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Video: Roy Rogers memorabilia hits the block

  1. Transcript of: Roy Rogers memorabilia hits the block

    MATT LAUER, co-host: We are back at 8:45 with a taste of the Wild West right here in Manhattan . Starting tomorrow, Christie's is auctioning off items once owned by the King of the Cowboys and the Queen of the West , Roy Rogers and Dale Evans . Al is just down the block at the auction house with a preview. Al :

    AL ROKER reporting: Hey, thanks a lot, Matt. Joining me is Roy Rogers Jr ., Dusty . Good to see you. Mr. ROY ROGERS Jr.: Al . God bless you . Good to see you, sir.

    ROKER: You know, over 1,000 items, this was in your family's museum...

    Mr. ROGERS: Yes.

    ROKER: ...and how come you're letting it go?

    Mr. ROGERS: Well, we're not really letting it go, we're passing history on to other people. Mom and Dad kept it for 42 years. Dad said when it gets to the point where it's causing you kids a problem just, you know, move it out, so that's what we're doing. And Mom and Dad left us a lot of legacies, the museum and their things were one, music was the next and their books, and we're still able to continue that music in Branson ...

    ROKER: Mm-hmm.

    Mr. ROGERS: ...with my band the High Riders at the Gilley Theatre , but these things have to go out into the public.

    ROKER: So let's take a look at some of this. And you designed this.

    Mr. ROGERS: I did.

    ROKER: This is the Shooting Gallery .

    Mr. ROGERS: Yeah. We had it made in England and shipped over here. I designed it, you know, because I thought I had to have all the elements with Gabby and Pat , which was Dad 's other sidekick for years.

    ROKER: Sure.

    Mr. ROGERS: And the fellow behind the bars and the one behind the window, the bad guys...

    ROKER: Mm-hmm.

    Mr. ROGERS: ...you know, you got to have the bad guys.

    ROKER: Of course .

    Mr. ROGERS: But it's a very active gun...

    ROKER: A little gun -- a little gunplay.

    Mr. ROGERS: Everybody wants to play guns.

    ROKER: Now as far -- as we take a look up here, this -- besides Trigger and Buttermilk and Bullet being the centerpiece of this exhibit and this auction, this Bonneville designed by Nudie , the guy who did all your...

    Mr. ROGERS: Yes.

    ROKER: ...your folks' costumes.

    Mr. ROGERS: He made all of the -- yeah -- all of the outfits for Mom and Dad , all the rhinestones.

    ROKER: And this -- tell me about this car. This is unbelievable.

    Mr. ROGERS: It's a -- it's a '63 Bonneville Pontiac and completely done with all leather interior.

    ROKER: Mm-hmm.

    Mr. ROGERS: There's like 20 different guns on here, there's over 300 silver dollars. And every handle or knob or door handle is a gun, so.

    ROKER: And there are some -- there are some famous names on -- signed on the back of this thing.

    Mr. ROGERS: Elvis Presley , yeah, and John Wayne and Jim Davis , Governor Jim Davis , and Mom and Dad signed it, and so a lot of great names.

    ROKER: You know, what's fascinating also, your dad drove around in this thing.

    Mr. ROGERS: He used to hunt with it, yeah. Hey, I've seen him with bobcats on the hood of it, so.

    ROKER: Oh, my gosh.

    Mr. ROGERS: Yeah.

    ROKER: And of course a cowboy is known for his boots.

    Mr. ROGERS: Absolutely. Yeah. This was his very first pair, you know, and you got to have your baby shoes bronzed, so Dad was no different, he had to have his first boots bronzed, so.

    ROKER: And he -- and he worked on all of his boots himself.

    Mr. ROGERS: He did. Because he was -- he -- his first job was at the United States Shoe Company in Cincinnati , that's what his first job was.

    ROKER: Wow.

    Mr. ROGERS: So he knew how to build boots from the ground up .

