Home Page










Slide Shows

Special Features


















Pat Brady

(1914 - 1972)


Robert Ellsworth "Pat" Brady

       Bob Nolan wrote many of his humorous songs with Pat Brady in mind. Everyone loved Pat and the songs became popular as much from his comical performance as from Bob's talent!


Bob Nolan and the Sons of the Pioneers Work Chronology


    Red-haired Pat Brady was born Robert Ellsworth O'Brady to vaudeville performers, John and Lucille Brewer O'Brady on December 31, 1914. His parents were repertoire players and his father played the drums, tap danced and acted the part of the "Toby" or clown and his mother was a dancer and singer. Pat's family traveled constantly and at four years of age, he began to have a part on stage, too. His parents separated when he was twelve and Pat lived with his father who moved to California.

    In 1935 Pat, or Bob as he was then, who was appearing as part of a quartet at Sam's Place on Sunset Beach, became friendly with Leonard Slye and, through him, the other Sons of the Pioneers. When Leonard became Roy Rogers in the Republic films in 1937, he recommended that Pat fill his place in the Pioneers who were under contract to Columbia at the time. Pat was a good bass player but, on his own admission, he didn't take life seriously enough to apply himself. He endeared himself to audiences with his Danny Kaye-like appearance and natural humor. He was shy and, like so many shy people, loved to make people laugh. He was as funny off-stage as on.




    When he joined the Pioneers, he dropped the "O'" from O'Brady and changed "Bob" to "Pat" because one Bob was enough in the group. Children loved him, the Pioneers loved him, but his voice wasn't right for the trio because he was accustomed to singing comedy. Tim Spencer was invited back and Pat stayed on as the Sons of the Pioneers' funny man. And so Pat became a "movie star" although the pay was poor - $33 a week.

    Roy Rogers told his first biographer, Elise Miller Davis in "The Answer is God", that the Sons of the Pioneers used to drop by Sam's Place for coffee and stay on to join the host musicians in a jam session. Roy had taken a liking to Pat, "Mainly, I think, because he was the only guy I'd ever met who seemed as miserably shy as I was." Pat, like Roy, was from Ohio and both had given up their career dreams because of the Depression. Both loved animals and children. Pat had hoped to become a commercial artist, Roy a doctor. One night Pat showed Roy a poster he had drawn that had taken a prize in a community chest contest picturing a forlorn little boy with too-large a cap, tattered coat and patched, baggy pants. With an apologetic expression on his thin face, the child stood beside his puppy gazing hungrily into a butcher's window. The caption read, BUT THE DOG LOVES HIM, ANYWAY. DO YOU?"


Pat joins the Pioneers in time for the Columbia Charles Starrett picture, Outlaws of the Prairie, in 1937.


Pat collapses after a galloping tango in "The Thundering West".


After the Sons of the Pioneers returned from a year's sojourn in Chicago, they rejoined their old friend, Roy Rogers, this time in movies for the new company, Republic Pictures. Pat continued to ham it up for the camera.


Karl E. Farr Collection



The photo on the right was mistakenly identified as "Bob Nolan" by a "signature" on Pat's shoulder. The shirt is from "Song of Texas" 1943. He also wore the shirt in the 1946 reunion photos.


The Sons of the Pioneers were under contract to Republic Pictures from 1941-1948 and Pat was growing more popular with the viewing public as each picture was released. He was often paired with Gabby Hayes as the comic relief but when the role called for serious acting, as it so seldom did, he showed he could do that, too. He had a fine part in the movie that tipped its hat to the group by using their name as the title, Sons of the Pioneers, in 1942.




Pat and George "Gabby" Hayes in Sons of the Pioneers, 1942


Roy, Jan Frazee, Pat Brady and Stephanie Bachelor in Springtime in the Sierras

(Courtesy of Fred Sopher)


    His wife, Fayetta, was a pretty little redhead. They were close friends of Karl Farr and his family and lived nearby. Karl Jr recalls,


We moved to 1737 Frederic St. in Burbank in 1938 and mom stayed there until 1962. Pat Brady's wife, Fayetta, was a redhead and really a nice lady. In 1938 I got a bicycle for Christmas in Burbank. I would ride a few blocks over to Fayetta’s house and she would help me off by waiting out front of her house. Mom and Dad often would play cards with the Bradys. They lived by the railroad tracks in Burbank and the Daylight came by at 70 mph and shook the house . . . it was too close. I remember some of Pat's expressions were "mustard and custard" . . . "some fun a kid". I believe Pat lived on Brighton which was two streets east of us and one block off of Buena Vista. Buena Vista is the street that Disney Studios is on only two miles south of our area were we lived.


