Ritter, Tex

Ritter, Tex

(Woodward Maurice Ritter), 1905–74, American country singer, b. Murvaul, Tex. He moved (1930) to New York, where he performed in musicals and on the radio. Settling (1936) in California, he became one of Hollywood's best-known singing cowboys, starring in more than 70 low-budget Westerns in the late 1930s and the 1940s. He began recording albums in 1942, started to perform on television in the early 1950s, and, coming to Nashville in 1965, made regular appearances on the Grand Ole Opry. Among Ritter's best-known songs are the Oscar-winning theme for the movie High Noon (1952) and "Hillbilly Heaven" (1961). A key figure in the creation of the Country Music Hall of Fame, he was inducted into it in 1964.
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Ritter, (Woodward Maurice) Tex

(1905–74) country music singer and songwriter; born in Murvaul, Texas (father of John Ritter). While studying at the University of Texas he became interested in cowboy songs and folklore; he started law school at Northwestern University but left to take up a career as a folksinger. By 1930 he had his first role on Broadway; in 1936 he made his first movie; during the 1930s he appeared in more Broadway musicals and began to record cowboy songs. From 1936 to 1945 he appeared in 60 Hollywood Westerns as a singing cowboy, becoming known as "America's Most Beloved Cowboy." As his film popularity declined, he toured in live shows with his horse, White Flash, and continued his recording career; his several hit singles included the title song for the movie High Noon (1952); in the 1950s he hosted a radio dance show. He moved to Nashville to join the "Grand Ole Opry" in 1965. In 1970 he was unsuccessful in his bid for the Republican nomination for U.S. senator from Tennessee.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.