The life and times of Tex Ritter

Joe Guilbeau, Humorist

Born Woodward Maurice "Tex" Ritter, the Country singer and songwriter was born in Murvaul, Panola country, Texas on January 12, 1905.

Panola County is not far from Shreveport, La. and is the same county where Country superstar Jim Reeves was born. Both are members of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Ritter was raised with a deep love of Country Western music. While studying at the University of Texas, he became interested in cowboy songs and folklore. He started law school at Northwestern University but left to take up a career as a folksinger.

By 1930 he had his first role on Broadway. In 1936 he made his first movie. During the 1930s he appeared in more broadway musicals and began to record country songs.

From 1936 to 1945, he appeared in 60 Hollywood westerns, becoming known as "America's most beloved cowboy." As the film popularity declined, he toured in live shows with his horse, White Flash, and continued his recording career.

A different type of film opportunity came to Tex Ritter in 1952, when he was asked to sing the title song of the Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly's Western High Noon. The song was used as a narrative throughout the film and became Ritter's signature song.

Now if you liked un slinging High Noon was the movie to see.

In 1970, he was unsuccessful in his bid for republican nomination for the U.S. Senate from Tennessee. After his defeat he said, "If I had won I'd be another politician. Now I can go back home and just be Tex Ritter."

Ritter was one of the first country and western artists to record albums built around a central theme, as he recorded albums of cowboy songs, hymns, patriotic songs, Mexican songs, as well as albums of country music.

In 1961 Ritter recorded "I Dreamed of a Hillbilly Heaven" which became one of his biggest hits and displayed the fine way he delivered recitations.

Tex Ritter died on January 2, 1974 and marked the passing of one of country and western music's most respected talents. He is buried in Nederland, Texas, and I was able to visit his grave when a high school classmate of mine was buried in the same cemetery.

He is buried in a simple common grave as are all the graves in that cemetery.