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BOB NOLAN: EARLY LIFE AND CAREER (1944-1946)

 

Reunited with his Daughter

Exhibit cards

Sailing

Bob Nolan and the Sons of the Pioneers Work Chronology

 

Movies made from 1944-1946:

HANDS ACROSS THE BORDER (Republic / Rogers - 1944 01 05)

COWBOY AND THE SENORITA (Republic / Rogers - 1944 05 12)

YELLOW ROSE OF TEXAS (Republic / Rogers - 1944 06 24)

SONG OF NEVADA (Republic / Rogers - 1944 08 05)

SAN FERNANDO VALLEY (Republic / Rogers - 1944 09 15)

LIGHTS OF OLD SANTA FE (Republic / Rogers - 1944 11 06)

HOLLYWOOD CANTEEN (Republic / Rogers - 1944 12 30)

UTAH (Republic / Rogers - 1945 03 21)

BELLS OF ROSARITA (Republic / Rogers - 1945 06 19)

MAN FROM OKLAHOMA (Republic / Rogers - 1945 08 01)

SUNSET IN EL DORADO (Republic / Rogers - 1945 09 24)

DON’T FENCE ME IN (Republic / Rogers - 1945 10 20)

ALONG THE NAVAJO TRAIL (Republic / Rogers - 1945 12 15)

SONG OF ARIZONA (Republic / Rogers - 1946 03 09)

HOME ON THE RANGE (Republic / Rogers - 1946 04 18)

DING DONG WILLIAMS (RKO - 1946 04 15)

RAINBOW OVER TEXAS (Republic / Rogers - 1946 05 09)

MY PAL TRIGGER (Republic / Rogers - 1946 07 10)

UNDER NEVADA SKIES (Republic / Rogers - 1946 08 26)

ROLL ON TEXAS MOON (Republic / Rogers - 1946 09 12)

HOME IN OKLAHOMA (Republic / Rogers - 1946 11 08)

HELDORADO (Republic / Rogers - 1946 12 15)

 

NOTE: Between 1943 and 1945, due to wartime restrictions, the Pioneers made no recordings. On December 28, 1945, they signed with RCA Victor and recorded into early 1946 with Bob, Tim, Ken Carson, the Farr Brothers and Shug Fisher. Except for one year with Decca’s Coral label in 1954 the Pioneers would remain with RCA from 1945 through 1969. Now, though, RCA Victor decided to record the Pioneers differently by backing them with fuller instrumentation and musical arrangements  by Vaughn Monroe and his orchestra.

    In 1944, Dale Evans was cast with Roy in Republic's "Cowboy and the Senorita". This meant that she would also become part of Roy's road shows with the Sons of the Pioneers and she joined them on NBC Radio.

    Roy's shirts were becoming more elaborate. The Roy Rogers Championship Rodeo was being formed for touring and made its debut at the Los Angeles Coliseum. He rode Trigger on the Paul Revere ride from Boston to Concord for a bond drive plus a 3-week appearance at the Madison Square Garden Rodeo in the Fall. He attended the opening game of the World Series at Yankee Stadium, met Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey and former President Herbert Hoover. In November, he went on air with a program sponsored by Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.

 

 

On March 17, 1944, after Pearl Harbor, Martha Mears and the Pioneers broadcast a show featuring Half Way 'Round the World, the song Bob dedicated to his US Marine brother, Cpt. Earl Nolan, who was serving in the Pacific. Lloyd Perryman always had difficulty singing this song because it brought back the homesick memories of when he was serving in Burma, often in hospital with malaria. We do know he sang it once in a 25 December 1952 Lucky U program but he didn't record the song himself until 1966 for RCA Victor. He couldn't, he said, because his throat would tighten at the memory of that long, lonely time he spent so far from his little family. Tim Spencer wrote a song for the absent Lloyd. Tim Spencer also wrote a song for the absent Lloyd.

 

In later years, Dale Warren related to Hugh McLennan another little story from Ken Carson which had taken place about that time:

 

Ken Carson came in and took Lloyd's place during the war. They were on location. Ken was sitting down below the road, fooling around with a little prank. Bob was standing up next to the stagecoach and Karl was up on top of the stagecoach. He [Ken] could take a little pebble and put it between his fingers and he'd flip it. He flipped that thing and he hit Bob right on the back of the head with it. Bob had to turn around and when he turned around, he was looking right up at Karl and Karl had this funny grin on his face. Bob says, "I'm gonna come there and get you!" Of course, you know Bob Nolan was a huge fellow and he started climbing up that stagecoach right at Karl. Karl had a prop guitar in his hands - not a real one, you know - a prop guitar. And as Bob was coming up, he took it and busted it over Bob's head. 'Course it was made out of balsa wood and this hurt Bob a little, but Bob got tickled. He'd always get tickled, so he started laughing.

