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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.
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|
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 BroadwayEdit
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
For his contribution to the recording industry, Ritter has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6631 Hollywood Boulevard. In 1980, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame 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.
|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|
|1960||Blood on the Saddle|
|1962||Stan Kenton! Tex Ritter!|
|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|
|1969||Chuck Wagon Days|
|1970||Green Green Valley|
|1972||Super Country Legendary|
|1973||An American Legend||7|
|1976||Comin' After Jinny|
|1944||"I'm Wastin' My Tears on You"||1||11||singles only|
|"There's a New Moon Over My Shoulder"||2||21|
|"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|
|"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|
|1969||"A Funny Thing Happened (On the Way to Miami)"||53||singles only|
|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|
- "Tex Ritter: Movie Star, Recoding Artist, All-Around Talent". Billboard. February 26, 1972. p. CMHF 22. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
- "Tex Ritter". Country Music Hall of Fame. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
- Sies, Luther F. (2014). Encyclopedia of American Radio, 1920–1960, 2nd Edition. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-5149-4. P. 558.
- ""The Round Up" Cast". Playbill Vault. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
- 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.
- "Golden Era of Success". Billboard. December 7, 1968. p. 46. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
-  Archived October 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- "Actor John Ritter's wife brings message of awareness to condition that led to his death". Abc13.com. Retrieved January 25, 2020.
- "Tex Ritter". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
- "Great Western Performers". National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
- "1998 Inductees..." Texas Country Music Hall of Fame. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
- "The Golden Boot Awards". B-Westerns.com. Retrieved 27 December 2016.
- Whitburn, Joel (2011). Top Pop Singles 1955–2010. Record Research, Inc. p. 753. ISBN 978-0-89820-188-8.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tex Ritter.|
- Tex Ritter on IMDb
- Tex Ritter at the Internet Broadway Database
- Tex Ritter at The Old Corral (a reference guide for B-Westerns)
- Tex Ritter at the Country Music Hall of Fame
- Tex Ritter Museum – Carthage, Texas
- Tex Ritter / Edward Finney Collection at the Autry Museum of the American West
- "Tex Ritter". Find a Grave. Retrieved November 21, 2013.