The Archive Collection

Harringay Remembered: Billy Graham and Roy Rogers

April 7, 2024

In 1954, one of the most famous names in Cowboy-Western movies and TV was that of Roy Rogers. He and his horse, Trigger, were a household name across the United States. So, when Billy Graham ventured to England for his 1954 Greater London Crusade, it may have surprised some people of the day that he asked Roy Rogers and his wife, Dale Evans Rogers, along with Trigger, to attend the Crusade – an evangelistic event.

Billy Graham with Dale Evans Rogers, Ruth Bell Graham, and Roy Rogers

In letters leading up to the event, Billy Graham asks Roy and Dale to consider the impact they would have:

“Roy and Dale, I believe this is a challenge to you from God. Whatever the personal sacrifice or inconvenience, or the changing of your plans, I believe in this British campaign you would make your greatest contribution to the Kingdom of God. Even if you didn’t say anything or make any public speeches, just your presence on the platform night after night would cause thousands to prick up their ears and say that ‘maybe religion is not for children and old women after all, but it is a real he-man religion.’”

Copy of August 1953 letter from Billy Graham to Roy and Dale Rogers

Ultimately, Dale Evans and Roy Rogers decided to come to the Crusade in support of Billy Graham. The newspapers heralded their visit. The Methodist Recorder on March 25, 1954, proclaimed the headline “Roy Rogers and ‘Trigger’ Welcomed at Harringay! ‘Riding for the Lord:’ Stadium Crowded by 40,000 Children.” In his autobiography, Just As I Am, Billy Graham remembers their efforts:

“Many of our friends and supporters in the United States traveled to England to be a part of the Crusade. Among them were Roy Rogers and his wife, Dale Evans. They spoke at a children’s meeting at the dog track next door to Harringay; an estimated 10,000 adults showed up with 40,000 boys and girls. Roy Rogers rode his cowboy horse, Trigger, around the track, showing off his tricks. But when he and Dale spoke, it was a simple and straightforward witness to their faith in Christ.”

Newspaper clipping from the Methodist Recorder on March 25, 1954, indicating the tremendous response to Roy Rogers’ visit to Harringay for Billy Graham’s Greater London Crusade
Roy Rogers performs on his horse, Trigger, during the 1954 Billy Graham Crusade in London (Keystone Press / Alamy Stock Photo)

Following their time at the Crusade, Billy Graham wrote to the couple in April, 1954 to tell them of the great impact they had on those who came:

“You will never know what a great contribution you made to our meetings here. People are still talking about it. A great many people have received Christ as a result of your coming. Almost every night somebody comes to the inquiry room because they heard your testimony. How we thank God for our sweet, humble, consecrated lives and the willingness to come and give us so much time. It has certainly been the highlight of our campaign.”

Copy of letter from Billy Graham to Roy and Dale Rogers in April 1954 expressing his thanks for coming to England to give their testimony at the Greater London Crusade

Certainly, we can never know the extent of the great impact they had, but their simple testimonies undoubtedly led hundreds, if not thousands, to accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Billy Graham saw the value in bringing a “secular” celebrity to stir the curiosity of the crowds who would come. His forward-thinking recognized the appeal of a cowboy in bringing young people to the stadium which allowed so many to hear the Gospel who might not otherwise have come to a “religious” event.

You can find out more about Billy Graham’s Crusade in England in 1954 as well as his many other evangelistic efforts around the world in The Journey of Faith tour at the Billy Graham Library. Plan your visit today!

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