Smiley Burnette
Name: Smiley Burnette
Occupation: Actor
Gender: Male
Birth Day: March 18, 1911
Death Date: February 16, 1967(1967-02-16) (aged 55)
Encino, California
Age: Aged 55
Birth Place:  Summum, Illinois, United States
Zodiac Sign: Aries

Social Accounts

Smiley Burnette

Smiley Burnette was born on March 18, 1911 in  Summum, Illinois, United States (55 years old). Smiley Burnette is an Actor, zodiac sign: Aries. Nationality: United States. Approx. Net Worth: Undisclosed.

Net Worth 2020

Find out more about Smiley Burnette net worth here.

Family Members

# Name Relationship Net Worth Salary Age Occupation
#1 Linda Burnette Children N/A N/A N/A
#2 Brian Burnette Children N/A N/A N/A
#3 Steven Burnett Children N/A N/A N/A
#4 Carolyn Burnette Children N/A N/A N/A
#5 Dallas McDonald Spouse N/A N/A N/A

Does Smiley Burnette Dead or Alive?

As per our current Database, Smiley Burnette died on February 16, 1967(1967-02-16) (aged 55)
Encino, California.


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Biography Timeline


Lester A. Burnett (he added the final "e" later in life) was born in Summum, Illinois, on March 18, 1911, and grew up in Ravenwood, Missouri. He began singing as a child and learned to play a wide variety of instruments by ear, yet never learned to read or write music. In his teens, he worked in vaudeville, and starting in 1929, at the state's first commercial radio station, WDZ-AM in Tuscola, Illinois.


His break came in December 1933, when he was hired by Gene Autry to play accordion on National Barn Dance on Chicago's WLS-AM, on which Autry was the major star. As sound films became popular, Hollywood sought musical talent for Western films; and in 1934, producer Nat Levine cast Autry and Burnette in their film debut (unbilled) as part of a bluegrass band in Mascot Pictures' In Old Santa Fe starring Ken Maynard. Burnette sang and played accordion, and the film included two of his compositions.


He had other small parts until a secondary, but more prominent role in the 1935 serial The Adventures of Rex and Rinty. That same year, Levine gave Autry his first starring role in the 12-part serial The Phantom Empire, with Burnette playing Oscar, a comic-relief role. Mascot was soon absorbed by Republic Pictures, and Republic enjoyed enormous success with its musical Western features starring Autry. In each of the films, Burnette played Autry's comic sidekick, Frog Millhouse, with his trademark floppy black hat and trick voice (imitating a deep, froglike croak). Their association produced 62 feature-length musical Westerns.


Smiley Burnette wrote more than 400 songs and sang a significant number of them on screen. His Western classic, "Ridin' Down the Canyon (To Watch the Sun Go Down)", was later recorded by Willie Nelson, Riders in the Sky, and Johnnie Lee Wills. Other compositions included "On the Strings of My Lonesome Guitar" (Jimmy Wakely's theme song in the 1940s), "Fetch Me Down My Trusty .45", "Ridin' All Day", and "It's Indian Summer" as well as "The Wind Sings a Cowboy Song," "The Old Covered Wagon," and "Western Lullaby." He also composed musical scores for such films as The Painted Stallion and Waterfront Lady. His songs were recorded by a wide range of singers, including Bing Crosby, Ferlin Husky, and Leon Russell. His performance of "Steamboat Bill" appeared on Billboard's country chart in 1939.


By 1940, Smiley Burnette ranked second only to Autry in a Boxoffice magazine popularity poll of Western stars, the lone sidekick among the top 10 (though offscreen he earned a reputation as being moody and temperamental), and when Autry left for World War II service, Burnette provided a sidekick to Eddie Dew, Sunset Carson, and Bob Livingston and appeared in nine other films with Roy Rogers. Burnette's movie horse, white with a black-ringed left eye, also became famous, first as Black-eyed Nellie, then as Ring-eyed Nellie, and finally as just Ring Eye.


After leaving Republic in June 1944, he became the sidekick to Charles Starrett at Columbia Pictures in the new Durango Kid series. Starrett and Burnette were paired in 56 films, from 1945 to 1952. When Starrett retired, Burnette was still under contract, so Columbia teamed him with Jock Mahoney for a new series of Westerns. A pilot film with Mahoney and Burnette was completed, but never released; Columbia then reassigned Burnette to its Gene Autry series, reuniting Burnette with his former partner.


Gene Autry retired from motion pictures in 1953, and other cowboy stars had either left the movies or were winding down their screen careers. With the studios no longer interested in making B Westerns, Burnette turned to broadcasting and made guest appearances on many country music radio and TV shows, including Louisiana Hayride, the Grand Ole Opry, and Ranch Party.


In early 1957, when quiz shows were popular, he filmed a pilot for a proposed ABC-TV series to originate from Springfield called Pig 'N Poke, a quiz show with a country theme, although ABC did not buy the show.


Burnette donated his original hat and shirt to the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in 1962. In 1971, he was inducted posthumously into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.


Just after filming wrapped for the fourth season of Petticoat Junction, Burnette became ill. On February 16, 1967, a month before his 56th birthday, he died in Encino, California, from leukemia and was interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills, California.


For his contributions to the film industry, Burnette was inducted posthumously into the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1986 with a motion pictures star located at 6125 Hollywood Boulevard. In 1998, he was inducted into the Western Music Association. On May 5, 2012 he was inducted into the Cowtown Society of Western Music Hall of Fame as a Hero.

🎂 Upcoming Birthday

Currently, Smiley Burnette is 112 years, 0 months and 5 days old. Smiley Burnette will celebrate 113th birthday on a Monday 18th of March 2024.

Find out about Smiley Burnette birthday activities in timeline view here.

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