For two decades during the 1930s and '40s, Smiley Burnette clowned his way through 81 cowboy movies with his sidekick Gene Autry, sometimes impeding the boss' pursuit of the bad guys, but finally making sure that right prevailed.
A self-taught musician proficient on nearly every instrument, he was conducting a one-man radio show in Champaign, Ill., when Autry hired him for the National Barn Dance radio show.
Thus began a firm friendship that brought both cowboy actors to Hollywood and fame and made both among the highest-paid western stars of all time.
In addition to his appearances in Autry films, Burnette appeared in seven movies with Roy Rogers and 64 with Charles Starrett in the "Durango Kid" series.
He wrote some 350 songs, most of them used in his films. Among his most popular tunes were "Mama Don't Allow No Music Played in Here," "Riding Down the Canyon" and "My Home Town."