January 12, 1905 - January 2, 1974 Nederland, Texas
Maurice Woodward Ritter, better known as "Tex" embodied the spirit and nostalgia of the American Cowboy. He was born in Panola County, Texas and moved to Nederland, Texas as a child.
Ritter began his career in radio and theater. He sang on KPRC-AM in Houston and appeared as Cord Elam in the Broadway production Green Grow the Lilacs (1931), the basis for the musical Oklahoma! He also played the part of Sagebrush Charlie in The Round Up (1932) and Mother Lode (1934).
In 1932, he starred in New York City's first broadcast Western, The Lone Star Rangers. Ritter also wrote and starred in Cowboy Tom's Roundup on WINS-AM, a daily children's program.
Moving to California, Ritter teamed up with Johnny Mack Brown for films such as The Lone Star Trail (1943), Raiders of San Joaquin (1943), Cheyenne Roundup (1943) and The Old Chisholm Trail (1942). He was also the star of the films Arizona Trail (1943), and Marshal of Gunsmoke (1944).
He was the first artist signed with the newly formed Capitol Records. In 1944, he scored a hit with "I'm Wastin' My Tears on You," which hit number one on the country chart and number 11 on the pop chart. Ritter first toured Europe in 1952 and recorded the movie title-track song "High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me)," which also became a hit. At the first televised Academy Awards ceremony in 1953, he sang "High Noon," which received an Oscar for Best Song.
Ritter became one of the founding members of the Country Music Association in Nashville, Tennessee, and spearheaded the effort to build the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum into which he was inducted in 1964. He moved to Nashville in 1965 and began working for WSM Radio and the Grand Ole Opry. During this period, Ritter played himself in the 1966 film Nashville Rebel, which introduced a little-known country singer named Waylon Jennings. Ritter's 1967 single "Just Beyond The Moon" with lyrics by Jeremy Slate hit No. 3 on the country chart.
For his contribution to the recording industry, Ritter has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He was the father of actor John Ritter and grandfather to actors Jason and Tyler Ritter.
Having achieved great success in radio, theater, film, and the music recording industry, Tex Ritter is one of the titans of American entertainers. Despite living in New York, Los Angeles, and Nashville, Ritter chose to be buried near his hometown of Nederland at Oak Bluff Cemetery in Port Neches, Texas. He is a member of the Museum of the Gulf Coast, Music Hall of Fame.