Rex Allen: The Arizona Cowboy of Willcox

Rex-Allen-Statue.jpg

REX ALLEN
The Arizona Cowboy of Willcox

 

A Love Your Parks Tour Music Story by Lisa D. Smith and Nancy J. Reid, assigned by Rob Ridgeway, creator of Spontuneous ‘The Song Game.’

On Big Blend Radio, Steve Schneickert recalls the Hollywood History of Rex Elvie Allen ‘The Arizona Cowboy’, who was a prominent actor, singer and songwriter, and narrator of many Disney nature and Western productions. 

From Cochise to Geronimo, and Wyatt Earp to Doc Holliday, Cochise County in Southeast Arizona is known for being the Land of Legends. And as we discovered on our visit to downtown Willcox, one of those legends includes Rex Elvie Allen, ‘The Arizona Cowboy.’

Rex Allen recorded a number of successful country songs and albums with Mercury Records and Decca, with his trademark song “Streets of Laredo” selling over 3 million copies. Known as the last of the singing cowboys in Western film, he also starred in 39 episodes of “The Frontier Doctor” and was the famed voice of over 100 nature films for Walt Disney. Along with being honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Allen was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.

Allen was born just north outside of Willcox, historically a railroad and cattle ranching community. If you visit the historic downtown district, you’ll see the Rex Allen “Arizona Cowboy” Museum & Willcox Cowboy Hall of Fame, which opened in 1989. From movie posters and records to his cowboy gear and even the buggy used in “Frontier Doctor,” this small museum is packed to the brim with memorabilia showcasing Allen’s life and success in music, film and radio.

Across from the museum in Railroad Park, you’ll see a large bronze statue of Rex Allen with plaques honoring his career and legacy. A molded bronze heart with arteries is inside the sculpture, a declaration that his heart will always be in Willcox. Allen’s beloved and famous horse Koko is buried at the foot of the statue.  Allen passed away in Tucson, on December 17, 1999. At his request, his ashes were scattered around the sculpture. The sculpture was created by artist Buck McCain and dedicated on July 4, 1991.

Every October since 1951, Willcox has proudly hosted Rex Allen Days, a festival that celebrates the region’s southwestern heritage and culture, and also gives back to the community.

The Rex Allen Museum is located at 150 Railroad Ave, Willcox, AZ 85643, phone: (520) 384-4583.

Along with Rex Allen’s legacy, Willcox has become a destination for travelers visiting Chiricahua National Monument, Fort Bowie National Historic Site and the Cochise Stronghold. Local activities include museums, birdwatching and outdoor adventure, wine tasting, and visiting farms and u-pick orchards. More at www.ExploreWillcox.com

 

 

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