When you are done visiting Fort Bowie, let us suggest that you visit the Rex Allen Museum in downtown Willcox. This is a fun and educational small town museum that does of great job in honoring one of Hollywood's great cowboy stars. This wonderful museum memorializes a different time in America and well worth the visit.
For those of the Boomer Generation, shows and names like Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color, Frontier Doctor, Koko and Slim Pickens bring back memories of youth when the American cowboy was the common hero of Hollywood’s big screens and 10-cent comic books. One Arizona cowboy by the name of Rex Allen became Hollywood “Cowboy Royalty” during those years and a museum dedicated to his life story is a wonderful reason to get out and visit Willcox, Arizona.
Rex Allen, “The Arizona Cowboy”, grew up in Willcox playing his Sear & Roebuck mail-order guitar with his fiddle-playing father at local dances. He first sang professionally in 1948 for Mercury Records and made his first of nineteen western movies, Arizona Cowboy, in 1950.
In his movies Rex Allen was always cast as himself. He always wore his white Stetson hat, epitomizing the clean-cut, God-fearing hero of the Wild West who loved his horse named Koko, “The Miracle Horse of the Movies.”
The Hollywood producers had originally selected Koko for Dale Evans, wife of Roy Rogers, but the beautiful chocolate chestnut stallion with flowing white tail and mane was just too big for Ms. Evans. Allen said that he fell in love with Koko the moment he laid eyes on him. Koko was said to have been the most beautiful horse ever to appear in movies. Together, the horse and the cowboy made cowboy entertainment history until Koko’s death in 1967.
Rex Allen made the last of Hollywood’s singing western cowboy movies in 1954, The Phantom Stallion. Yet his deep, soothing voice not only made beautiful music but helped teach generations of American children about their world when he signed on to work for Walt Disney. For over 20 years it was Rex Allen’s voice narrating Disney’s Wonderful World of Color nature shows. He also was a voice behind over 150 of Disney’s different cartoon characters, with the barnyard antics of Charlotte’s Web being one of his personal favorites.
Rex Allen, The Arizona Cowboy, sang his last western melody in 1999. His ashes were scattered in Railroad Park, just across the street from the Rex Allen Arizona Cowboy Museum. Here too, in a beautiful memorial park, is found a life-size statue of Rex Allen. At the feet of the statue lies the mortal remains of Koko - the two Western friends together forever.