Tex Ritter

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.

Tex Ritter
Ritter in May 1966
Ritter in May 1966
Background information
Birth nameWoodward Maurice Ritter
Born(1905-01-12)January 12, 1905
Murvaul, Texas, U.S.
DiedJanuary 2, 1974(1974-01-02) (aged 68)
Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
GenresCountry
Occupation(s)Singer, actor
Instrumentsvocals, guitar
Years active1928–1973
LabelsColumbia, Decca, Capitol

Early lifeEdit

Tex Ritter was born Woodward Maurice Ritter on January 12, 1905, in Murvaul, Texas,[1] 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[2] 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.[1]

CareerEdit

Radio and BroadwayEdit

An early pioneer of country music, Ritter soon became interested in show business. In 1928, he sang on KPRC-AM in Houston, Texas,[3] 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),[2] the basis for the musical Oklahoma! He also played the part of Sagebrush Charlie in The Round Up (1932)[4] 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.[5]

MoviesEdit

In 1936, Ritter moved to Los Angeles. His motion picture debut was in Song of the Gringo (1936) for Grand National Pictures.[2]

RecordingEdit

Ritter's recording career was his most successful period. He was the first artist signed with the newly formed Capitol Records.[1]

In 1944, he scored a hit with "I'm Wastin' My Tears on You", which hit number one on the country chart and number 11 on the pop chart. An article in the trade publication Billboard noted 14 years later that with that song, he "reached the style of rhythmic tune that would assure his musical stature".[6]

In 1952 Ritter recorded The Ballad of High Noon for the film High Noon. He performed the track at the first televised Academy Awards ceremony in 1953, and it received an Oscar for Best Song that year.[7]

Later workEdit

Ritter became one of the founding members of the Country Music Association in Nashville, Tennessee, and spearheaded the effort to build the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum into which he was inducted in 1964.[2]

He moved to Nashville in 1965 and began working for WSM Radio and the Grand Ole Opry, earning a lifetime membership in the latter in 1970.[2]

DeathEdit

 
Ritter's grave marker in Port Neches in Jefferson County, Texas

In 1974, he had a heart attack and died in Nashville, 10 days before his 69th birthday. He was survived by his wife and two sons. Following the death of his son John from an aortic dissection in 2003, the family now believes that he died of it, as dissections often run in the family.[8]

LegacyEdit

For his contribution to the recording industry, Ritter has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6631 Hollywood Boulevard.[9] In 1980, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame[10] at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He was a member of the charter group of inductees into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in Carthage, in 1998.[11]

In 1986, Ritter was honored posthumously with a Golden Boot Award for his work in Western films.[12]

FilmographyEdit

DiscographyEdit

AlbumsEdit

Year Album US Country Label
1948 "Children's Songs and Stories" (4 p's 78's in a cover with pictures) Capitol
1954 Cowboy Favorites (4 p's 78's in a cover with pictures)
1958 Songs from the Western Screen
Psalms
1960 Blood on the Saddle
1961 Lincoln Hymns
Hillbilly Heaven
1962 Stan Kenton! Tex Ritter!
1963 Border Affair
1965 Friendly Voice
1966 The Best of Tex Ritter 38
1967 Sweet Land of Liberty 43
Just Beyond the Moon 18
1968 Bump Tiddil Dee Bum Bum! 38
Wild West
1969 Chuck Wagon Days
1970 Green Green Valley
1972 Super Country Legendary
1973 An American Legend 7
1974 Fall Away 44
1976 Comin' After Jinny

SinglesEdit

Year Single Chart Positions Album
US Country US
[13]
1944 "I'm Wastin' My Tears on You" 1 11 singles only
"There's a New Moon Over My Shoulder" 2 21
1945 "Jealous Heart" 2
"You Two-Timed Me One Time Too Often" 1
1946 "You Will Have To Pay" 1
"Christmas Carols by the Old Corral" 2
"Long Time Gone" 5
"When You Leave Don't Slam the Door" 3
"Have I Told You Lately that I Love You?" 3
1948 "Rye Whiskey" 9
"The Deck of Cards" 10
"Pecos Bill" (w/ Andy Parker & The Plainsmen) 15
"Rock and Rye" 5
1950 "Daddy's Last Letter" 6
1952 "High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me)" 12
1956 "The Wayward Wind" 28
1961 "I Dreamed of a Hill-Billy Heaven" 5 20 Hillbilly Heaven
1966 "The Men in My Little Girl's Life" 50 Just Beyond the Moon
1967 "Just Beyond the Moon" 13
"A Working Man's Prayer" 59 single only
1968 "Texas" 69 Wild West
1969 "A Funny Thing Happened (On the Way to Miami)" 53 singles only
"Growin' Up" 39
1970 "Green Green Valley" 57 Green Green Valley
1971 "Fall Away" 67 Fall Away
1972 "Comin' After Jinny" 67 Comin' After Jinny
1974 "The Americans (A Canadian's Opinion)" 35 90 An American Legend

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c "Tex Ritter: Movie Star, Recoding Artist, All-Around Talent". Billboard. February 26, 1972. p. CMHF 22. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Tex Ritter". Country Music Hall of Fame. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  3. ^ Sies, Luther F. (2014). Encyclopedia of American Radio, 1920–1960, 2nd Edition. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-5149-4. P. 558.
  4. ^ ""The Round Up" Cast". Playbill Vault. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  5. ^ Terrace, Vincent (1999). Radio Programs, 1924–1984: A Catalog of More Than 1800 Shows. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-4513-4. P. 48.
  6. ^ "Golden Era of Success". Billboard. December 7, 1968. p. 46. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  7. ^ [1] Archived October 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "Actor John Ritter's wife brings message of awareness to condition that led to his death". Abc13.com. Retrieved January 25, 2020.
  9. ^ "Tex Ritter". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  10. ^ "Great Western Performers". National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  11. ^ "1998 Inductees..." Texas Country Music Hall of Fame. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  12. ^ "The Golden Boot Awards". B-Westerns.com. Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  13. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2011). Top Pop Singles 1955–2010. Record Research, Inc. p. 753. ISBN 978-0-89820-188-8.

External linksEdit