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|Ritter in May 1966|
|Birth name||Woodward Maurice Ritter|
|Born||January 12, 1905|
Murvaul, Texas, U.S.
|Died||January 2, 1974 (aged 68)|
Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
|Labels||Columbia, Decca, Capitol|
Woodward Maurice “Tex” Ritter (January 12, 1905 – January 2, 1974) was an American country music singer and actor popular from the mid 1930s into the 1960s, and the patriarch of the Ritter acting family (son John, grandsons Jason and Tyler, and granddaughter Carly). He is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
- 1Early life
- 3Personal life
- 9External links
Tex Ritter was born Woodward Maurice Ritter on January 12, 1905, in Murvaul, Texas, the son of Martha Elizabeth (née Matthews) and James Everett Ritter. He grew up on his family’s farm in Panola County, Texas, and attended grade school in Carthage, Texas. He attended South Park High School in Beaumont, Texas. After graduating with honors, he entered the University of Texas at Austin in 1922 to study pre-law and major in government, political science, and economics. After traveling to Chicago with a musical troupe, he entered Northwestern Law School.
Radio and Broadway
An early pioneer of country music, Ritter soon became interested in show business. In 1928, he sang on KPRC-AM in Houston, Texas, a 30-minute program of mostly cowboy songs. That same year, he moved to New York City and landed a job in the men’s chorus of the Broadway show The New Moon (1928). He appeared as cowboy Cord Elam in the Broadway production Green Grow the Lilacs (1931), the basis for the musical Oklahoma! He also played the part of Sagebrush Charlie in The Round Up (1932) and Mother Lode (1934).
In 1932, he starred in New York City’s first broadcast Western, The Lone Star Rangers on WOR-AM, where he sang and told tales of the Old West. Ritter wrote and starred in Cowboy Tom’s Roundup on WINS-AM in 1933, a daily children’s cowboy program aired over two other East Coast stations for three years. He also performed on the radio show WHN Barndance and sang on NBC Radio shows; and appeared in several radio dramas, including CBS’s Bobby Benson’s Adventures.
Ritter began recording for American Record Company (Columbia Records) in 1933. His first release was “Goodbye Ole Paint”. He also recorded “Rye Whiskey” for the label. In 1935, he signed with Decca Records, where he recorded his first original recordings, “Sam Hall” and “Whoopie Ti Yi Yo“. He recorded 29 songs for Decca, the last in 1939 in Los Angeles as part of Tex Ritter and His Texans.
In 1936, Ritter moved to Los Angeles. His motion picture debut was in Song of the Gringo (1936) for Grand National Pictures. He starred in 12 B-movie Westerns for Grand National, including Headin’ for the Rio Grande (1936), and Trouble in Texas (1937) co-starring Rita Hayworth (then known as Rita Cansino).
After starring in Utah Trail (1938), Ritter left financially troubled Grand National. Between 1938 and 1945, he starred in around forty “singing