Ray Whitley: Cowboy singer, songwriter, and movie actor. Born December 5, 1901. Died February 21, 1979. Full name: Raymond Otis Whitley. Successful dual career in music and movies. Starred in sixteen singing cowboy shorts for RKO and appeared in sixty feature films overall, including his final film role in the 1956 epic, Giant. Wrote several western standards, including “Back in the Saddle Again,” and “Lonely River” (co-written with Fred Rose). Worked with Gibson Guitar Company to develop the J-200 model guitar, a prototype of the guitar model popularized by the singing cowboy films. Member, Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Chill Wills: Wills was an actor. Died December 15, 1978. Real name: Chill Theodore Wills. Best remembered for his work in movie westerns. Whitley was also a western film actor, as well as a stage performer and songwriter. See additional interviews with Whitley.
March 30, 1975
(1 hour, 20 minutes)
Chill Wills discusses the movies and music he has made. Discussion includes his background; being named after the doctor who delivered him; singing at church revivals with his brothers; working in medicine shows and vaudeville shows; meeting Ray Whitley and doing movies with him; appearing in “McClintock” with John Wayne; “Boom Town” with Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy; his love of country music and his visit to Fan Fair; memories of Hank Worden and Cactus Mack; doing benefits for Spade Cooley after Cooley was imprisoned for murder; impressions of the Grand Ole Opry; his desire to write a hillbilly operetta. Wills also talks about his music. Whitley discusses his own motion picture earnings and comments on Wills’s talent.