Gene Autry's long and varied career began as an amateur singer on local broadcast radio in his hometown of Ravia, Oklahoma (apparently the home state of many a singing cowboy!). After successfully landing a recording contract, his rather strange entrance into films came in 1935, with the adventure serial "The Phantom Empire." In this twelve-part cliffhanger, Autry played himself: a radio performer and singing cowboy named Gene Autry, who, along with several trusty young members of his fan-club, gets caught up in intrigue involving the long-lost, scientifically advanced underground Kingdom of Murania and its beautiful-yet-evil Queen Teeka. Autry soon moved on to more traditional Western fare. Ironically, however, his big break into radio wouldn't come until 1940, meaning that before he became a radio star, Autry had played one in "The Phantom Empire."