 

"I got to know Tim [Spencer] pretty well. He was not a very talkative guy but was a very sincere, very nice man. It was always a good pleasure being with him and I enjoyed his company. I think he was more outgoing than Nolan was. Nolan kind of stayed within himself a lot. Hugh and Karl were constantly at each other's throats all the time. They argued 18 hours a day. Tim was very nice to me - I was kind of the kid of the family. I helped him write a few bars of "Room Full of Roses" - just suggestions, things like that, but nothing I could claim any part of." (Ken Carson from p. 15 "Song of the West" magazine, Fall 1990 by William Jacobsen)

 

Ken Carson remembered that he and Tim were roommates whenever they were out of town or on tour. "I got to know Tim pretty well. He was not a very talkative guy but was a very sincere, very nice man. It was always a good pleasure being with him and I enjoyed his company. I think he was more outgoing than Nolan was. Nolan kind of stayed within himself a lot. Hugh and Karl were constantly at each other's throats all the time. They argued 18 hours a day. Tim was very nice to me - I was kind of the kid of the family. I helped him write a few bars of "Room Full of Roses" - just suggestions, things like that, but nothing I could claim any part of." (“Song of the West”, Fall 1990, p. 15 “Ken Carson Remembers Tim Spencer” by William Jacobson.)

    The man: Bob Nolan!! To know Bob Nolan was to know a very special piece of history. Those of us who were privileged to know him and be as close as I was to him is a most treasured period I shall long cherish.

    "Bob was a special 'one of a kind' man, a loner to some who really never knew him. A silent man, thoughtful in every respect toward his fellow man. Never once did I ever hear an unkind, malicious word from the man who composed two of the greatest all-time western songs, "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" and "Cool Water".

    "One thing I discovered about Nolan; he had no aspirations toward becoming a great Star though I know he had at one time been considered ... as a potential candidate for a series of his own.

    "Bob and I got along extremely well. He could not write the music to the songs he composed and that's where I was able to help him, having studied harmony & composition before I joined the group. When he got an idea for a song he had dreamed up, he'd get on the phone & say, "Hey, Carson, bring your guitar & some paper and come on over" even if it was 1:00 a. m. and I had been in bed three hours. "Oh, this won't take long," he'd say. Well, three hours later, we had it down on paper.

    "One song I especially remember I wrote down for him was "From Half Way Round the World" [sic] which Lloyd later recorded ... and what a beautiful rendition he did of the song. Bob was a master of utilizing words that made the perfect marriage of music and lyrics come together.

    "There won't be another Bob Nolan around in this or any future lifetime. He truly was one of a kind. I still treasure a picture taken in Madison Square Garden on one of our trips to the rodeo there, of Bob and myself. Ah, memories." (Ken Carson to Michelle Sundin)

 

REUNION WITH HIS DAUGHTER

1944 saw Roberta (Bobbie) reunited with her father at last:

 

My mother relented when I was 15 years old and took me to meet him when he and the Pioneers were performing at the Oakland Auditorium in Oakland, California. After that meeting, I spent a few weeks at a time a couple times a year with him and P-Nuts. (Roberta Nolan Mileusnich)

 

Bob, Bobbie, Trigger and Roy

1945

(The Calin Coburn Collections ©2004)

 


 

He was not difficult to live with unless someone tried to make unnecessary conversation. He would not discuss events or personalities, only ideas. We had many wonderful philosophical conversations. He was always searching, thought there had to be something out there he hadn’t yet discovered; that there was something more to life if he could only find it. (Roberta Nolan Mileusnich)

 


 

Bob was still writing for the Republic Roy Rogers movies, though less frequently. Fred Goodwin is in possession of a music non-exclusive license for motion pictures for a song Tim Spencer wrote for Lights of Old Santa Fe - Trigger Hasn't Got a Purty Figger. Tim was paid $200.00 for the song so we must assume that is what Bob Nolan now received for his own compositions.

 

Excerpt from the Prairie Prattler Vol 2 No 3:

October 18, 1944 was a very happy day for S/Sgt. and Mrs. Lloyd Perryman. Why? On this eventful date, the stork dropped a little stranger down in Hollywood. The Lloyd Perrymans are the proud parents of a son - Wayne Lloyd Perryman. From all reports, little Wayne looks like his famous daddy.


Lloyd has had his address changed again:
S/Sgt. Lloyd W. Perryman, 39570629
36 Spt. Soc. Co. H2-MCAC-FWB
Echron, APO 689 c/o Postmaster
New York, New York

 

he attractive and personable wives of the Sons of the Pioneers often got together and they became close over the years. The stork graces this table and Buddie is the guest of honor.

 

Baby shower for Buddie Perryman. 