Cheryl Rogers Barnett, Roy and Dale's eldest daughter, in her book Cowboy Princess remembers:


Mom and Dad were always trying to find children for their friends and family members to adopt. They must have found three or four (at least) children for Pat and Fayetta Brady. Pat and Fayetta never had kids so they were prime targets for Mom and Dad's adoption efforts. The children all had bright red hair (as did both Pat and Fayetta) and no one but Pat or Fayetta would have known they had been adopted. They were so great with kids. I always thought they were the perfect couple - they even had similar hair color and lots of freckles.


Pat Brady, like Tim Spencer and the other Sons of the Pioneers, was always there. He was always part of our lives, first as the funniest member of the Sons of the Pioneers, then as Dad's sidekick for fairs and rodeos, then as his sidekick on the TV series. Pat and his wife, Fayetta, Shug Fisher and his wife, Peggy; and Lloyd Perryman and his wife, Buddie, were also friends of Mom and Dad's. They hosted the rehearsals, put on backyard barbecues and were generally always around. Pat reminded me of the great comedian Danny Kaye in that they both had rubber faces. Pat loved to make really strange faces and throw us kids into fits of laughter. He was also a fine musician. He and Shug would alternate as bass player for the Pioneers.


War Service

In 1943, Pat was called into the army and was with Patton's Third Army in Europe and won citations for valor and two purple hearts. The Sons of the Pioneers back home made sure he had his share of their earnings while he was away. Karl Farr remembers,


Pat was with Gen. Patton’s third army in Germany and was once in a newsreel. The top of his tank was blown off at close range just as he was bending over to pick up a shell. He had the Purple Heart. He slept in a dentist's office in Germany and sent home all the drills, also a German officer’s uniform and about 30 guns. Anything he could get his hands on he sent home before the crack down. When Pat was in the service, Fayetta carried a .25 automatic in her purse for protection.


Photo courtesy of John Fullerton



 APO 260 U.S. ARMY GENERAL ORDERS) 25 July 1945: NUMBER …..219


By directive of the President and under the provisions of Army Regulations 600-45, dated 23 September 1943, as amended, a Bronze Star Medal is awarded to:


Private First Class Robert E. Brady 39719084, Company C, 3d Tank Battalion, United States Army, for heroic achievement in connection With military operations against an enemy of the United States at Kirschnaumen, France on 17 November 1944.


Braving intense enemy fire, Private First Class Brady, bow gunner, courageously assisted in the evacuation of several casualties. His Exemplary conduct reflects great credit upon himself and the military forces of the United States. Entered the military service from Burbank, California


(Thanks to Archivist of western group of the 10th Armored Division Association, courtesy of Paul Martin)


"This occurred during the Third Army's attack on the fortress of Metz, France, on the border with Germany from 14-19 November, 1944. US Forces captured the city. This could have been his first taste of battle in WWII. It also indicates that he was more than simply a 'Tank Driver'". (Paul Martin)


Pat Brady updates the Pioneers on his wartime experiences.


When he was demobilized in 1946 he rejoined the Pioneers in the Republic films and when their contract was up with Republic in 1948 he stayed on with Roy, Dale, Estelita Rodriquez and Foy Willing and the Riders of the Purple Sage who had replaced the Pioneers. Pat went on with Roy into the television series from 1951-7, where he and his Jeep, Nellybelle, became known and loved by another generation of children.




In an episode (Peril from the Past) from the Roy Rogers Show in the 1950s, Roy wants to get closer to a cabin where a gang is holed up. When Pat Brady drives up in his jeep, the following dialogue ensues, courtesy of Laurence Zwisohn:


Roy: Pat, you're an old tank driver. Head Nellybelle straight for the cabin.

Pat: Wow! This reminds me of the Battle of the Bulge.


Estelita Rodriguez, Roy, Pat and Dale in the Republic films.



Pat remained with Roy on the Roy Rogers television shows.


(Courtesy of Fred Sopher)


(Courtesy of the Roy Rogers Family Trust)


(Courtesy of Bruce Hickey)


(Courtesy of Bruce Hickey)


(Courtesy of Bruce Hickey)


(Courtesy of Bruce Hickey)


(Courtesy of Bruce Hickey)


(Courtesy of Bruce Hickey)


(Courtesy of Bruce Hickey)


(Courtesy of Bruce Hickey)


(Courtesy of Bruce Hickey)


He was also featured in Roy Rogers' line of commercial buttons, farm figures, vending machine cards, comics and coloring books, etc.




He was part of the Roy Rogers entourage that toured and re-toured America and Canada for appearances at rodeos, etc. Roy's son, Dusty, in his book "Growing Up with Roy and Dale", recalled,

            “A couple of times Cheryl and I even played parts in the television series. I played the town brat, and I was always picking on Pat Brady. In one scene, I shot his hat off with a bow and arrow, and in another, I got him in the rear end with a sling shot.

