The Autry Files

April 10, 2020

Happy Birthday Jane Withers

Collections / Revealing Women in the Archives

By: Caroline Sheehan, 2018-2019 Autry/Occidental College intern; Liza Posas, Head, Research Services and Archives

Jane Withers, actor, philanthropist, and doll collector, turns 94 this Sunday. A testament to the range of her life’s achievements can be found everywhere: in newspaper and magazine articles, film reel footage, and in archive collections like those held at the Autry.

Jane Withers was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on April 12, 1926. Her mother, Ruth, dreamt of having a child star, and gave her the name Jane so it would fit on a marquee. Her parents wasted no time in... Read more

April 6, 2020

Is this a Western? (Episode 2) Challenge: Frankenstein

Is this a Western?
Challenge: Frankenstein

The Autry’s media specialist, Anton Lieberman , suggested Frankenstein . Here’s how Josh responded: Read more

April 6, 2020

Sweet Land: The Show Must Go On

Native Communities / Programs

By: Brittany Campbell, Public Engagement Manager and Ben Fitzsimmons, Associate Director of Programs and Research

Artistic endeavors are essential today more than ever and the Autry actively works to include the many voices of the creative communities of the American West through partnerships and public programming initiatives. We were excited to hear that The Industry, an artist-driven company creating experimental productions that expand the definition of opera, was developing an opera exploring the myths of American identity and the erasure of certain stories. Sweet Land was co-... Read more

April 3, 2020

The “Cowgirl of the Typewriter” Defied Stereotypes and Took the Reins


On August 29, 1948 Houston Chronicle Magazine ran an article that claimed it “could completely unnerve the boys who go in for the manly entertainment of the shoot’em-ups…that some of Hollywood’s wildest Westerns are screen written by a blue-eyed, blond-haired beauty from Houston who answers to the name of Frances Kavanaugh.” The story ran alongside photographs of Kavanaugh at her typewriter and working out scripts with directors, producers, and actors. It aptly showed off her curled hair and impeccable lipstick. The writing, as well as the images, grappled with the stereotypes of... Read more

April 3, 2020

Aloha Friday: The Wild West Meets the Spirit of Aloha

Aloha Friday / Collections / Exhibitions

By Amanda K. Wixon, Curatorial Intern

Aloha shirts have always been part of my wardrobe. When I visited family in Hawai’i, I wore the colorful dresses and shirts that my grandmother made for me or the ones that were handed down to me from my older cousins. Later, I frequently wore aloha shirts to school, and it became a sort of signature look for me. I would scour thrift stores in Santa Barbara, looking for the most unique and odd shirts I could find. As a teenager growing up in California, the 1990s included a slew of punk rock shows – in garages, in backyards, on the streets, and... Read more

April 1, 2020

The Autry Donates Personal Protection Equipment to Area Hospitals

Collections / Community

In recent weeks, we have all been hearing about a shortage in many US hospitals of the personal protection equipment needed to protect healthcare workers as they care for sick patients. Museum staff, compelled by these stories, rallied to donate surplus supplies already on hand to hospitals in need. I’m pleased to share that, to date, the Autry has donated almost 200 N95 masks and 13,000 pairs of gloves to three area hospitals. While a modest gesture, we wanted to do anything we could for the community at large. Read more

April 1, 2020

Is This a Western? Episode 1: The Challenge

Is this a Western?

If you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If you’re a curator of Western history, popular culture, and firearms at the Autry, everything looks like a Western. Playing on his recent book, What Is a Western? Region, Genre, Imagination and the museum’s wide-ranging film series, Autry curator Josh Garrett-Davis can take any film, song, book, or pop culture reference and explain how it loosely relates to the mythology of the American West. We invite you to... Read more

March 30, 2020

Aloha Fridays

Aloha Friday / Collections / Exhibitions

By: Carolyn Brucken, Chief Curator


Over the past few days people around the world have been sheltering at home, working remotely, and cancelling travel plans. For me, this has meant that work on the Autry’s upcoming exhibition Dress Codes has shifted to a make-shift office space surrounded by cats where the dress code is definitely more... Read more

March 27, 2020

Sky King, Penny, and Nada Surf


For many, this familiar opening to the 1950s television series also meant sharing the adventures of Penny, the teenage niece of Uncle Sky (Grant Kirby), title character in the television series. Actress Gloria Winters-Vernon, who played Penny, passed away on August 14, 2010. She was a generous friend to the Autry National Center who donated many items from her television, film and personal appearance career including photographs, costume, scripts, and publicity materials from “Sky King.” Read more

August 7, 2019

Indian War Photographs


By Julia Tcharfas, Collections Cataloger, Autry Museum of the American West

Those browsing the Autry’s Collections online will sometimes come across a “binder” icon on the upper-right-hand corner of the page. This icon is reserved for certain items in the archives and manuscripts collections that one might want to browse, page-by-page, in high resolution. Clicking on the binder icon will open a new window. This not only makes the documents easier to read, it also draws attention to the physicality of... Read more