Dale Evans,
Billy The Kid,
Eros Landing
and More!
Happy Trails To You - Until We Meet Again!
Singer-Actress Dale Evans Dies at 88

AP Entertainment Writer

LOS ANGELES FEBRUARY 08, 2001 (AP) — Dale Evans reigned until her death as the "Queen of the West,'' almost always alongside her husband of five decades, Roy Rogers, the "King of the Cowboys.''

Evans, who died Wednesday of heart failure, employed her strong, sweet-natured affection for Rogers when she penned the couple's theme song, "Happy Trails to You.'' She was 88.

"Who cares about the clouds when we're together,'' she wrote. "Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather.''

The couple's relationship endured five decades of work in radio, movies, music and television. When Rogers died in 1998 at age 86, Evans remembered him as "a wonderful human being.''

"What a blessing to have shared my life together with him for almost 51 years,'' she said. "To say I will miss him is a gross understatement. He was truly the king of the cowboys in my life.''

Evans died at her home in Apple Valley in the high desert east of Los Angeles, said her stepson, Roy "Dusty'' Rogers Jr.

"We take comfort in knowing Dale and Roy are together again, riding 'Happy Trails' into the sunset,'' said Too Slim of the cowboy singing group "Riders In The Sky.''

Evans suffered a heart attack in 1992 and a stroke in 1996.

A memorial service was scheduled for Saturday.

"There's the last of the great ladies from a great era — the cowboy era,'' said Fran Boyd, executive director of the Academy of Country Music. "She was always really gracious and a very big supporter of her husband.''

The first movie she made with Rogers, already an established singing cowboy star, was "Cowboy and the Senorita'' in 1944. They married in 1947, and appeared together in 35 movies, including such Saturday afternoon favorites as "My Pal Trigger,'' "Apache Rose'' and "Don't Fence Me In.''

She rode her horse, Buttermilk, beside him on his celebrated palomino, Trigger.

When the B Western faded in the early 1950s, they began their television career. "The Roy Rogers Show'' ran from 1951 to 1957. Later incarnations were "The Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Show'' in 1962 and "Happy Trails Theatre,'' a show of repackaged Rogers and Evans movies on cable TV's Nashville Network from 1986-89.

In 1951, she wrote "Happy Trails,'' which became the couple's theme song. She also wrote the 1955 gospel music standard "The Bible Tells Me So,'' with the refrain, "How do I know? The Bible tells me so.''

She and Rogers recorded more than 400 songs. Their most recent album was "Many Happy Trails,'' recorded in Nashville in 1985.

For years she was active in Christian evangelism, which she called "the most meaningful, the most enjoyable part of my life.''

"She was one Hollywood personality who truly lived what she preached,'' said longtime friend Johnny Grant. "She was a strong supporter of the family and religion.''

She wrote more than 20 books, including the best-selling "Angel Unaware,'' about her daughter Robin, the only child born to her and Rogers.

Robin, who had Down syndrome, died of complications from the mumps shortly before her second birthday in 1952.

The couple also adopted two daughters and a son and raised a daughter as foster parents. Evans also had a son by a previous marriage, and Rogers had a son and two daughters, one of them adopted, with his first wife.

One of the couple's adopted daughters, Debbie, died in a church bus crash in 1964, and their adopted son John choked to death while stationed in Germany with the Army in 1965.

Born Frances Octavia Smith on Oct. 31, 1912, in Uvalde, Texas, Evans was a girl when her family moved to Osceola, Ark., where she attended high school.

After working as a secretary in Chicago, she broke into local radio as a singer in Memphis, later working in Louisville, Dallas and Chicago. Along the way, her name was changed — over her objections — by a station manager who said Dale Evans was easier to pronounce.

After a stint on the weekly CBS radio show "News and Rhythm,'' she began working in Hollywood, appearing in films such as "Orchestra Wives'' and "Swing Your Partner'' before teaming with Rogers.

Besides Roy Jr., she is survived by her son by her first marriage, Tom Fox; adopted daughter Dodie Sailors; foster daughter Marion Swift; stepdaughter Linda Lou Johnson; adopted stepdaughter Cheryl Barnett; 16 grandchildren; and more than 30 great-grandchildren.

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State Ponders Pardon for Billy the Kid
SANTA FE, NM February 2, 2001 (Reuters) - It may not rank with the controversy stirred by former President Clinton's last-day-in-office pardons, but a New Mexico lawmaker is kicking up historical dust by seeking a posthumous pardon for gunfighter Billy the Kid.

One of the most notorious outlaws of the Old West, Billy left a divided legacy for his role in a bitter 1870s feud over trading rights known as the Lincoln County War. Some view him as a latter-day Robin Hood, while to others he was just a vicious "cop-killer."

Some 120 years after Billy was sentenced to hang for killing a New Mexico sheriff, Democratic state Rep. Ben Rios said on Thursday he was asking the state Legislature and governor to pardon the outlaw at the behest of Billy's descendants.

"It would give the family peace of mind," said Rios, whose proposal before the state House of Representatives says the Kid's actions "to this day evoke emotions ranging from admiration to disdain," but that the wounds should be healed after more than a century.

