December 31, 1920 – Actor, Singer, Songwriter, and Disney Legend Rex Allen is Born
“Basically, all I ever wanted to do was try to be a singer and make a living at that.”
On December 31, 1920, Rex Elvie Allen was born in Willcox, Arizona. He honed his skills as a singer during his youth, performing in local functions with his father, who played the fiddle. After high school, Allen began his career in vaudeville, and performed on the Chicago radio program National Barn Dance, one of the first American country music programs in radio. Allen left the program in 1949 to move to Hollywood, where he scored a contract with Republic Pictures. His first movie was The Arizona Cowboy, and Allen would go on to become a fixture in cowboy films for Republic. He also had a record deal with Mercury Records, making country music records through 1952, where he switched labels to Decca.
In 1956, Allen began his work with the Disney Studios by narrating the documentary Cow Dog, which would go on to be nominated for an Academy Award. He continued to narrate for Disney nature documentaries, earning the nickname “The Voice of the West.” His most noticeable role, however, is the narration of the 1963 film The Incredible Journey. Allen’s vocals are also featured in several Disney park attractions, most notably the voice of the Father in the original Carousel of Progress; the 1993 updated attraction has Allen now voicing the role of the Grandfather. For his work with Disney, Allen was inducted as a Disney Legend in 1996; he passed away at age 78 in 1999.