Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Once Again We Ride The Range...!

Because it's Western Wednesday, I thought we should take a look at one of the most iconic western heroes of our time, Hopalong Cassidy!

Not many cowboys had as much influence on the public's view of the western as an entertainment factor as ol' Hopalong did! Most modern western shows could thank him for a large part of their success!

Sep 12, 1972:
Hopalong Cassidy rides off into his last sunset

After nearly 40 years of riding across millions of American TV and movie screens, the cowboy actor William Boyd, best known for his role as Hopalong Cassidy, dies on this day in 1972 at the age of 77.

Boyd's greatest achievement was to be the first cowboy actor to make the transition from movies to television. Following World War II, Americans began to buy television sets in large numbers for the first time, and soon I Love Lucy and The Honeymooners were standard evening fare for millions of families. But despite their proven popularity in movie theaters, westerns were slow to come to the small screen. Many network TV producers scorned westerns as lowbrow "horse operas" unfit for their middle- and upper-class audiences.

Riding to the small screen's rescue came the movie cowboy, William Boyd. During the 1930s, Boyd made more than 50 cheap but successful "B-grade" westerns starring as Hopalong Cassidy. Together with his always loyal and outlandishly intelligent horse, Topper, Hopalong righted wrongs, saved school marms in distress, and single-handedly fought off hordes of marauding Indians. After the war, Boyd recognized an opportunity to take Hopalong and Topper into the new world of television, and he began to market his old "B" westerns to TV broadcasters in Los Angeles and New York City. A whole new generation of children thrilled to "Hoppy's" daring adventures, and they soon began to clamor for more.

Rethinking their initial disdain for the genre, producers at NBC contracted with Boyd in 1948 to produce a new series of half-hour westerns for television. By 1950, American children had made Hopalong Cassidy the seventh most popular TV show in America and were madly snapping up genuine "Hoppy" cowboy hats, chaps, and six-shooters, earning Boyd's venture more than $250 million. Soon other TV westerns followed Boyd's lead, becoming popular with both children and adults. In 1959, seven of the top-10 shows on national television were westerns like The Rifleman, Rawhide, and Maverick. The golden era of the TV western would finally come to an end in 1975 when the long-running Gunsmoke left the air, three years after Boyd rode off into his last sunset.

Sometimes all it takes is one man's vision to greatly affect the way things are done. Maybe this lesson we all should try and remember, especially around November!

The right man with the right vision could be an inspiration to all of us to set things right again, don't you think? Of course, the main thing is to participate in the process!

Coffee on the patio this morning! We can watch the hummingbirds fight for ownership of the feeder!


Catman said...

I loved Westerns as a kid, and still do when they're done right. Many of the old Western serials from theaters have come to DVD. Though it isn't truly a Western, my mom has become quite enamored of the original Zorro serial. Who could forget "The Vigilantes Are Coming" and "Phantom Of The West". Do we all long for simpler times?

Gorges Smythe said...

I see those old shows now and see how unrealistic they were, but I sure loved them then!

Phyllis (N/W Jersey) said...

Oh, how I loved Hoppy! I had pictures of of him in my room. Back then, if you wrote asking for a photograph they would send you a big, signed glossy. Wish I still had that and my six shooters that came with rolls and rolls of red caps. My dad built our first tiny television and we would sit and watch all those great westerns. Where did those simple, innocent days go?
How about I bring some apple turnovers while we watch the amazing hummingbirds?

Sunnybrook Farm said...

I watch Roy Rogers on TV now and it is strange how unrealistic they were but as a kid they were fun to watch. But really if you look at the shows as short plays that are for entertainment and laughs, they are still lots of fun to watch. They are no less realistic than some modern plays, you have to use your imaginations on things like that. There is no evidence that a cow boy ever went to the bathroom but I am sure they did, you just didn't have to show everything back then.

linda m said...

I loved Hopalong Cassidy - he was my favorite cowboy. But then I liked all the cowboys back them. Were the shows unrealistic? Yes, but who cared back then, we all loved our cowboys. I love my humming birds and they are still coming to my feeder.

Dizzy-Dick said...

I still watch the old westerns, they are on the Western channel daily. I watch Have Gun Will Travel, Wagon Train, Raw Hide, and both the half hour and the hour Gunsmoke shows. I love satellite TV.

HermitJim said...

Hey Catman...
I guess the main thing is that most all the westerns in the early days were like morality plays!

Good vs. Evil, right vs. wrong, and doing the right thing! What a concept! No wonder the early cowboys became such heroes to us all!

I always liked Zorro myself! Cool guy with a great hideout!

Thanks for coming over today!

Hey Gorges...
It's the fantasy that makes them fun! Kinda like the space shows from the 50's!

Still, they were good entertainment!

Thanks, my friend, for coming over this morning!

Hey Phyllis...
I think that Hoppy was the first good guy to dress all in black! Really pushed the edge, he did!

I would love some apple turnovers!

Hey, thanks for coming by today!

Hey Sunnybrook...
Giving the imagination a good workout was sort of the whole point, I think!

It must have worked, because nearly everyone I knew recognized who Hoppy was, knew his horse's name, and could certainly recognize his side kicks!

Fun days back then, that's for sure!

Thanks so much for coming by this morning!

Hey Linda...
I don't think that realism had any place in our young minds back then!

We just didn't care! The good guys could somehow win the day and we knew that!

My feeder stays pretty busy everyday! Only seem to have two, but they are aggressive little rascals! Love to watch them!

Thanks for dropping by this morning!

HermitJim said...

Hey Dizzy...
I get the western channel on Comcast and once in a while, I watch a really good western on it!

One of the most popular channels in the area, I think!

Considering how long Gunsmoke ran, they must have done something right!

Thanks, Buddy, for coming over this morning!

JOJO said...

I remember Hoppy but liked Roy Rogers the best. Then there was the masked man. And yes Zorro he was something else. Loved him too.
Now nothing on TV is worth watching.

I love the hummers I have 2 feeders here and they do fight. I don't hang them in Tucson anymore the wood peckers drain them in about an hour.

HermitJim said...

Hey JoJo...
How could anyone not like Roy, his wife Dale Evans, his sidekick Pat Brady...and of course Trigger and Bullet (his dog)!

Pat even had a jeep named "NellyBelle", if I remember correctly!

Hummingbirds can sure be entertaining to watch!

Thanks, sweetie, for coming over today!

JMD said...

HJ, I think that is why I really enjoyed all those old cowboys shows (Roy Rogers, Lone Ranger, Hop A Long) because they always wanted to stand up for what was right. Sigh...such a long time ago. Probably about time for a cartoon, huh?

Bob Mc said...

No one is making good westerns anymore. The last really good western movie that I saw was "Monty Walsh" starring Tom Selleck, and it was a remake of an earlier version starring Lee Marvin. I think I've mentioned it before, but when I was just a sprout of about 4 or 5 years old I got to meet Roy Rogers and actually sat on Trigger. Must have made an impression, because I still remember it.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

HJ, I can remember watching these westerns, especially the later ones on weekends like Have Gun Will Travel, Gunsmoke, Maverick and Bonanza.