The real lives of ‘reel’ cowboys to come alive at WRL is your source for free news and information in Williamsburg, James City & York Counties.

Gene Autry statue at the Autry Museum of the American West in Los Angeles. (Courtesy Chris English)
Gene Autry statue at the Autry Museum of the American West in Los Angeles. (Courtesy Chris English)

Librarian Andrew Smith always has had a passion for classic westerns.

Beyond the idyllic folklore of a cowboy riding into the sunset, Smith researched the lives of some of the most well-known actors — Gene Autry, Tom Mix and Randolph Scott — within the genre.

He wanted to know how they got their start, who they were, what they did outside of movies.

Now the life and times of these classic western movie stars are available for all to learn.

The Williamsburg Regional Library’s popular Talks@2 presentation series will feature “The Real Lives of Reel Cowboys,” and will explore the actors’ biographies before and after they became western icons.

The series evolved as a way to share with the community the vast and great knowledge librarians and other staff have, according to a WRL news release. The topics usually hinge on areas of particular interest to the staff.

“These three men portrayed different versions of the cowboy hero, but they all contributed to creating an American myth as large as the West itself,” said Smith. “In many ways, their own lives were also American myths, and I hope I can do justice to these incredible actors.”

Want to go?

The free program takes place at 2 p.m., March 13 at the James City County Library.

Upcoming Talks@2 include the history of how TV dinners shaped America, April 3; a look at the songs and tunes of Shakespearean times, May 16 and a celebration of 20th century icon and singer, Frank Sinatra, June 6.

A complete list of Talks@2 descriptions and locations is available at .