Roy Rogers' iconic horse lives on, stuffed and high-priced. We take a look inside his recent bizarre auction
All week long, city slickers, tourists and fans moseyed in off 49th Street to see Trigger (and Bullet, Buttermilk and Trigger Jr.) and to preview the movie star's memorabilia before the big auction on July 14. The powerful steed reared on hind legs in Christie's atrium in the pose made famous on the July 12, 1943, cover of Life magazine. "The Smartest Horse in the Movies" could hula dance, shoot a gun, and untie ropes — everything, it seemed, but read his fan mail (100 letters a week).
It wasn't Trigger alone that moved people but what he represents: an era when the good guys wore white, the bad guys never smiled, and cowboys defined and defended America. "This is one of the most iconic pieces I've ever sold," said auctioneer Cathy Elkies. "And I've sold John Travolta's 'Saturday Night Fever' suit, Rosebud from 'Citizen Kane,' and the dress Marilyn Monroe wore when she sang 'Happy Birthday' to JFK."
Phyllis Zavasky, of the Upper West Side, examined Trigger's proud arched neck, his perked ears, docile eyes, and the way his muscles were articulated, and gasped, "This is a new level of stuffication."
"Back in the Saddle Again"* played on auction night as Gil the doorman, in full cowboy attire, welcomed guests. He was Roy's size and was modeling the "Yellow Rose of Texas" shirt, a flamboyant number with pearl buttons and rhinestone fringe designed by Nudie Cohen, "Rodeo Tailor to the Stars."** Nudie's granddaughter Jamie (in a Gram Parsons' marijuana jacket) posed for a photo with Trigger. "It's very sad. I could never do this. I'd live in one of Nudie's cars before I'd sell it," she said.
*A Gene Autry song. Shouldn't they have played "Happy Trails"? Them city slickers cain't get nuthin' right that's important!
**Known to some as "Schmatta boy to country music".
This is a fun article and you should go read, but nowhere on the internets can I find the answer to my burning question:
How much did the stuffed Dale Evans go for?