    ROKER: That is fascinating. As we head on into here, you know, one of the things that your folks were known for, their costumes.

    Mr. ROGERS: Yes.

    ROKER: I mean, they had some amazing costumes.

    Mr. ROGERS: Yeah. And I think a lot of that had to do with coming to Madison Square Garden because the kids couldn't see them in the middle of the arena so they started putting rhinestones on things...

    ROKER: Mm-hmm.

    Mr. ROGERS: ...and made them pop out in the middle of the arena.

    ROKER: OK, we would see them in public in this, but when...

    Mr. ROGERS: Yes.

    ROKER: ...when you were home with them, what would they wear?

    Mr. ROGERS: Oh, Dad was usually in a pair of jeans, an old -- an old striped shirt and sneakers. That's what he did. That was Dad at home, but...

    ROKER: Tell me about your mom.

    Mr. ROGERS: Mom Dale , I'll tell you, she had her hands full with nine children, you know, they adopted four and had one foster child .

    ROKER: Mm-hmm.

    Mr. ROGERS: And then they had the children between the two of them , and how they survived nine children. I mean, she was the greatest Christian lady you'd ever want to meet.

    ROKER: Tell me about this piece here.

    Mr. ROGERS: Very special piece to mom. It's a -- it's a charm bracelet that Ralph Edwards and "This is Your Life " gave to Mom in 1952 ...

    ROKER: Mm-hmm.

    Mr. ROGERS: ...when they -- when they surprised Dad with that -- with that show. It has -- it completely chronicles Roy and Dale 's life from the time that Dad was in Duck Run , Mom was in Texas , and then it chronicles their life all through in charms that actually work and...

    ROKER: Wow, that's...

    Mr. ROGERS: ...it's made right here in New York .

    ROKER: It's beautiful.

    Mr. ROGERS: Yeah.

    ROKER: And of course , the music collection here of instruments.

    Mr. ROGERS: Guitars.

    ROKER: Your dad was -- had a beautiful voice.

    Mr. ROGERS: Oh, absolutely. Well, he started as a Sons of the Pioneers 1934 , and of course they went on and just -- Dad signed his first contract '38 and went on to be King of the Cowboys .

    ROKER: Well, it's a -- it's a piece of Americana .

    Mr. ROGERS: It is.

    ROKER: We don't have the cowboys to idolize anymore.

    Mr. ROGERS: Not the same heroes we had.

    ROKER: Yeah.

    Mr. ROGERS: No.

    ROKER: Well, Roy Rogers Jr.

    Mr. ROGERS: Al , thank you, sir.

    ROKER: Thank you so much . People want more information, go to our Web site , todayshow.com, to find out about the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans collection that's being auctioned off at Christie's . Matt :

Image:Trigger, the famed horse ridden by Roy Rodgers
Jemal Countess  /  Getty Images
In addition to Rogers' taxidermied horse, his taxidermied dog, Bullet, is also up for auction at Christie's. Trigger died in 1965 at the age of 30, and Rogers had him stuffed and mounted in his classic pose.
updated 7/9/2010 6:27:02 PM ET 2010-07-09T22:27:02

NEW YORK (AP) - The smell of horses and hay permeated the marble-floored galleries at Christie's in Manhattan Friday as potential bidders previewed items including the preserved remains of movie cowboy Roy Rogers' famous horse Trigger.

The auction house is selling items from the now-closed Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum in Branson, Mo., next Wednesday and Thursday.

Unlike the fine furniture, paintings and jewelry that Christie's is famous for, the centerpiece of this auction is a stuffed and mounted horse rearing on its hind legs. It also will feature another type of horsepower - Rogers' 1964 Bonneville convertible adorned with collectible silver dollars, its door handles and gear shift replaced by silver-plated pistols.

The car is estimated to draw $100,000 to $150,000. Trigger is expected to fetch $100,000 to $200,000.

