Smiley Burnette (Lester Alvin Burnette)
Photos with Smiley Burnette
BiographySummum, Illinois, USA
Smiley worked on a local radio station and in Vaudeville after high school. Always interested in music, he was friends with Gene Autry and worked with him on the radio show "The National Barn Dance". When Westerns became a big draw with sound, the studios were always on the lookout for singing cowboys. In 1934, both Gene and Smiley made their debuts in In Old Santa Fe (1934). Smiley became well known as Gene's plump sidekick Frog Milhouse, and they worked together in over 80 Westerns. Read more... Carson and Charles Starrett (The Durango Kid). He also provided a lot of the music as he wrote over 300 western songs and sang quite a few in the films. Smiley was the first supporting actor to regularly appear on the Top Ten Western money-maker list. He became well known for his white horse with the black circle around one eye. When he used a team of white horses, as when he was 'Spec Specialist' Smiley Burnette, each white horse had one black circle around one eye. When the 'B' movie Western reign ended in 1953, Smiley retired from the screen. He made occasional appearances on television including being a regular on the music show "Ozark Jubilee (1959)". His last performance was as railroad engineer Charlie Pratt on Petticoat Junction (1963) from 1963-67.