Roy Rogers was hardly from the West. In fact, he was born in Cincinnati and never left the state of Ohio until he was 18 years old and followed his father to California where the family worked as migratory fruit pickers. In the early 1930s, Rogers shed his birth name of Leonard Slye and took the stage name 'Dick Wesson' when he formed the singing group The Sons of the Pioneers, who became popular on radio. In 1935, Republic Pictures signed him to a seven-year contract at $75 per week and still billed as 'Dick Wesson', he made his film debut in "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" (1935), a vehicle for Gene Autry. Rogers continued playing bit roles, but studio head Herbert Yates was grooming him for stardom. When Gene Autry walked off the lot in a contract dispute in 1938, it was Rogers' chance. Now billed as 'Roy Rogers' and often playing an onscreen character with that name, he had his first leading role in "Under Western Stars", as a singing cowpoke turned Washington Congressman. The film is a combination of Davy Crockett lore and "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" rip-off that defends the independence of the American westerner. Rogers was an instant hit, and was then usually teamed with Gabby Hayes as his sidekick. Virtually all of his films were in the singing cowboy mode, except for "Dark Command" (1940), in which he played the supporting part of Claire Trevor's trigger-happy brother who is trying to settle the question of whether or not Kansas should be slave state prior to the Civil War.