Other items for sale include: Rogers' and Evans' performance outfits; the preserved remains of Rogers' dog, Bullet; about 60 pairs of cowboy boots; the Rogers family dining table; and the Jeep "Nellybelle" from the Roy Rogers TV show.

Michel Bettigole, 70, a prospective buyer who attended the preview, called Rogers one of his heroes and said he grew up watching him chase down bandits on the big screen.

"But there was never any violence," he said. "He always shot the gun out of the bad guy's hand. It was good morals."

Hundreds of items will be offered for sale, many of them with estimated prices in the low hundreds. Hand-drawn music for the theme song "Happy Trails" has a pre-sale estimate of $300 to $500. So does a grouping of two Rogers' guitars.

Bettigole was skeptical about some of the estimates.

"A Roy Rogers watch that Roy Rogers wore for $400? Forget about it!" he said.

Cathy Elkies, Christie's director of iconic collections, said the estimates are based on the intrinsic values of the items, but prices could go much higher.

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"What someone wants to pay for something Roy Rogers had, that's the wild card," she said.

Christie's has been overwhelmed with calls from everyone from museum representatives to Roy Rogers fans who wanted a piece of the King of the Cowboys, said Linda Kohn-Sherwood, who is helping oversee the sale. Part of Rogers' appeal was his charitable image outside the studio. He and Evans adopted several children and started a foundation for children in need.

"They were the Brad and Angelina of the time," Kohn-Sherwood said.

Near the entrance at Christie's Friday, doorman Gil Perez, 58, got to be the famous cowboy for a day. Perez wore one of Rogers' red, embroidered performance shirts and toted a Roy Rogers guitar as he welcomed visitors to the gallery. He said he got his lucky break because he was about the same size as Rogers.

"I'm so honored, because I grew up watching him," he said. "But there's no way I'm trying to imitate him, because there's only one Roy."

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: Roy Rogers memorabilia

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  1. Life magazine cover

    Memorabilia related to iconic cowboy actor Roy Rogers are going on Christie's auction block in New York City July 15 and 16, including the stuffed remains of the King of the Cowboys' famed golden palomino Trigger, expected to rein in up to $200,000. The items come from the now-closed Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum in Branson, Mo.

    Life magazine featured the King of the Cowboys riding a rearing Trigger on its July 12, 1943 issue. The framed cover also shows one of two Bohlin saddles that will be offered at auction. (Courtesy of Christie's) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Roy's first boots

    Eagles adorn Roy Rogers' first pair of cowboy boots, which have been bronzed and mounted. They are estimated to bring $3,000 to $4,000. (Courtesy of Christie's) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Dale Evans photo

    This photo of Dale Evans, who was not only Roy Rogers' wife but a successful singer and songwriter in her own right, is hand-tinted. Framed with leather corners, it has the initials "RR" in one corner. (Courtesy of Christie's) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Roy's custom Bonneville

    Customized by famed "Rodeo Tailor to the Stars" Nudie Cohn, who designed outfits for everyone from Elvis to ZZ Top, this 1964 Pontiac Bonneville convertible features a hand-tooled leather interior as well as hundreds of genuine silver dollars and chrome-plated guns, many of which function as handles and controls (note six-shooters atop the headlights and in center of horseshoe hood ornament). A 6-foot set of Texas longhorns adorns the front of the car, while the trunk is emblazoned ROY ROGERS. It is estimated to bring $100,000 to $150,000 at auction. (Courtesy of Christie's) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Roy, Trigger and Bullet

    This sepia-toned photo of Roy Rogers, his golden palomino Trigger, and his German shepherd Bullet measures a huge 6 feet, 3 inches wide by 5 feet, 3 inches tall. It is expected to bring $300 to $500. (Courtesy of Christie's) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Rogers family dining room

    This is the round dining table that Roy, Dale and family would gather around for meals. The offering also includes chairs, rug, hanging wheel chandelier, several pictures, a family photo and a dinner bell. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Nellybelle

