THE daughter of Hollywood’s most famous singing cowboy hero will tell the amazing story of how she was plucked from a Scottish orphanage to become his foster child.
A BBC documentary will chart Mimi Swift’s heartwarming journey from abandoned teenager, living at an austere children’s home in Edinburgh, to a privileged upbringing at the palatial home of Roy Rogers and his wife Dale Evans. The Roy Rogers Kid is one of the listening highlights of Radio Scotland’s festive schedule. Presenter Stephen Jardine said: “I’ve just recorded a Christmas special for with this amazing woman. It is the most beautiful, heartwarming, feel-good story.”
The programme follows Marion Fleming, 79 – now known as Mimi Swift – as she returns to her roots in Scotland with her own family.
Her adventure began in 1954 when Rogers, in his distinctive white stetson and his hand-tooled boots, toured the UK with Dale and his golden palomino horse Trigger.
The couple, whose theme song was Happy Trails, were famously photographed with Trigger ascending the stairs at the Caledonian Hotel in the capital to drum up publicity.
Later they visited the Church of Scotland-run Dunforth Children’s Home where Marion, 13, sang Won’t You Buy My Pretty Flowers?
The couple were captivated and two weeks later Marion – dressed in a kilt – was packing a suitcase and boarding her first plane to California to become their fourth foster child.
The Rogers family welcomed her with open arms and she didn’t return to Scotland until she was married, with her own daughter.
Marion was born in an air raid shelter in Craigmillar, Edinburgh, in 1940, and her mother left the family shortly after giving birth. With her father off fighting in the war, Marion’s early childhood was spent with her sisters in a series of girls’ homes.
She was encouraged to write to her birth parents and siblings and still visits her elder sister in Edinburgh.
She said: “Mom and dad always thought it was important to stay connected to your roots and this sentiment prompted my latest visit.”
Roy Rogers Kid, BBC Radio Scotland, Christmas Day, 1pm