Roy Roger’s ‘The Chuck Wagon Song’ was released as a record in 1955. Ideal Toys sold a small chuck wagon and jeep set, which was one of the most popular Roy Roger model sets. The jeep had a trailer, in which Trigger the horse could ride, and small figures of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans and friends could either sit on the chuck wagon or ride in the jeep.
Steger already made a 36″ stake-bed wagon which they designated ‘Model 26’. You can see an advert for it in the 1946 edition of ‘Playthings’ magazine. This is the wagon that was adapted to become the Roy Rogers Chuck Wagon.
I’m not sure if the record came before or after the toys, so my estimate of 1955 is approximate for this full-size Chuck Wagon.
1955 Steger ‘Roy Rogers’ Full-size Stake-bed Chuck Wagon
Model No 26
LENGTH: Body – 36″
LENGTH: Overall – 66″
The 1957 May & Halas Inc advert below shows the Steger Irish Mail – which was also sold as the Steger ‘Ding Dong School Mail’ and a 37″ Patrol Jeep. A Roy Rogers ‘Nellybelle’ jeep was already manufactured by Hamilton, so perhaps Steger made a similar jeep to try and cash in on their connection with Roy Rogers merchandise.
Apart from some water damage to the floor of the wagon (see below) this Chuck Wagon is extremely well-preserved. Though made sixty years ago, it looks brand new!
Roy Rogers was born Leonard Franklin Slye on November 5, 1911, and he died on July 6, 1998. He was an American singer and actor and one of the most popular Western stars of his era. Known as the ‘King of the Cowboys’, he appeared in over 100 films and numerous radio and television episodes of ‘The Roy Rogers Show’. In many of his films and television episodes, he appeared with his wife, Dale Evans, his golden palomino, Trigger and his German Shepherd dog, Bullet. His show was broadcast on radio for nine years and then on television from 1951 to 1957.
Len Slye’s first film appearance was in 1935, and after that he worked steadily in various western films, including a large supporting role as a singing cowboy while still billed as Leonard Slye in a Gene Autry movie. In 1938, Autry demanded more money for his work, and there was a competition for a new singing cowboy. Many singers sought the job, and Slye ended up winning the contest, subsequently being given the stage name Roy Rogers by the studio. Rogers soon became a matinee idol, a competitor with Autry as the nation’s favourite singing cowboy. In the Motion Picture Herald Top Ten Money-Making Western Stars poll, Rogers was listed for 16 consecutive years, from 1939 to 1954, holding first place from 1943 to 1954.
With money from Rogers’s films and from his public appearances going to Republic Pictures, Rogers brought a clause into a 1940 contract with the studio where he would have the right to his likeness, voice, and name for merchandising. There were Roy Rogers action figures, cowboy adventure novels, playsets, as well as a comic strip, a long-lived Dell Comics comic book series (Roy Rogers Comics) and a variety of marketing successes. Rogers was second only to Walt Disney in the number of items featuring his name.
Rogers and Evans were well known as advocates for adoption and as founders and operators of children’s charities, and they adopted several children. On February 8, 1960, Roy Rogers was honored with three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
STEGER PRODUCTS MFG CORPORATION
Steger, Illinois, USA
Steger, Illinois was famous for its piano manufacture, the original company was the Steger Piano Company, established in 1879 by John V. Steger. In 1892 the company was incorporated as The Steger & Sons Piano Manufacturing Company. By 1920, Steger was considered by some to be the piano capital of the world, producing more than a hundred pianos a day. After changing American tastes diminished the demand for the piano the plant closed its doors in 1928, and the Amico Macaroni Company of Chicago Height moved into a portion of the vacated building. In 1932 another section of the complex became the home of the Steger Furniture Company, who manufactured radio cabinets there for many years. In 1945, Steger Furniture Co was acquired by the automobile parts manufacturer Sparton Corporation, who had invented the first electric automobile horn in 1911 and the first all-electric radio after World War I.
Vincent R. Trabucco was the patent assignor to the Steger Products Mfg Corp. Various strollers and steering mechanisms were patented after World War 2. The company made various riding toys, including an ‘Irish Mail’, tricycle and coaster wagon. They also made a popular ‘Irish Mail’ push-cart called the ‘Ding Dong School Mail’, which had a tie in to an educational TV show.
IDEAL TOYS ROY ROGERS ‘FIX-IT’ CHUCK WAGON & JEEP
Chuck Wagon Sonf with thanks to – https://www.discogs.com/Various-The-Chuck-Wagon-Song-Roy-Rogers-Had-A-Ranch/release/6624804
Roy Rogers info with thanks to – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Rogers
Steger info with thanks to – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steger,_Illinois