    Along with Roy and Dale, their horses Trigger and Buttermilk, and Roy's dog Bullet, one of the most memorable characters on the Roy Rogers TV show that ran from 1951 through 1957 was inanimate: Nellybelle, a 1946 Willys CJ-2A Jeep. Though Roy owned the vehicle, it was driven in the show by his comic sidekick Pat Brady, who was always trying to coax it into cooperating with him. Nellybelle is expected to bring $20,000 to $30,000. (Courtesy of Christie's) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Baseball memorabilia

    Roy Rogers owned a collection of baseball memorabilia as well as Western mementos. On auction are a Gaylord Perry Hall of Famer ball inscribed to Rogers by Perry, with trading card; a Billy Williams Hall of Fame Cubs ball, also inscribed with trading card; a Chuck Knoblauch 1991 American League Rookie of the Year autographed ball and trading card; and a Jack Morris 1991 World Series Most Valuable Player autographed ball and trading card. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Buttermilk

    Dale Evans' horse, Buttermilk, was originally an abused animal rescued on his way to the slaughterhouse by a cattle farmer. Treated with love, the rescued quarter horse acquired a sunny disposition and was named Soda before being sold to Dale Evans, who renamed him Buttermilk after the old song "Ole Buttermilk Sky." Buttermilk could actually outrun Trigger, and when he died at age 31, he was stuffed and put on display in the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum along with Trigger and Bullet (in foreground). (Courtesy of Christie's) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Bullet

    Bullet, Roy Rogers' German shepherd, made his debut in "Spoilers of the Plains" in 1951, billed as "the wonder dog." Bullet was also a regular on TV's "Roy Rogers Show" in the 1950s and '60s. Bullet was the dog's real name, and he really was Roy Rogers' and Dale Evans' family pet. His stuffed remains are estimated to bring $10,000 to $15,000. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Photographs

    This color photo of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans is one of three in an offering expected to bring $200 to $300. The others are a black-and-white photo of Rogers performing, and a black-and-white shot of his comical sidekicks George "Gabby" Hayes and Pat Brady. (Courtesy of Christie's) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Trigger

    The "Smartest Horse in the Movies," Trigger could do 100 stunts, including untying ropes and shooting a gun. Originally named Golden Cloud, the golden palomino had already appeared in such movies as "The Adventures of Robin Hood" when Roy Rogers bought him for $2,500 after riding him just 100 yards. Rogers never used reins, spurs or a whip to guide Trigger through countless films, TV episodes and personal appearances; just a touch and a pat. When Trigger died in 1965 one day short of age 31, Rogers couldn't bear to "put him in the ground" and had him mounted in a rearing postion and put on display. (Courtesy of Christie's) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. "Happy Trails to You"

    The theme song for Roy Rogers' and Dale Evans' radio show in the 1940s and their television show in the 1950s, "Happy Trails" was sung as a duet by the two stars and released as a record in 1952. Dale Evans composed the song, shown here hand-drawn and mounted on foam-core board. (Courtesy of Christie's) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Saddle on Trigger Jr.

    This special custom parade saddle ordered from the shop of Edward H. Bohlin around 1949 was used on both Trigger and Trigger Jr. Mounted in engraved sterling silver and adorned with solid-gold figures of cowboys performing rodeo stunts, it was Roy Rogers' last and most ornate saddle. It is expected to bring $100,000 to $150,000 at auction. (Courtesy of Christie's) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Early married life of Roy and Dale

    Shown is one of a collection of black-and-white photographs depicting the marriage of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, who were wed on New Year's Eve 1947 at the Flying L Ranch in Davis, Oklahoma, where they had filmed the western "Home in Oklahoma" earlier that year. Some of the images include Roy "Dusty" Rogers Jr., Rogers' son from his first marriage. (Courtesy of Christie's) Back to slideshow navigation
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