Country Music Singer, Actor. A major star in the 1930s and 1940s as western cowboy for PRC and Monogram, he was also the father of actor John Ritter. Known as “America's Most Beloved Cowboy”, he went on to star at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. Along his wife, Dorothy Fay Southworth, he made four films – “Song of the Buckaroo” (Monogram, 1938), “Sundown on the Prairie” (Monogram, 1939), “Rollin' Westward” (Monogram, 1939) and “Rainbow Over the Range” (Monogram, 1940). Dedicated to preserving the history of country music, he spearheaded the effort to build the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1964 (as it's 5th member), ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for the 1970 United States Senate race, and was inducted into the Cowboy Hall of Fame (Hall of Great Western Performers) in 1980. His hit songs include ‘Rye Whiskey’ (1931), ‘Jingle, Jangle, Jingle, You Two-Timed Me One Time Too Often, Jealous Heart, Boll Weevil’ (1945), ‘Wayward Wind, You Are My Sunshine’ (1946), ‘High Noon’ (1952), and ‘I Dreamed of A Hillbilly Heaven’ (1961). His performance of "High Noon", the title song for the 1952 Gary Cooper/Grace Kelly movie, is one of the classics of the film history. He performed in radio, television, approximately 75 western films, spending his later years with the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.
1915–2003 (m. 1941)