HOLLYWOOD - Funeral services were pending today for Monte Hale, a singing cowboy of the 1940s who appeared in the classic film "Giant" with James Dean.
Hale, 89, died Sunday at his Studio City home following a lengthy illness, according to Ydhira DeLeon at the Autry National Center.
During an entertainment career that spanned more than 60 years, the Texas native starred in a string of westerns and was featured in the "Monte Hale Western" comic books, which sold more than 2 million copies per month and are now considered collector's items. "My husband was the most wonderful, generous, giving and loving man I have ever known," Hale's wife of 31 years, Joanne Hale, said in a statement. "He was a gentleman to all. He brought laughter, adventure and joy into my life and into everyone's life that he touched."
Hale was discovered when he was a guitar player on a war bond drive in Texas during World War II. He became friends with several Republic Pictures stars and executives on the tour, who recommended him to studio President Herbert Yates.
Hale hitchhiked to California, took a screen test and was signed to appear in 1944's "The Big Bonanza."
He then was signed to seven-year contract and starred in 20 of his own films. The first was 1946's "Home On The Range," featuring a young Robert Blake.
Later that year, Blake and Hale appeared together in "Out California Way," in which Blake's character tries to get his horse Partner into
Following the demise of the B westerns in the early 1950s, Hale appeared in various television series and the 1956 epic drama, "Giant," playing Rock Hudson's attorney, Bale Clinch. Off-screen, he taught Dean rope tricks he used in the film.
Hale's Walk of Fame star -- unveiled in 2004 -- is in front of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, next to one of his friend and fellow Republic Pictures singing cowboy, the late Gene Autry.
In addition to his wife, Hale is survived by his brother, Dick Hale.