This likeable country artist was a presence in both country & western music and cowboy movies and films, hanging out with several generations of celluloid cowpoke types. He appeared in the early cowboy movie days with Tex Ritter, and was later part of the grizzled regular cast of the television series Gunsmoke. As a bandleader, Rudy Sooter had a knack for developing talent. Bob Nolan and cowboy number one Roy Rogers were in his bands prior to forming the Sons of the Pioneers. The success of the latter group spawned a thousand and one cowboy groups, many of which included Sooter amongst the sidemen, such as the Radio Buckaroos. Rudy Sooter's Ranchmen recorded with Jimmie Davis for Decca, including backup on the immortal "You Are My Sunshine" and "Nobody's Darling But Mine." On film, Sooter appeared with Ritter in the 1936 film Headin' for the Rio Grande and in Moonlight on the Range the following year. The Roy Rogers oater Billy the Kid Returns has a charismatic appearance by Sooter. In 1947, he collaborated with notorious bandleader Spade Cooley, playing in his band and co-writing several songs, including "It's Dark Outside," "Down at the Cuckoo House," and the probing "Who Dug the Hole I Am In?" "Dear Oakie" was a big hit for country singer Doye O'Dell, who also claimed co-writing credit because he said Sooter hadn't finished the song when it was time to cut it. On his own, Sooter tried out a variety of approaches, including string bands and Western swing efforts. The Cattle label has released several anthologies of Sooter's recordings from the '40s. From 1967 through 1975, Sooter appeared on Gunsmoke as the character Halligan, a rancher.
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