Kenny Rogers Remembered: "I Never Saw a Guy Who Enjoyed His Success So Much"

CBS/Photofest
Kenny Rogers (left) and Bruce Boxleitner in 'The Gambler' (1980)

Actor Bruce Boxleitner recalls filming five 'Gambler' TV movies with the iconic country singer, who died Friday at the age of 81.

Actor Bruce Boxleitner is best known for his 1983-1897 CBS series The Scarecrow and Mrs. King, but he also appeared in TV shows including How the West Was Won, Bring ‘Em Back Alive and Babylon 5. He writes below of Kenny Rogers, who died Friday.

We did five Gambler TV movies together — pretty much throughout the 1980s. We had one of those relationships where we didn’t have to see each other a lot but as soon as we were back together again you knew it was going to be fun.

He loved the character he played in those movies. He played this professional gambler — it was based on his hit song "The Gambler" — and I played this big lug of a farm kid who falls in with him. It was kind of funny because I used to tell Kenny that in traditional Westerns, it was the tall, strapping, handsome, clean-shaven guy that was the hero. The rumpled-looking bearded old guy was supposed to be the sidekick. He’d just give me a sock in the arm.

He was the same warm, big-hearted personality you saw on the screen. He was the genuine article. He was one of those people that just draws people around him. He was a big fella, with that great voice with the slight Texas drawl. And I never saw a guy who enjoyed his success so much. Some people, it’s a burden in many ways. They don’t feel they deserve it. But he enjoyed every minute of it.