The motion has raised an uproar from descendants of Lincoln County Sheriff William Brady, who was gunned down by Billy and his gang in April 1878.

"If Billy the Kid is pardoned, it means that he was right to shoot William Brady in the back 16 times," said Bennett Brady, 70, the sheriff's great-grandson.

Brady, who lives in Roswell, New Mexico, said he would ask his state representative to oppose the motion, which would have to pass the Legislature before it could go to Gov. Gary Johnson for final action.

Johnson, a Republican, rejected several earlier petitions to pardon Billy the Kid during his six years in office, the governor's spokeswoman said.

"The governor's position has been that the intent of a pardon is to restore civil rights lost because of a felony conviction, and since Billy the Kid is dead, he is not in need of those civil rights," spokeswoman Diane Kinderwater said.

Rios said he was acting at the request of an anonymous constituent in Las Cruces whose family descended from Billy.

Billy, born around 1860 in New York City as Henry McCarty or William H. Bonney, was sentenced to hang for Brady's murder in April 1881, but escaped, shooting two deputies to death, before he was gunned down that July by Sheriff Pat Garrett.

New Mexico Assistant Attorney General Joel Jacobsen, who wrote a 1994 history of the outlaw and the Lincoln County Wars called "Such Men as Billy the Kid," said Billy was part of a conflict between a local oligarchy and the farmers and peasants it often exploited.

"To this day, a lot of people in New Mexico sympathize with Billy the Kid," Jacobsen said.

"He is an ambiguous figure, which is what makes him so interesting. He was both someone who stood up for the oppressed against corrupt local politicians and a cop-killer," he said.

Jacobsen said the Lincoln County Wars centered on a trading monopoly held by a powerful cartel with territorial and federal connections, whose trading rights meant it controlled much of the livelihood of the local people.

Billy worked for Englishman John Tunstall, who sought to challenge that monopoly.

In 1878, Tunstall was murdered in cold blood as he drove some horses between his ranch and Lincoln. Billy, who survived the attack, then staged a series of counter-attacks with his gang "the Regulators" on agents of the monopoly holders.

Brady was killed in the course of those attacks, Jacobsen said.

Japan Bans Drink With Viagra Ingredient
TOKYO February 9, 2001 (Reuters) - A soft drink containing an ingredient of the impotence drug Viagra has been banned by Japanese officials.

They acted after advertisements for the drink, touted as "the solution to your night time problems", appeared in men's magazines and on the Internet.

Some 47,000 bottles of the non-prescription drink were imported from China a year ago, and all but 4,000 had already been sold, mainly in pharmacies around Nagoya, western Japan, said a local government official there.

Each bottle of the drink contained 64.3 milligrams (mg) of the chemical sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra, far more than the 25 or 50 mg in one tablet of Viagra sold in Japan, the official said.

"It could definitely have the same effect as Viagra," she said.

Each 20-millilitre bottle was priced at 3,000 yen ($25.70), compared with 1,100 to 1,300 yen per tablet for Viagra. The official said the drink contravened Japanese drug laws.

The firm that imported the drink said it was made from squeezed Chinese fruits resembling grapes, and it was unaware of the chemical, Kyodo news agency reported.

An estimated 9.8 million men in Japan suffer from erectile dysfunction.
Gorilla Escapes and Devours Junk Food
PITTSBURGH February 5, 2001 (Reuters) - Zookeepers in Pittsburgh are trying to figure out how a gorilla got loose and managed to make a pig of herself by wolfing down muffins, cherry pastries and soda pop at a concession area normally reserved for humans.

About 250 people cowered inside nearby buildings at the Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium for 45 minutes, after the 150-pound (68 kg) female gorilla escaped from an outdoor exhibit by crossing a wide moat and scaling a 14-foot (4.2-meter) wall to freedom.

The animal, which is only 3-1/2 feet (one-meter) tall and is not considered a public danger, quickly found her way to the zoo's outdoor concession area on Sunday afternoon and began digging through overflowing trash cans.

"She seemed to especially like the Orange Slice" soda pop, Barbara Baker, the zoo president and chief executive, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Zookeepers finally lured her into a women's lavatory, where they injected her with a tranquilizer.

No one was ever in danger from the unnamed gorilla, the first to escape from the zoo's decade-old Tropical Forest Complex and make it to what one zookeeper described as "the wrong side of the monkey house."

Members of the zoo's Animal Escape Team believe the animal may have climbed to freedom on a bamboo stalk that had fallen into a waterless moat which surrounds the gorilla exhibit.

The gorilla was later reported to be in good shape, though zookeepers feared she may experience some nausea as a result of the anesthesia and the junk food, a drastic change from her diet of fruit and monkey chow.

Mystery Disease Still Perplexes Canadian Doctors
By Ian Karleff

TORONTO February 8, 2001 (Reuters) - A Congolese woman suffering from a mysterious tropical disease was placed on life support in a Canadian hospital on Thursday as international experts stepped up their hunt to find the virus threatening her life. Health officials have already ruled out the chance that the woman who has not been named, is suffering from the deadly Ebola virus, which killed over 170 people in a recent outbreak in Uganda and which is almost always fatal. She has been in strict quarantine in a Canadian hospital since she was taken seriously ill at the weekend, soon after arriving in Canada from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"The bad news is the patient took a turn for the worse last night and is now in critical condition on life support," said Dr. Mark Loeb, an infectious disease specialist at Hamilton Health Sciences Corp.

