Smiley Burnette

About Smiley Burnette

Who is it?: Actor, Soundtrack, Music Department
Birth Day: March 18, 1911
Birth Place:  Summum, Illinois, United States
Birth name: Lester Alvin Burnett
Also known as: Smiley Burnette
Origin: Summum, Illinois, US
Genres: Country music
Occupation(s): Singer-songwriter, musician, film actor, inventor
Instruments: Accordion, guitar, banjo, many others
Years active: 1933–1967
Labels: Abbott Starday Capitol Columbia ARA Rancho
Website: Smiley

Smiley Burnette

Smiley Burnette was born on March 18, 1911 in  Summum, Illinois, United States, is Actor, Soundtrack, Music Department. Smiley worked on a local radio station and in Vaudeville after high school. Always interested in music, he was friends with Gene Autry and worked with him on the radio show "The National Barn Dance". When Westerns became a big draw with sound, the studios were always on the lookout for singing cowboys. In 1934, both Gene and Smiley made their debuts in In Old Santa Fe (1934). Smiley became well known as Gene's plump sidekick Frog Milhouse, and they worked together in over 80 Westerns. After Gene, Smiley provided the comic relief for other cowboy stars at Republic such as Sunset Carson and Charles Starrett (The Durango Kid). He also provided a lot of the music as he wrote over 300 western songs and sang quite a few in the films. Smiley was the first supporting actor to regularly appear on the Top Ten Western money-maker list. He became well known for his white horse with the black circle around one eye. When he used a team of white horses, as when he was 'Spec Specialist' Smiley Burnette, each white horse had one black circle around one eye. When the 'B' movie Western reign ended in 1953, Smiley retired from the screen. He made occasional appearances on television including being a regular on the music show "Ozark Jubilee (1959)". His last performance was as railroad engineer Charlie Pratt on Petticoat Junction (1963) from 1963-67.
Smiley Burnette is a member of Actor

Does Smiley Burnette Dead or Alive?

As per our current Database, Smiley Burnette has been died on February 16, 1967(1967-02-16) (aged 55)\nEncino, California.

🎂 Smiley Burnette - Age, Bio, Faces and Birthday

When Smiley Burnette die, Smiley Burnette was 55 years old.

Popular As Smiley Burnette
Occupation Actor
Age 55 years old
Zodiac Sign Aries
Born March 18, 1911 ( Summum, Illinois, United States)
Birthday March 18
Town/City  Summum, Illinois, United States
Nationality United States

🌙 Zodiac

Smiley Burnette’s zodiac sign is Aries. According to astrologers, the presence of Aries always marks the beginning of something energetic and turbulent. They are continuously looking for dynamic, speed and competition, always being the first in everything - from work to social gatherings. Thanks to its ruling planet Mars and the fact it belongs to the element of Fire (just like Leo and Sagittarius), Aries is one of the most active zodiac signs. It is in their nature to take action, sometimes before they think about it well.

🌙 Chinese Zodiac Signs

Smiley Burnette was born in the Year of the Pig. Those born under the Chinese Zodiac sign of the Pig are extremely nice, good-mannered and tasteful. They’re perfectionists who enjoy finer things but are not perceived as snobs. They enjoy helping others and are good companions until someone close crosses them, then look out! They’re intelligent, always seeking more knowledge, and exclusive. Compatible with Rabbit or Goat.

Some Smiley Burnette images



Lester A. Burnett (he added the final "e" later in life) was born in Summum, Illinois, on March 18, 1911, and grew up in Ravenwood, Missouri. He began singing as a child and learned to play a wide variety of instruments by ear, yet never learned to read or write music. In his teens, he worked in vaudeville, and starting in 1929, at the state's first commercial radio station, WDZ-AM in Tuscola, Illinois.


His break came in December 1933, when he was hired by Gene Autry to play accordion on National Barn Dance on Chicago's WLS-AM, on which Autry was the major star. As sound films became popular, Hollywood sought musical talent for Western films; and in 1934, Producer Nat Levine cast Autry and Burnette in their film debut (unbilled) as part of a bluegrass band in Mascot Pictures' In Old Santa Fe starring Ken Maynard. Burnette sang and played accordion, and the film included two of his compositions.


He had other small parts until a secondary, but more prominent role in the 1935 serial The Adventures of Rex and Rinty. That same year, Levine gave Autry his first starring role in the 12-part serial The Phantom Empire, with Burnette playing Oscar, a comic-relief role. Mascot was soon absorbed by Republic Pictures, and Republic enjoyed enormous success with its musical Western features starring Autry. In each of the films, Burnette played Autry's comic sidekick, Frog Millhouse, with his trademark floppy black hat and trick voice (imitating a deep, froglike croak). Their association produced 62 feature-length musical Westerns.


In the 1940s, he invented and patented an early home audiovisual system called Cinevision Talkies. Each package contained a 78 rpm record with four of his songs and 15 35 mm slides. The slides were to be projected in order and advanced each time a short tone played on the record during the songs. An inside cover of the record album was white so those with no projector and screen could simply shine a flashlight through the slides and view them on the cover. He also devised more than a dozen clever uses for a Common wire clothes hanger and demonstrated several of them during a TV show guest appearance.


After leaving Republic in June 1944, he became the sidekick to Charles Starrett at Columbia Pictures in the new Durango Kid series. Starrett and Burnette were paired in 56 films, from 1945 to 1952. When Starrett retired, Burnette was still under contract, so Columbia teamed him with Jock Mahoney for a new series of Westerns. A pilot film with Mahoney and Burnette was completed, but never released; Columbia then reassigned Burnette to its Gene Autry series, reuniting Burnette with his former partner.


Burnette enjoyed cooking, and in the 1950s, he opened a restaurant chain called The Checkered Shirt, the first of the A-frame drive-ins. The first location was in Orlando, Florida, and two locations still exist in California (Redding and Escondido), but are no longer owned by the Burnette family.


Gene Autry retired from motion pictures in 1953, and other Cowboy stars had either left the movies or were winding down their screen careers. With the studios no longer interested in making B Westerns, Burnette turned to broadcasting and made guest appearances on many country music radio and TV shows, including Louisiana Hayride, the Grand Ole Opry, and Ranch Party.


In early 1957, when quiz shows were popular, he filmed a pilot for a proposed ABC-TV series to originate from Springfield called Pig 'N Poke, a quiz show with a country theme, although ABC did not buy the show.


In the mid 1960s, he portrayed railway Engineer Charley Pratt on the CBS-TV programs Petticoat Junction (106 episodes) and Green Acres (seven episodes).


Burnette donated his original hat and shirt to the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in 1962. In 1971, he was inducted posthumously into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.


Just after filming wrapped for the fourth season of Petticoat Junction, Burnette became ill. On February 16, 1967, a month before his 56th birthday, he died in Encino, California, from leukemia and was interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills, California.


Burnette is mentioned in the Statler Brothers' 1973 country music hit "Whatever Happened to Randolph Scott?" (later the title of a 1994 Scott biography), which reached number 22 on the country chart.


For his contributions to the film industry, Burnette was inducted posthumously into the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1986 with a motion pictures star located at 6125 Hollywood Boulevard. In 1998, he was inducted into the Western Music Association. On May 5, 2012 he was inducted into the Cowtown Society of Western Music Hall of Fame as a Hero.

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