            We never thought of Pat as a ‘star.’ He was simply one of Dad’s best friends, and he and his wife Fayetta were Dodie’s godparents. Pat had bright red hair and a face like rubber. He could make the most wonderful faces. Although he was almost as shy as my dad, he was the biggest practical joker, always trying to sneak in funny things to get Dad’s goat. He put smoke bombs under the hoods of the police escorts at the fair and rodeos, or cherry bombs under their tires.

            During the road shows Pat always tried to throw Dad’s concentration off. Part of their act was target shooting. Pat tossed up a series of clay pigeons, and Dad shot them. A terrific marksman, Dad never missed.

            One day Pat stuffed one of the pigeons with a pair of lady’s nylons. Dad was blazing away when all of a sudden, BOOM! The nylons came floating down. It flustered Dad but he didn’t miss the next target. Another time Pat put a little parachute inside, and the kids in the audience went wild as it floated down.

            Once Pat really succeeded at bewildering my dad. He had one of the pigeons made out of aluminum instead of clay, so when the bullet hit it, the pigeon would simply fall to the ground instead of shattering. Before that segment of the act, Pat announced to the audience, ‘This is Roy’s 156th show, and not once has he missed!’ The crowd hushed, Pat let the pigeon fly, Dad blasted away, and the target came down and hit the dirt.

            The whole audience gasped and went, ‘Ahhhhh!’ Dad couldn’t believe it! ‘But I never miss,’ he muttered, walking over to the pigeon. As soon as he picked it up he knew what had happened, so he dropped it. It clattered down the stage, and the kids realized it was a big put-on. Dad started chasing Pat around, and the kids really ate it up.


When Shug Fisher retired from the Sons of the Pioneers in 1959, Pat took his place in the group once more.



He remained with the Sons of the Pioneers until 1967 when he moved to Colorado Springs. He kept in touch with young Karl Farr and his family all the while and Karl took the next two pictures shortly before Pat died.



1971 in Colorado Springs. Left: the new Nelly Belle and right in Bill Wiley's barn.

(Karl E. Farr Collection)


The tragedy of his life was that, like so many young men, Pat had returned from the war with a drinking problem which plagued him and hindered his career and family life. He checked himself into a rehab centre after injuring himself and died there on February 27, 1972. Karl Jr remembers, "Pat was living at Bill Wiley's ranch in Black Forest.  I believe he was drinking that night and had a car accident. He was in a rest home with his jaw wired, got sick and choked." A sad end for a relatively young man who brought so many smiles to so many faces for so many years. The following typescript of a clipping from an unknown newspaper is here courtesy of Ed Phillips:


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Feb 28 (UPI)—Pat Brady, musician, singer and comic sidekick of Roy Rogers, the movie cowboy, died yesterday while visiting friends in nearby Green Mountain Falls. He was 57 years old.

        Mr. Brady appeared in nearly 80 motion pictures, usually as the genial Western character he made so popular. He was a familiar figure to millions of Americans because of the movies and a TV series he made with Mr. Rogers. He made his jeep “Nellie Bell” a household word with his catch phrase while trying to stop the vehicle—“Whooaa, Nellie Bell.”

        Mr. Brady was born in Toledo, Ohio, Dec. 31, 1914, the son of John Edward Brady and the former Lucille Brewer. Both parents were in show business and Mr. Brady made his theatrical debut at the age of 4 with his parents in a stage production called, “Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch.”

        While in high school Mr. Brady moved to California and began playing with his father at a nightclub in Sunset Beach. He played bass guitar [sic] and was spotted by Leonard Sly [sic].

        Mr. Sly, who became famous as Roy Rogers, was at that time with the Sons of the Pioneers singing group. When he went into movies he helped Mr. Brady join the group as his replacement.

        Mr. Brady stayed with the group until 1942, when he entered the Army. A tour in France with General Patton’s Third Army won him citations for valor and two Purple Hearts. He returned to the Sons in 1945 and left again in 1955. He still appeared occasionally with the group until moving to Colorado two years ago.

        He had been working with the Pine Cone Ranch near Colorado Springs and a local automotive agency. The authorities said death came from natural causes.

        Mr. Brady was separated from his wife.



David Rothel added, "Pat Brady died in The Ark, a rehabilitation center for alcoholics in Green Mountain Falls. He had admitted himself the day before. At Pat’s funeral on March 1, 1972, Hugh Farr and Lloyd Perryman of the Sons of the Pioneers played Tumbling Tumbleweeds and At the Rainbow’s End. The minister in his remarks made reference to Pat’s drinking problem and gave him credit for admitting himself for rehabilitation. Pat was buried at the Evergreen Cemetery with full military honors. His [second] wife Carol and their son, Pat, Jr., are his survivors."


Back to Sons of the Pioneers