When he was on In the Heat of the Night he was contacted by someone from Gene Autry's office. Gene wanted to know if they were related. Alan was a big fan of Gene and had been told by his family as a kid that they were relatives, but they did not know how they were related. Gene decided to have a genealogist check into it.They found that Alan's paternal grandfather and Gene Autry's father were brothers.
Alan and Gene got to meet with each other and were friends until Gene's death.