|Gene Autry wore a variety of gunbelts during his years at Republic Pictures ... followed by his own production company and films for Columbia ... and lastly, in his popular 1950s TV series. While Gene's gunbelt had a basic pattern, there were variations. For example, some were more ornate such as the gun and holster in the above images.|
On the left is a crop from a 1947 lobby card showing Gene. I've overlaid an arrow on the "mystery" that still remains to be solved.
Gene wore a gunbelt with the holster on the right ... but the belt always had a loop or drop to hang a leftside holster.
Let's clarify the question here - I think it was during Gene and Pat Buttram's days on their TNN (The Nashville Network) show where Gene said he was more comfortable - or just preferred - wearing a single gun. That's not the question here - if Gene preferred one gun and one holster, why did he have his custom gunbelts made with a leftside loop or drop for a holster on that side?
I asked Boyd Magers who had authored the Gene Autry Westerns - America's Favorite Cowboy reference book in 2007 and had access to the Autry files and archives. Boyd confirms that this bit of trivia remains unanswered.
I had a vague recollection of Gene wearing a pair of six-shooters in a movie, and for some time, I've been searching for that film. I haven't had much luck with my search until recently.
Republic "loaned out" Gene for his role as "Will Carson" in SHOOTING HIGH (20th Century Fox, 1940) which starred Jane Withers. This is not a traditional Autry oater. In this "movie within a movie" tale, Gene portrays the grandson of the town founder ... there's a film being made about his famous grandfather ... Gene winds up getting the role of his ancestor ... and in his "Will Carson" persona, he does wear a costume that includes a gunbelt with two holsters. Later in the film, Gene swaps the "Will Carson" hat, clothes and gunbelt for his regular "Autry uniform".
Thanks to Bill Heeley for reminding me of RIM OF THE CANYON (Columbia, 1949). In that oater, Gene plays a dual role as himself and his father, "Marshal Steve Autry". Portraying the older Autry, Gene wears a vest, moustache and a pair of six-guns.
Above and right are various crops showing the gunbelt worn by Gene Autry.
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
There were a few films where Gene did not wear his normal range costume and an example is THE SINGING VAGABOND (Republic, 1935). Above from left to right are Autry, Frankie Marvin, Alan Sears and Chief Thunderbird in the title lobby card. Gene is on the left wearing a cavalry uniform and on the right wearing buckskins.
For those into Autry trivia - and think that Gene always portrayed "Gene Autry" - the answer is No! We mentioned his role as "Will Carson" in SHOOTING HIGH and his dual role in RIM OF THE CANYON. Gene was "Captain Tex Autry" in THE SINGING VAGABOND.