- (1911–1967)Born Lester Allen Burnette, Smiley Burnette earned the nickname “Frog” due to his unusual voice. Asinger and a songwriter in his own right, Burnette frequently burbled comic frog-like sounds in his songs. Besides his trademark voice, he always wore a black hat with a pointed crown and the front brim pinned back hillbilly style. Frog rode with Sunset Carson, Roy Rogers, and other cowboy stars, but he is usually associated with Gene Autry since they starred together in over 60 films. As a Western singer/songwriter, Burnette is best remembered for his duet with Autry, “Ridin’ Down the Canyon” sung in Tumbling Tumbleweeds (1935). Burnette was the only sidekick to star in his own Westerns. He was top-billed in four Republic films, all in 1944: Call of the Rockies, Bordertown Trail, Code of the Prairie, and Firebrands of Arizona. In all four he was top-billed over Sunset Carson.
Historical Dictionary of Westerns in Cinema. Paul Varner. 2012.
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