Right to left: Buddie (Mrs Lloyd) Perryman, seated, Velma (Mrs. Tim) Spencer, Mae (Mrs. Karl) Farr,

P-Nuts (Mrs. Bob) Nolan, Rosita (Mrs. Hugh) Farr, Fayetta (Mrs. Pat) Brady, Claudina (Fayetta's twin sister),

Fern (Mrs. Sam) Allen, Peggy (Mrs. Shug) Fisher, Margo (friend of Fern's).

(The Calin Coburn Collections ©2004)

 

 

The Roy Rogers Show, sponsored by Goodyear.

(The Calin Coburn Collections ©2004)

 

The Roy Rogers Show went on the Mutual Network Tuesday evenings at 8:30 PM beginning November 21, 1944. Sponsored by Goodyear Tires, the show featured Roy and The Sons of the Pioneers in Western favorites like Tumbling Tumbleweeds, Cool Water and Don’t Fence Me In. Much of the show was banter and song, with Roy and songstress Pat Friday doing vocal solos, Perry Botkin leading the Goodyear orchestra and Verne Smith announcing. Over the years, the lighter material gradually became a western thriller.

 

Newspaper clipping courtesy of Fred Sopher

(Courtesy of Fred Sopher)

 

In 1945, Roy appeared in Col. Jim Eskew's Texas Rodeo in Philadelphia from September 23-30. The Roy Rogers Rodeo made its second appearance in Los Angeles and the crowd was estimated at 80,000. The Rodeo then toured Los Angeles, Houston, St. Louis, Chicago, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Detroit, Philadelphia, Boston and New York plus the smaller cities between, finishing at Madison Square Garden in October.

 

The Draft Board reclassified Roy as 1-A which meant he was close to being drafted but before Roy and the older Sons of the Pioneers could be called-up for service, V-E Day [May 8, 1945] arrived and the service stopped inducting anyone over thirty. Neither Roy nor Bob were drafted. Roy was 34 years old and Bob was 37.

 

One other day that we got on the set, we were greeted by six solemn Indians. After taking a second look, we discovered it was the Pioneers made up in Indian outfits for their song "Cherokee." Wait until you see them - they look swell. Bob had a chief's headdress on and I was informed he was "Heap Big Chief Standing Room Only" while Ken informed me that he was "Little Chief Pushum Up Daisies." They worked on the set until pretty late and had to rush for their broadcast - in Indian outfits. Those of you who heard the program on March 27th, may remember all the laughing that was going on. Everyone was completely surprised, including Roy as he had been on location that day and came straight to the broadcast, too. (Martha Retsch, p. 4, Prairie Prattler Vol. 3 No. 1, 1945)

 

The mike on the right says Mutual so this would be from the Roy Rogers Show which was on Mutual from November 21, 1944 thru May 15, 1945. The female vocalist on the series was Pat Friday who also did a lot of dubbing in film musicals. Also notice that Deuce Spriggens is in the group instead of Shug Fisher. For reasons I've never understood Deuce played on the radio show while Shug played every other appearance the Pioneers made during those years.  According to my info that was the last day of shooting on the film and the day of Roy's radio broadcast. Roy sang "Roll Along Prairie Moon", Roy & Pioneers sang "My Saddle Pals and I" and the Pioneers sang "Welcome to the Spring" and "Yodel Your Troubles Away". Pat Friday sang "More and More"  written by , Jerome Kern and E. Y. Harburg (he wrote the songs for the Wizard of Oz.  (Laurence Zwisohn)

 

 

 

 

On a trip to California in 1945, Martha Retsch (President of the Sons of the Pioneers fan club), was treated to several visits to Republic Studios where Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers were making the film, Man from Oklahoma. Here, in her words:

 

         On March 5th, we really had a treat. Tim arranged for the four of us to visit Republic Studios. That was something we had all wanted to do and we were really thrilled at the idea. A new movie was in the making and the boys were recording the songs for it. While on the set, we had the opportunity of meeting Roy Rogers again and also Dale Evans and Gabby Hayes. Oh, yes, also met Roy's little daughter, Cheryl, and she's a little doll.
        To get back to the songs now. The new movie - Roy's last by the way - is titled "Man from Oklahoma". Roy and the Pioneers did "Prairie Mary", and "Draggin' the Wagon." The Pioneers did "Cherokee" and the whole cast did "Skies are Bluer" or "Oklahoma USA". Oh, yes, Roy and Dale did "The Martins and the Coys." It was really very interesting and a little strange. The songs would be recorded then they'd troupe out of the recording studio and listen to themselves on the screen then back in to do it a little better. It took them from about 10:00 am until about 10:30 pm to get the songs recorded just right. So you can see that things are done right and to a perfection.
        Another day when we were lucky enough to get on the set, a few of the scenes were being filmed. The setting was the interior of a City Hall and the discussion was the wagon race which was to be held. This scene had Dale Evans, Gabby Hayes and Roger Pryor, along with the Sons and Roy. Quite a lot of rehearsing was done before the scenes were shot, too. One incident that was really odd - and comic - featured Roy and Dale. Their families are feudin' throughout the picture and when Dale starts singing, Roy is motioned to sing with her. They're singing "The Martins and the Coys" and keep grabbing the mike from each other. Roy got so enthusiastic he pulled the mike apart. The song was being played back and Roy and Dale were singing a duet with themselves.
(Martha Retsch, p. 4, Prairie Prattler Vol. 3 No. 1, 1945)

