Evanstar and the Members of the DEFC
Part of a Series: Exploring the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Archive
The Autry Institute is currently processing the generously donated business archive of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. At the beginning of each month, the Autry Libraries blog will feature highlights from the collection in anticipation of the processing’s completion.
Long before the Internet offered message boards, e-mail lists, and web pages dedicated to favorite stars, fans met in a different kind of virtual community.
Motion Picture Story Magazine and Photoplay pioneered the film fan magazine when they both debuted in 1911. Originally, film magazines focused on the technical side of the industry, but audiences began to clamor for more information about their favorite actors. This eager reading audience of fans supported a growing number of fan-targeted magazines created by both professional writers and fellow fans. An actor was not simply an actor now but also a personality performing a role in his or her real life, too. Roy Rogers and Dale Evans fully embraced the idea of star actor as personality, and they garnered many fans through their respect and reverence for their audiences.
Rogers and Evans were frequently featured along with other popular contemporary actors in nationally distributed film fan magazines, but they were the star attraction in their very own fan magazines. Early magazines from the 1940s were primarily text, but later issues—from the 1950s on—often featured images of Rogers and Evans and their growing family.
Dale Evans’s fan magazine, Evanstar, stood on its own from its creation in 1944 until it merged in the early 1950s with Rogers’s fan magazine, The Double R-Bar Ranch News. Evanstar featured news updates along with several regular sections on personal appearances, new films, recordings, and newly published photos and articles in other magazines.
For dues of a dollar per year, an individual could become a member of the Dale Evans Fan Club (DEFC) and receive a subscription to Evanstar. In 1944 the club held a membership contest. For every ten new members a current member sent in, he or she would win a dollar in war stamps. By 1948, the DEFC claimed to have 300 members.
Like other fan magazines, Evanstar allowed fans to feel connected to one another through pen pal sections featuring addresses for club members looking to correspond with like-minded friends. Later issues frequently featured photographs of fans, giving them their own fifteen minutes of fame. Issues even included wedding and birth announcements sent in by fans, celebrating the life milestones of members of the fan community.
One of the issues of Evanstar from 1944 featured a fan profile that told readers about the fan’s favorites in the same way that the magazine talked about the favorites of famous stars. This issue’s fan named green as her favorite color and Bob Hope as her favorite comedian. The fan, of course, admired Dale Evans, but she also had other interests, and the magazine was a place to share that with other Evans fans.
In addition to the usual features, the January–April 1950 issue featured an article by the DEFC president’s mother, Charlotte Johnson. “What It’s Like to Be a Fan Club Prexy’s [President’s] Mother” detailed the inception of the Dale Evans fan club led by her daughter. At age fifteen, Lois told her mother that she was going to start a fan club for Dale. Her mother, responded, “A f-f-f-fan club? What’s that?” She would soon find out what it meant. As she explained,
Though the DEFC centered on Evanstar and Evans’s professional personality, it forged friendships between like-minded individuals—long before the concept of Facebook “friending”—and celebrated their lives nearly as much as it celebrated the life and personality of those fans’ beloved star, Dale Evans.