Dale Robertson

The Gambler from Natchez
Since I started Westerns On The Web several years ago the world has lost many of our great western movie and television heroes. Harry Carey Jr. is one of the most recent ones. Along with many others. I have not really commented on the passing away of these wonderful entertainers for a few reasons. Partly because while I am pretty sure I would have really enjoyed meeting them I did not personally know any of these wonderful western stars. Until now! Dale Robertson passed away today February 27 of 2013 at 89 years of age. While I was not great friends with Dale. For instance we did not spend time at each others homes. Although Dale Robertson would have been welcome in my home anytime. ( I would not say that about just anyone no matter how famous! ) But Dale would have been welcome.
I met Dale Robertson in Wilcox Arizona in October of 1999 at the Rex Allen Days Western Festival. This was I believe the first western festival my family attended and we had a lot of fun and made some wonderful friends. This was the last Festival in Rex Allen’s honor that Rex was to attend and he was not feeling well. I was the third person in line waiting to meet him at his table and get an autographed photo. But it was not to be. Rex had ridden on the back of a convertible in the parade and had to be helped to his table. After visiting with the first person in line he was so ill he had to be helped away. Everyone was very concerned about Rex and upset that he was not well. No sooner had Rex been helped away to get some rest than Dale Robertson was seated at his table along with Mary Ellen Kay. Dale was just as he always seemed on film. A wonderful booming voice and grand welcoming manner. I visited with Dale a few moments and chose a photo to purchase. Dale then asked me who I would like the photo autographed to? Well my family was still sitting on the curb watching the last of the parade right behind me just outside of the Rex Allen Museum. So I said would you please sign it to The Terry Family. Dale looked a bit surprised and asked – To The Terry Family? I said yes sir. At this point Dale had a few words to say about my request. “To The Terry Family! That’s Great! Getting something for the family! Everyone’s always thinking of themselves! Its great to see someone not just thinking of themselves but of there family.” With this Dale signed my treasured photo. It was then that I met Mary Ellen. Mary Ellen Kay was gracious and wonderful to meet. A nice lady. I purchased a photo from her and had her sign it the same way. (Since then all the autographed photos I have now from my heroes I have always requested signed the same way). I then hurried away to show my Wife and kids my wonderful exciting new treasures. Dale Hosted the music concert that night and was very entertaining. When we left Arizona I really did not know that I would ever see Dale Robertson again and thought what a blessing to meet one of my heroes. Months later in July my family went to the Big D vintage toy show in Dallas Texas. Dale Robertson was one of the special guests at the show and we had a wonderful visit with Dale. When Dale heard my oldest Daughters name he is one of the very few people I have ever met that new instantly that it is a name for a certain type of cactus. He then said “I had a horse with that name!” Teasing my daughter I asked Dale – Was it a mean horse? Dale said – “No it was one of the best horses I have ever had!” When we left the toy show I thought how nice to see Dale Robertson again. Several months later in September we attended the Gene Autry Festival in Gene Autry Oklahoma. As we walked in, there was Dale Robertson. At this point my small young children stated that Dale Robertson is everywhere! Again we had a nice visit with Dale and he had our three children gather around him for a photo. What a nice friendly man! Many times our young kids were some of the few children at the festival so they would get extra attention which my wife and I thought was wonderful. Dale went to many of the Gene Autry Festivals and we would visit a little each time we saw him. Dale would host and MC the stage show sometimes and one time I can remember a question and answer segment where Dale would answer whatever folks would ask. My son stood and asked. How did you get to be an actor? Dale answered his question and then had a bit to say about movies that hit home with me and I often quote him. He said – “It used to be when you would go out to a movie you would come away feeling like you had just had a bath, Now it seems when you go to a movie you come away feeling like you need one!” Dale has had a big impact on our society. He starred in many wonderful movies and several TV series. Just last week I found and purchased a 45 RPM record TALES OF WELLS FARGO SUNG AND PLAYED BY THE PRAIRIE CHIEFS! with Dale Robertson on the cover. It has now been years since I have seen Dale. Several months ago a man called me and left a message on my answering machine telling me he was a good friend of Dale and His family and that Dale was not doing well. He wanted to do a tribute of some kind for Dale and asked if I would be willing to help? I was very interested in doing something for Dale but unfortunately the man left no contact information and never called back. Dale was Born July 14 of 1923 in Harrah , Oklahoma. During World War II Dale served in a tank crew and in the combat engineers in North Africa and was wounded twice. Later when he started acting Will Rogers Jr. gave him some advice. “Don’t ever take a dramatic lesson. They will try to put your voice in a dinner jacket, and people like their hominy and grits in everyday clothes.” Thereafter Dale avoided formal acting lessons. One of Will Rogers Sr. famous sayings is “I have never yet met a man that I didn’t like,” There are several ways to take that! One way is to think ( If I am convinced this fellow is a Real MAN ! Not just an adult male but a MAN in every sense of the word everything a boy should grow up to be! Then I like him! ) I truly think Dale Robertson was a MAN in every sense of the word. Someone to look up to! Someone you could ride the river with! and I LIKED HIM! I do hope you rest in peace Dale.
Bob Terry