Doctors said her worsening symptoms include liver failure. Canadian health officials said on Wednesday that tests showed the woman was not suffering from Ebola, and they now suspect one of a handful of other tropical viral hemorrhagic fevers.

"The Ebola testing to date is negative according to our lab in Winnipeg, but a number of other possible hemorrhagic fevers have not been ruled out," said Dr. Douglas MacPherson, an infectious disease specialist at Health Canada.

The case, which has garnered significant media attention, had raised fears that the woman had imported the first case of Ebola to North America. Ebola and other hemorrhagic fevers are spread through human secretions such as blood, semen, saliva and mucous. Victims die from shock after days of fever, vomiting and heavy bleeding.

"We are pressing very hard to get the diagnostic testing from the Winnipeg lab, and the international agencies that have this as their top priority," added MacPherson.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta said it had received samples from Canada early on Thursday, but was not sure how long it will take to run the requisite tests.

"They (Health Canada) haven't even ruled out certain things so we don't know how long these tests will take," a CDC spokesman told Reuters.

Ebola and other hemorrhagic fevers are only spread through close contact with an infected person, but Canadian officials say they are being very cautious with the patient. A total of 63 healthcare and laboratory workers who may not have been wearing adequate protective gear when handling the woman or her samples are being monitored closely, although Loeb said none were showing worrisome symptoms. Health officials have repeatedly assured the public that there is virtually no chance anybody was infected on the woman's journey to Canada via New York because her symptoms did not materialize until she arrived in Canada.

"We remain confident that her period of illness began only in Hamilton," said MacPherson in reference to the city of 350,000, situated 40 miles to the west of Toronto.

Ebola first emerged in the Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly known as Zaire, in 1976. Some Canadian infection control specialists say it is unlikely that a definitive diagnosis will ever be made and the best case might actually have been a diagnosis of Ebola.

"If it's Ebola we know what we are dealing with and we don't have to worry. There is a 65 to 75 percent chance we will never know," said Dr. Allison McGeer, direction of infection control at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto.

Net Viewers Set To Witness Rocket Landing On Eros
By Susan Karlin

LOS ANGELES February 9, 2001 (Reuters) - Two days before Valentine's Day, a rocket will penetrate Eros -- and you can watch.

On February 12, the world's first spacecraft will land on an asteroid -- Eros, named after the Greek god of love -- and stream a series of photographs in nearly real time (two images a minute) to the Web at http://near.jhuapl.edu . At more than 196 million miles from Earth, it is the most distant object on which we've landed. The event is the grand finale of a one-year orbital mission of Eros, the first of NASA's Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) program, whose goal has been to determine Eros' mineralogical make-up and its relationship to comets, meteorites and the origin of the solar system.

"We fulfilled our primary science goals of the mission and wanted to find some way to end our mission on a high note," said NEAR mission director Robert Farquhar of The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, which built the solar- powered craft. "This also gave us the opportunity to do some bonus science and things with a spacecraft that had never been done before."

Not to mention that the craft will have insufficient fuel to get home anyway.

Asteroids are comprised of many of the same elements as Earth, but in ratios and compositions uncompromised by weather and seismic activity. As a result, their make up helps us to understand what the solar system was like in its infancy.

The kidney bean-shaped Eros was chosen for its accessibility and size, about that of Manhattan, making it the second-largest of the near-Earth asteroids whose orbits take them between Earth and Mars. It is believed that Eros, which will have traveled beyond Mars' orbit at the time of the landing, broke apart from a body from the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

A camera mounted on the side of the NEAR Shoemaker craft -- named after the late Gene Shoemaker, who co-discovered the Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet that crashed into Jupiter in 1994 -- will take pictures as it descends to Eros' cratered surface, giving mankind its closest look at an asteroid. The camera will take clear pictures to within a half mile of the surface.

Of course, it isn't a NASA event without a little drama, and there's a chance that the craft could turn into a crash test dummy. The goal is to hit the surface at 2-7 miles per hour, and come to rest at an angle on the edge of its solar panels, with the transmission antenna pointing toward the Earth.

"When it hits, it could roll or fall on its antenna," Farquhar said. "There's also a less than a 1 percent chance of being able to contact it after landing."

Meanwhile, NASA continues to investigate the solar system's origin. It hopes to bring back samples from an asteroid and is working on a 2004 mission in which a craft will blow a hole in a comet and analyze the debris that comes out. By 2008, NASA expects to have tracked 90 percent of all near-Earth objects, including those roughly a half mile or larger in size that have a chance of (dare we think it) crossing Earth's orbit.

But Eros marks the beginning.

"It's the first time we'll be that up-close and personal with the type of object that could have eliminated the dinosaurs 65 million years ago and the beginning of understanding these objects," Ed Weiler, NASA's associate administrator for space science, said. "It will be useful to future generations that might have to deal with it."

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