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Roy mannequin.

Happy trails to Roy Rogers: To stuff or not to stuff?

Roy Rogers, America's greatest singing cowboy with his own museum, died of congestive heart failure on July 6, 1998. He was 86.

At the Roy Rogers Museum in Victorville, floral tributes from grieving fans filled the lobby only hours after Roy's demise became known. The 30,000-square-foot facility displays Roy's bowling trophies, his Shriner fezzes, and the mounted ( not stuffed -- most newspaper accounts are getting it wrong) carcasses of Trigger, Bullet, Buttermilk, and Trigger Jr. -- Roy's horse, Roy's dog, Roy's wife's horse, and Roy's horse's horse, respectively.

Trigger close-up.
Trigger. Will Roy ride once again?

Roy poses in the lobby.
Roy posed in the museum lobby with lucky visitors.

Roy, who lived just up the road, would visit the museum frequently to mingle with his fans and dead pets -- as he did during a brief Roadside Hypertour touchdown in 1994.

Roy played a singing cowboy in dozens of grade-B westerns. His backup singers -- also singing cowboys -- who now have their own theater in Branson, MO, canceled their July 6 performance in Roy's memory. In a press statement, they hailed Roy as "a great hero." Roy's fame and brand had a second life on America's highways as the name of a popular fast food chain, where one could get a good roast beef sandwich.

A persistent legend, never confirmed, was that Roy and Dale (his wife) planned to have their bodies preserved after death (mounted, not stuffed), placed astride their respective steeds, and exhibited in the museum. While this story sounds too good to be true, Roadsiders in the Victorville vicinity might consider stopping by the museum over the next few months, just to take a peek.

Dec 12, 2009: Closed. Everything auctioned.

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