 

 

Calin Coburn Collections ©2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Courtesy of Fred Sopher)

 

(Courtesy of Fred Sopher)

 

 

(The Calin Coburn Collections ©2004)

        

This photo appeared in card vending machines with similar cards of all the movie cowboys.

(The Calin Coburn Collections ©2004)

 

Exhibit cards were predominantly found in vending machines in arcades, boardwalks, etc. Featuring primarily athletes, cowboys, movie and TV stars, they were manufactured from the 40s to late 60s. A copy of the performer's signature and "Printed in the U.S.A." are the only words on the card. While most cards are black & white, some are tinted in brown or pink. They measure approximately 3 1/2 by 5 1/2 inches. This one is green.

 

 

 

Exhibit card from the Calin Coburn Collection with a selection of examples below:

 

        Front and side view of a typical exhibit card vending machine.                         Exhibit card with 4 stars.

 

Selectograph No. 5

Stewart-Croxton Studios, 1408 Westwood Blvd., West Los Angeles 24, CA.

 

Bob Nolan loved to sail and kept his own sailboat, named in Spanish for his wife P-Nuts – Maní. The next group of photos were taken the same day at Big Bear Lake, California. There is some disagreement as to the year but Bob is wearing his 1945 shirt. These photos were taken by Republic Pictures and numbered. Some of them made their way to magazines and books, some were in Bob Nolan's personal collection, and others were rescued by Terry Sevigny Scott.

 

Big Bear Lake, California

(Terry Sevigny Collection)

 

Shug Fisher has a headlock on big Bob Nolan

Private Collection

 

Big Bear Lake, California

(Terry Sevigny Collection)

 

Big Bear Lake, California

(Terry Sevigny Collection)

 

Big Bear Lake, California

(Terry Sevigny Collection)

 

Bob kept the next two photos in his photo album.  The others are from different sources.

 

 

(The Calin Coburn Collections ©2004)

 

Shug, Ken and Bob

(The Calin Coburn Collections ©2004)

 

 

Comparing boots with Jill Browning, a chorus girl from the film, Utah.

(The Calin Coburn Collections ©2004)

 

(Courtesy of James d'Arc, Brigham Young University)

Bob, fans and a cougar skin.

(The Calin Coburn Collections ©2004)

 

Bob Nolan, 1945 10 09 State Theatre, Hartford, Connecticut

(Terry Sevigny Collection)

 

Before the older Sons of the Pioneers could be called-up for service, V-E Day [May 8, 1945] arrived and the service stopped inducting anyone over thirty. By 1946 there were 700 Roy Rogers fan clubs in the US alone and he was receiving close to 90,000 letters a month. Roy's "Weekly Roundup" radio show debuted over NBC, sponsored by Miles Laboratories. His annual income was reported to be $250,000 a year. 1946 also brought him the first of a series of personal tragedies. On October 28, Arline gave birth to their son, Roy Rogers Jr. and six days later she died of an embolism.

 

Note from Glenn Spencers's son, Vic: "All the [Spencer] cousins were at Tim's house swimming. Tim lived in the San Fernando Valley and was the only family member with a pool. Raylene, Tim's oldest daughter couldn't swim. She fell in and started screaming that she couldn't swim! Vic remembers Bob jumping in cowboy boots, cowboy outfit and all and pulling her out to safety. The kids always said Bob saved her life."

 

Grace Purdy's Western Music Corral, c. 1946

Karl Farr, Tim Spencer, look over Spade Cooley's shoulder (as he looks through Songs of the Songs of the Prairie folio with Bob Nolan), Hugh Farr and Ken Carson

Grace Purdy was a small entrepreneur who kept a kiosk at dances and shows, etc, selling western music, doing her best to promote western swing.

 

By 1946 there were 700 Roy Rogers fan clubs in the US alone and he was receiving close to 90,000 letters a month. Roy's "Weekly Roundup" radio show debuted over NBC, sponsored by Miles Laboratories. His annual income was reported to be $250,000 a year. 1946 also brought Roy the first of a series of personal tragedies. On October 28, Arline gave birth to their son, Roy Rogers Jr. and six days later she died of an embolism.

 

 

 

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