Roy Rogers’ 2nd Wife’s Passing Was Just the Beginning of His Numerous Poignant Family Losses
Roy Rogers Sr. was one of the most inspirational entertainers of his time. However, his life was not void of tragic occurrences, as he had to deal with the sudden deaths of his wife and children. Here is what happened.
American singer, actor, and television host Roy Rogers Sr. was popularly known as the "King of Cowboys." He made sure to impart wholesome values while he played strong, handsome, and stand-up cowboys.
The actor became so famous that children ranked him as one of the people they would love to emulate. Having appeared in more than a hundred movies and countless radio and television shows, Roy Sr. began taking being a role model seriously.
Portrait photo of Roy Rogers with his wife and kid. | Photo: Getty Images
Besides being an inspiration to many in the professional field, the icon also focused on what he found most important in his life — family. Roy Sr. was a dedicated family man who gave his love to his many children.
Irrespective of his achievements as a great entertainer and a proud family man, the actor experienced several tragic and traumatic events. Let's take a look into the tragedy-filled life of the Hollywood star.
Roy Rogers poses on a street in Los Angeles, California circa 1940. | Photo: Getty Images
ROY ROGERS SR'S FIRST TRAGEDY
In the entirety of his lifetime, Roy Sr. was married three times. He walked down the aisle for the first time with Lucille Ascolese in 1993, and three years later, the couple called it quits.
Not long after his separation, the television host found love again in the arms of Grace Arlene Wilkins after they met in Roswell, New Mexico. The pair dated shortly before tying the knot in 1936.
In 1946, the actor was filled with joy after he welcomed his first and only son, Roy Rogers Jr. However, a moment of joy soon became a tragic experience. Wilkins suddenly died of an embolism shortly after giving birth to their son.
American actor and singer Roy Rogers, circa 1945. | Photo: Getty Images
DEALING WITH TRAGEDY AND FINDING LOVE AGAIN
After Wilkins's death, Roy Sr. was faced with the sole responsibility of raising Roy Jr. and his first two children. Devastated by the loss of his wife, and having to juggle the demands of a Hollywood career and being a single dad, brought the actor and his co-star, Dale Evans, who was married at the time together.
Roy Sr.'s heart grew soft with Dale's kindness until "life's colors grew brighter again." By that time, Evans had made regular appearances on the screen after her big break in 1944 when she got cast opposite John Wayne in "In Old Oklahoma."
Singer and actor Roy Rogers and his wife Dale Evans pictured smiling with Rogers seated behind his wife with his arms around her USA, circa 1955. | Photo: Getty Images
The following year, Evans divorced her husband, Robert Dale Butts. Not long after, the actress and Roy Sr. fell in love and got married at the Flying L Ranch in Davis, Oklahoma, on New Year's Eve in 1947.
Despite several attempts to convince the pair that getting married would affect their careers, Roy Rogers Sr. and Evans never listened. Instead, they embraced their new lives as a blended family.
American actors Roy Rogers and Dale Evans circa 1950. | Photo: Getty Images
ROY ROGER SR'S SECOND TRAGEDY
On August 26, 1950, the lovebirds welcomed their first child and daughter together, Robin Elizabeth. A few days later, doctors diagnosed the little girl with a severe heart condition and mental retardation.
Baby Robin struggled to stay alive, and shortly after her second birthday, she passed away. It was a horrifying experience for the couple, especially Roy Sr., as he had previously lost his first wife.
Before their demise, Evans and Roy Sr. looked after nine children.
US actor and singer Roy Rogers wearing a white cowboy hat circa 1950. | Photo: Getty Images
According to the actor, it felt like the world had ended on all of them. However, they were left with no other option than to carry on with their lives. Due to Elizabeth's death, Evans was inspired to write a book titled "Angel Unaware."
The book gave a deeper understanding of the lives of disabled children and the joy they bring to the world. Evans and Roy Sr.'s compassion had turned them to adoption.
The couple adopted four children, Sandy Rogers, Debbie Rogers, Mimi Rogers, and Dodie Rogers. Roy Jr. described his family as an unusual international blended family, as three out of the four adopted children were from Korea, Native America, and Scotland.
American actor and singer Roy Rogers, circa 1950. | Photo: Getty Images
In 1964, Roy Sr. and Evans faced more tragedy after Debbie was involved in a car crash and passed away from her injuries. The 12-year-old girl died after a busload of children crashed into seven other vehicles.
According to the information, 42 persons were injured, out of which 40 were children from the Disciple of Christ Chapel of the Canyon Church at Canoga Park, California.
American actor and singer Roy Rogers, circa 1950. | Photo: Getty Images
Debbie was not the only adopted child of the Rogers that died; Sandy also died when he was 18 years old. He had joined the US Army at age 17, after graduating high school.
Sandy began his basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and moved to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for his advanced training. After training in Fort Knox, the young soldier was transferred to Fort Polk, Louisiana.
While training at Fort Polk, Sandy got orders to go to Germany. In Germany, he lost his life as he, unfortunately, choked to death in a military hospital.
Portrait photo of Roy Rogers posing with a horse. | Photo: Getty Images
THE COUPLE'S REMAINING CHILDREN
Before their demise, Evans and Roy Sr. looked after nine children; however, only five are alive to date. Cheryl Rogers is Roy Sr.'s first child. She was adopted by the actor and his second wife from Hope Cottage in Texas in 1941.
She was introduced to the spotlight at a young age, making appearances in some of her father's films. Currently, Cheryl is on the Advisory Board of the Western Music Association. She is also an author, a wife, and mother to seven grown children.
Singer and actor Roy Rogers, 'King of the Cowboys', in his cowboy suit on 'The Roy Rogers Show', USA, circa 1955. | Photo: Getty Images
Roy Rogers Sr.'s first biological child Linda Lou is also established. She was married to a minister, Gary Johnson, for over forty years before his demise. Lou currently lives in California.
Roy Jr., Dodie, and Mimi are also alive and well, with children and grandchildren of their own. Sadly, Evans's son, Tom Fox, from her first marriage, died in 2012. He was a music minister and a school teacher.
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