Tuesday, September 12, 2017

So Long, Hopalong Cassidy...!

So many people I know, including myself, grew up with one of their heroes being Hopalong Cassidy. He just always seemed to show up when he was needed the most.

Of course, the road to success for the so-called "horse operas" on television wasn't an easy one. Thanks to folks like Hopalong, Gene Autry, Cisco Kid, and Zorro for the hard work it took to bring these shows (and so many more) to our living rooms.

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.

Seems to me that we could use a few more shows like these in today's market. Most of these shows at least had a message or moral to them, and I know that is something we could all use a bit more of today.

Coffee out on the patio again today!

13 comments:

Janet said...

Years ago I worked for a doctor in Dallas who bought a car from Hopalong. It was a white 1956 Thunderbird convertible with a black shell top. He gave it to his wife, Pat and she had "Pat-Pat" for a license plate. I never got to ride in it but it sure was a beautiful car.

HermitJim said...

Hey Janet...
I'll bet she was proud to have that car! Heck, I'd be proud to have it!
Thanks for stopping by today!

Sixbears said...

I agree, we could use some good shows. I happen to like it when the good guys win.

Rob said...

The other day I thought of "Have Gun, Will Travel". It's been awhile...

linda m said...

I miss those old shows. I was huge fan of the Westerns (even had a Hopalong Cassidy lunchbox). We sure could use some shows like them today. Good triumphs over evil is a motto we sure need today.

Beth Bailey said...

Small screen is right! Remember our first tv? I, too ,loved and still like westerns. When I lived in Missouri and again here I called the cable company to ask for a western channel. The kid at the cable company said I was the first woman he had ever heard of that liked westerns. Think he exaggerated a little? Rob, our mother (who claimed not to enjoy tv really liked Have Gun Will Travel. She would stop and watch it. Have a good day all. Love you, Bubba.

JO said...

I was pretty much raised on westerns from a wee bit of a tot. Since I gave up Directv and went back to antenna TV I get to see lots of old westerns including Have Gun Will Travel, old shows can be seen on MeTV. And not just westerns other great old shows too

Patio time right now is so nice while it is still cool. We are still in triple digits but low triples.

HermitJim said...

Hey Sixbears...
Just doesn't happen often enough, if you ask me.
Thanks for coming by this morning!


Hey Rob...
Now I have that theme song stuck in my mind. Bummer!
Thanks for the visit today!


Hey Linda...
I certainly have to agree with you on that! I'll choose good over evil anytime!
Thanks for stopping by today!


Hey B...
Dad sure liked his westerns, with Gunsmoke and Bonanza being his favorites. Even on our small screen, the early good guys were great! Later, when we got the bigger screen they got even better!
Thanks for the visit, B!

taminator013 said...

My wife and I spend an two hours of quality time together on Saturday afternoons. By that I mean that we stop whatever we're doing to watch reruns of "Rawhide" and "Wanted: Dead or Alive" on MeTV.......................

Ian H said...

Morals and ethics are badly missing!

Dizzy-Dick said...

Oh yes I remember Hoppy. I still watch the old black and white TV shows on the GET TV channel and the Western channel. Right now I am watching a black and white Death Valley Days show.

HermitJim said...

Hey Taminaor13...
I say why not, as long as you both enjoy it! Always good to have someone to share things with, I reckon!
Thanks for the visit today!


Hey Ian...
That they are, my friend.
Thanks for coming over today!


Hey Dizzy...
Sometimes black and white is the best way to watch certain shows. I can remember when that's all we had.
Thanks for dropping by today!

Barbar Cat said...

While reading the article, when it got to the part of Hoppy's "loyal and outlandishly..." I thought it was going to say, "...sidekick, Tonto!" Tonto got left out of that, and I remember him always being a big part of the episodes.

We kids loved the westerns!