Have you ever wondered how Pat Brady ended up driving a jeep in the Roy Rogers Show? Well, it was actually Roy’s idea. You see, he noticed back when he worked for Republic that the kids liked it when he drove his jeep to and from work. In fact, kids all over the country seemed to be fascinated with jeeps. While putting together the Roy Rogers Show, the question of what horse Pat would ride came up. Roy suggested that rather than ride a horse, Pat should drive a jeep. The idea was accepted and inserted into the plan. Roy and Pat cleaned up one of Roy’s jeeps and painted the name “Nellybelle” on the doors. I’m not sure who came up with giving Nellybelle a personality, but Pat seems the most likely candidate. No matter who it was, Nellybelle became Pat’s sidekick. She was always acting up when he needed her, and then failing to act up when he needed to fool somebody. Nellybelle was put on display in the Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum after the show closed. Pat also rode a horse occasionally, though it generally got him in trouble. In Pat Brady, Outlaw Pat rides a dark horse named Phineas. Generally Phineas was Pat’s mount when a horse was needed, although in Ride of the Ranchers Pat rides a stubborn old mule.
So now you know how Pat got Nellybelle, but how did Dale get Buttermilk? The story is that Roy and Glenn Randall started searching for a horse for Dale before they quit Republic – probably around the late 1940s-early 1950s. Originally they found a beautiful chocolate-brown stallion with a creamy white mane and tail. This horse was later known as Koko, Rex Allan’s mount. Roy and Glenn determined that Koko would be too much for Dale to handle. It was also said later that Roy didn’t want Dale riding a horse prettier than Trigger. So the search continued until Glenn stumbled across Buttermilk. Buttermilk was headed for slaughter when Glenn found him, and promptly bought him. Buttermilk was vicious at first simply because he had a rough start in life. However, with Glenn’s training Buttermilk was soon ready to be introduced to the movie set. Buttermilk first appears as Penny Edwards’ mount in North of the Great Divide (1950). Penny also rides him in Trail of Robin Hood, Spoilers of the Plains (1951), Heart of the Rockies, and In Old Amarillo. From there, Dale took the reins. She rides him in Pals of the Golden West (1951) and then all 100 episodes of the Roy Rogers Show.
Buttermilk was chosen because of his quieter temperament and his coloring. The small gelding’s buckskin coloring beautifully complemented Trigger’s dark golden coat. In the past Dale had ridden a dark or paint horse, neither colorings complemented Trigger.
Interestingly enough, Buttermilk could actually outrun Trigger for short distances. This was because he could break into a run faster than Trigger – a noted attribute among Quarter Horses. Thus, Roy often had to ask Dale to hold Buttermilk in when they dashed off somewhere together. Buttermilk was also a handful at times. Pat had to ride Buttermilk in one of the show’s episodes and he later told Dale that he didn’t see how she stayed on him. You must understand that for all his acting as a poor rider, Pat was actually almost as good as Roy. Dale wrote in Happy Trails: Our Life Story that Buttermilk quickly learned the sound of the buzzer at the beginning of each take. Every time the buzzer went off, he was ready to go and go in a hurry. If you watch him during the episodes, you can see how much Dale had to hold him in. He really enjoyed running!
You can get the entire Roy Rogers Show series in my Roy Rogers Store, along with the other films mentioned throughout the post. If you haven’t read it already, I highly recommend Happy Trails: Our Life Story by Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. You can get it here.