Hopalong Cassidy

Hopalong Cassidy (Pix)

William Boyd

Born on June 5, 1895 in Hendrysburg, Ohio

Died on September 12, 1972 in Laguna Beach, California of Parkinson's disease and heart failure

Hopalong Cassidy is a fictional cowboy hero created in 1904 by author Clarence E. Mulford who wrote a series of popular short stories and twenty-eight novels based on the character.

In Mulford's early writings, the character appears as rude, dangerous, and rough-talking. Beginning in 1935, the character ‒ as played by movie actor William Boyd ‒ was transformed into a clean-cut, on-screen hero in a series of sixty-six immensely popular films, only a few of which relied on Mulford's original story lines. Mulford would later rework and publish his earlier writings based on the character's new polished on-screen persona.

The Mutual Broadcasting System began broadcasting a radio version of Hopalong Cassidy, with Andy Clyde (later George McMichael on Walter Brennan's ABC sitcom The Real McCoys) as the sidekick, in January 1950; at the end of September, the show moved to CBS Radio, where it ran into 1952.

William Boyd had an interesting career.  He was a major star in silent films, appearing as a romantic lead by directors like Cecil B. Demille.  Later, in the sound era, he wound up making "B" Westerns and it seemed his career had pretty much wound down.  But, with the coming of television, Boyd bought the Westerns and syndicated them to stations eager for new shows.  They were a tremendous hit, spawning all manner of merchandise and kicking off interest in Westerns with a whole new generation.

Boyd set up a company, Commodore, specifically for creating a radio series based on Hopalong Cassidy and the funds from that venture, along with the returns from television syndication of his old Westerns, made him pretty well off in his later years.  In the photo above, Boyd looks pretty happy being "Hoppy" to all those kids out there.

Funny how these guys in Westerns, like William Boyd, Gene Autry, and Roy Rogers had a keen business sense.  I guess that's what happens when you ride horses, lead a clean life, and have an amusing, crusty sidekick to keep you company.