What History Taught Me

Dick Baxter

western-history-dick-baxter-show-biz-manager

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I fell in love with the West when I first saw a Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Western at the Ritz Theatre in my hometown, Shelbyville, Indiana.

Roy & Dale’s secret to success was foremost their talent and their ability to make their fans feel like family.

History has taught me to be flexible, learn to roll with the punches and always stay true to yourself.

Nobody told me show business is not easy. Actress Bette Davis said, “show business is not for the weak.”

I knew I’d be good once I got over my indecision of becoming a personal manager in show business. You see, my maternal grandfather was a medical doctor and surgeon, Dr. Francis Dunn. I felt my mother would have liked for me to have been interested in medicine.

I learned everything I know from Art Rush, Roy Rogers’s personal manager and agent; Edna Whiting of the Art Whiting Agency; Roy and Dale; and my ability to learn.

My biggest influence has been my high school music teacher Pauline Swinford.

When it comes to Western writers, nobody can touch Louis L’Amour.

The problem with most people today is we seem to have become a “me” society. It’s time we got back to a “we” society.

My daddy always told me, “Whatever you do in life son, be the best you can be.” I believe he would be proud of me.

My mother always told me, “Never make fun of the less fortunate. Have some compassion for all.”

My only regret is my mother and father could not enjoy my success. My father passed away in 1962, and my mother, in 1969.

The secret to a happy marriage is to marry your best friend. Don’t try to change each other. Don’t argue over small stuff. Be honest and trust each other. And laugh together every day; it’s good for the spirit. As of December 9 of this year, Ellie and I will be married 57 years, so I feel I’m somewhat of an authority on marriage.

I have the most fun when I am spending quality time with Ellie and on visits with our 86-year-old (going on 26) friend and neighbor Loetta. She’s a hoot!

I wish I had a dollar for every time I turned down an opportunity to manage an artist and then see that person blossom into a wonderful entertainer.

Don’t get me started on show business today. Oh my, how it has changed. Now it’s reality show and sensationalism.

 

Dick Baxter, Show Biz Manager

In honor of the 100th anniversary of Dale Evans’s birthday (she was born on October 31), her former manager Dick Baxter offered to share some of his memories of the cowgirl actress and her equally-famous actor husband, Roy Rogers. He met the two in 1959, while he was working in publicity at the Indiana State Fair where Rogers and Evans were headliners. (He and his wife, Ellie, are shown flanked by the two stars.) For 18 years, starting in 1969, Baxter served as Evans’s show business manager. Baxter chronicles his career managing Hollywood stars in his book Standing Tall in the Shadows. He currently lives in Tehachapi, California, with his wife.


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True West captures the spirit of the American West with authenticity, personality and humor by linking our history to our present. Whether you call it the Wild West, the Old West or the Far West, America's frontier history comes to life in True West, the world's oldest, continuously published Western Americana magazine.

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