're raising, because they do go on to adopt children. So they they, they do the Rogers household is a very large one. It's very active. And she's she's involved in it on a day to day basis. She does have help in the household, but she's still involved.

Kelly Therese Pollock  44:26  
Yeah. So there's so many other things we could talk about but people need to just go read the book, so tell everyone how they can get this book.

Dale Evans  44:34  
It is available through all of your favorite book-buying places. It was published by Lyons Press. So you can you can get at it through the Rowman and Littlefield website online. So it's a division there, but it is available widely. And the other thing I would say is that, not just for me, but for all of your favorite authors and books out there anybody who reads a book, if they're on a bookish type website, if they leave a review of that book, and any it doesn't have to be fancy, just say I liked it, you should read it. This really helps books get a higher profile and more readers who might be interested will find it too. So I do try to get a plug in for for reviews. That that does help, but it should be widely available.

Kelly Therese Pollock  45:35  
Excellent. Well, Theresa, thank you so much for speaking with me. I really enjoyed learning about Dale and then people can go Google too. There's there's some videos of her and Roy singing that you can see that are just lovely. So

Dr. Theresa Kaminski  45:50  
Great. This was so much fun. I really appreciate it.

Dale Evans  45:53  
Choose yourself a partner, be it Jim or Jack or Joe. Make yourself light as a feather, when you do that heal and toe. There'll be some dancin' and romancin' when the moon is full and bright. Don't forget "The Cowgirl's Polka"at The Double R Bar tonight.

Teddy  46:30  
Thanks for listening to Unsung History, You can find the sources used for this episode To the best of our knowledge, all audio and images used by Unsung History are in the public domain or are used with permission. You can find us on Twitter or Instagram @Unsung__History, or on Facebook @UnsungHistorypodcast. To contact us with questions or episode suggestions, please email If you enjoyed this podcast, please rate and review and tell your friends.


Theresa KaminskiProfile Photo

Theresa Kaminski

I am a historian of scrappy women. After twenty-five years as a university professor, I now write full time from a place affectionately referred to as Southfork. I also love to talk about these women and am available for public presentations, book club chats, etc.

My most recent book is Queen of the West: The Life and Times of Dale Evans. It represents a lot of “firsts.” It is the first full-length biography of this mid-twentieth century multi-faceted star. It is the first book to use biography to chart the broad sweep of changes in women’s lives during the twentieth century, and to have popular music, movies, and television shows as its backdrops. The glitter of country music, the glamour of Hollywood, and the grit of the early television industry are all covered. It is the first book to draw from never-before-seen sources (especially business records and fan mail) from the Roy Rogers-Dale Evans collections at the Autry Museum of the American West. One of the central tensions of Dale’s life revolved around chasing the elusive work/family balance, making her story instantly relatable to women today, In addition to fame, Dale longed for a happy, stable, family life. Her roles and wife and mother became the foundation for her public persona: the smart, smiling, cheerful cowgirl. Unusual for its time were Dale Evans’s attempts to control the trajectory of her career at a time when men dominated decision-making in the entertainment fields.

Publishers Weekly called it an “illuminating and definitive biography” that “restores an oft-overlooked yet influential 20th-century celebrity to her rightful place in music history.” The entire review can be found here.

Another positive review appeared in BookTrib, followed by a brief Q&A with me.

And if you’re a podcast enthusiast, you can listen to me on Cowboy Up! and The Bookshop at the End of the Internet.

In June 2020, I published Dr. Mary Walker’s Civil War. For her work as a physician with the Union during the war, Walker became the only woman to receive the Medal of Honor. Her wartime exploits were astonishing enough, but she was a lifelong advocate of women’s rights who tirelessly promoted dress reform (she always wore a Bloomer costume) and suffrage.

Before Mary Walker, I wrote a trilogy of nonfiction books about American women in the Philippines.

The first, Prisoners in Paradise: American Women in the Wartime South Pacific, reveals what happened to American women living in the Pacific theater as the Japanese occupied that territory during World War II.

The follow-up, Citizen of Empire: Ethel Thomas Herold, an American in the Philippines, provides an in depth look at an ordinary American woman from a small town in southwestern Wisconsin who embraced the goals of U.S. imperialism in the Philippines. She spent most of her adult life there, including over three years as a prisoner of the Japanese during World War II.

The last, Angels of the Underground, was published by Oxford University Press in 2015. Here I am, talking about it on C-SPAN.

I have a wonderful husband, son, daughter-in-law, and two grandsons.

Jacqueline Flynn at Joëlle Delbourgo Associates is my (very patient) literary agent.

Sam Clark and Marta Rusten provide technical support for all of my computer issues, and they were essential to the creation of this site.

I am a big fan of narrative nonfiction. Come join my Facebook discussion group Nonfiction Fans, which I co-moderate with the fabulous Pamela Toler. I also read a lot of historical fiction, and I enjoy an odd variety of t.v. shows and going out to the movies.