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Word for word: 'They threw away the pattern when they made Trigger'

By Times staff

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 12, 2001

From a March 31, 1966, article announcing the death of Roy Rogers' horse, Trigger. The story was written by United Press International and appeared in many newspapers, including the St. Petersburg Times.

Rogers, film's "King of the Cowboys," died three years ago at age 86. His wife, Dale Evans, the "Queen of the West," died last week.

-- DAVE SCHEIBER, Times staff writer

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Trigger is dead.

Movie cowboy Roy Rogers announced yesterday that his equine co-star died of old age at 33 last July 3. He said he hesitated to reveal the news, fearing the loss would shock Trigger fans around the world.

So fond was Rogers of the big Palomino that he is having him stuffed and mounted for a projected Western museum at the singer-actor's resort in Apple Valley, Calif.

"After old Trigger passed away I just couldn't bury him," Rogers said emotionally. "So I thought it would be best to have him mounted.

"Several years ago, I had a request from the Smithsonian Institution wanting to know if they could have him mounted when he passed away. But I'd rather not part with him."

Rogers rode Trigger in 87 feature movies and 101 half-hour television shows. In recent years, he has ridden Trigger Jr. -- now 28 years old -- and Trigger III, a coltish 8-year-old.

Similarity of markings made the three horses almost indistinguishable from one another. But Rogers never became as fond of the younger horses as he was of the original.

"It really shook me up when Trigger passed on," he said.

"It was like losing one of the family. He was beautifully trained. I could do anything with him. When I'd come to the barn or the corral, he'd nuzzle me for attention and hope for a lump of sugar."

"You can be really attached to a horse. They're capable of of returning affection. But they threw away the patten when they made Trigger. During all those hard rides for pictures and television he never fell once. We had to do more retakes for human actors than for Trigger."

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-- Word for Word is an occasional feature excerpting passages of interest from books, magazines, Web sites and other sources.

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