Monday, September 12, 2011

My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys...!

I have to admit that, during my childhood, I spent a lot of time with ol' Hopalong!

We rode off on many adventures together, although a large number of them were only in my imagination. I would imagine a lot of kids from my generation had a hero or two they went on similar travels with!

It could be that lots of what they tried to teach us got through. I can remember so many of the "cowboy rules of living" Hoppy and his friends passed on to me and many of them are just as good today as they always were! Guess that it's a good thing we had someone like Hopalong to serve as our guide and mentor. Some kids today could probably use some of that mentoring, don't you think?

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.

One thing about it, I'd be willing to bet there are a lot of folks that can remember Hopalong Cassidy and all his sidekicks, even if they didn't watch him on television! That's how big an impression he made on so many people! Even today his name is known by many!

Let's get some fresh coffee and go sit on the patio for a bit! You can tell me about some of your early heroes!


Gorges Smythe said...

Them wuz the good ol' days!

Ben in Texas said...

Oh Man, you hurt my brain this morning. Saturday Afternoons at the Matinee
Roy Rogers even did a song about it.. Remember? Roy Rogers Hoppy, Gene, and Me.

Sixbears said...

Recently came across an old photo of me when I was about 5 years old. I had the hat, the shirt and two six shooters. Dad loved those old westerns.

Momlady said...

Oh, Cisco...Oh, Pancho. I could name more. Loved those old westerns.

Anonymous said...

You recall the joke:

"Knock knock."
"Who's there?"
"Kilroy who?"
"Kil Roy Rogers! I'm Gene Autry's fan."

I never believed the nasty rumor Roy Rogers was a sissie.

Old Jules said...

Never saw any of them on TV but those Saturday morning movie theater serials kept me abreast of Hoppy, Roy, Gene, Whip Wilson and Lash Larue.

TV didn't come to Portales, NM until around 1957.

Dizzy-Dick said...

Thank goodness for satellite TV (or cable). They are showing some of the old westerns on The Western channel. Every afternoon, I try to watch The Virginian, Wagon Train, Have Gun Will Travel, and Gun Smoke. Out of these, I like wagon train the best. It tried to teach us morals.

JoJo said...

Great Post! My grandmother couldn't speak more than 10 words in english, but she loved her western movies and shows. She had those copper horse all over her house. I sure wish I had them now they are worth a fortune. Anyway I loved them too I had Roy Rogers picture in my room. I think Roy was all the girls favorite.
Thanks for the memories Jim. Goin to see if I can't find my horse. LOL

HermitJim said...

Hey Gorges...
They sure wuz, buddy! They sure wuz!

Sure had a lot of fun, pretending to be those guys!

Thanks for the visit today!

Hey Ben...
Sure does bring a flood of memories rushing back, doesn't it?

Thanks for the visit today, buddy!

Hey Sixbears...
WOW! yYou had two guns? That's pretty cool!

I think I only had one gun, but I had a lot of sticks that did double duty!

No telling how many rolls of caps I ran through that old gun!

Thanks for dropping by today, Sixbears!

Hey Momlady...
I sure am glad that someone else remembers the "Cisco Kid" besides me!

That was one of those Saturday shows my sisters and I never missed!

Reckon we are showing our age here?

Hey, thanks for the visit this morning!

Hey Anon 8:20...
Never thought for a second that Roy or any of the rest of 'em were sissies!

Never heard the joke, but it is a pretty good one!

Thanks for coming by today!

Hey Old Jules...
Boy, those old serials sure kept us coming back for more!

Zorro, Captain Midnight, all the rest of them were good entertainment! Lots of memories there!

Thanks for dropping in today!

Hey DD...
My Dad would have loved the western channel! He loved a good western, especially Gunsmoke!

Clint Eastwood probably has a soft spot in his heart for "Rawhide" as well! Was a great start for him!

Thanks, my friend, for coming by today!

Hey JoJo...
Many folks from the old country associated the old west with America!

Cowboys and Indians were a big part of our history, real or imagined!

I'll bet those copper horses are indeed worth a fortune!

Thanks, sweetie, for coming by today!

Phyllis (N/W Jersey) said...

Thanks for the memories! Even as a little girl I had the Hoppy six shooters, hat and toys. He was my hero. Also liked Roy and Gene and The Lone Ranger. I remember I had the Roy Rodgers chuck wagon. It was pulled by two horses, had Pat Brady in a jeep that when you pushed it, the hood went up and down.
All the characters were there including Bullet, the dog. Gosh they were the "Good Old Days!"

Judy said...

Remember the Hopalong Cassidy coffee mugs? We kids, each had one, and were for hot cocoa on Sunday evenings before bed.

HermitJim said...

Hey Phyllis...
Bet you were the coolest girl on the block!

The Lone Ranger was certainly one of the good guys!

Man, I hadn't thought of Pat Brady in a long time! The jeep's name was "Nellie Belle" if I remember correctly!

Hey, thanks for coming by today!

Hey Judy...
Just think about all the cool stuff we had as kids that would be worth some money now days!

We just didn't know how well off we were!

My dear friend, thanks for dropping by today!

Bob Mc said...

Along about 1942 - 1943 Roy Rogers put on a stage show in Chicago, Ill. I was just a little tike, but my father was working at the theater where it took place. I got to go back stage and meet Roy. He picked me up and put me on Trigger's back. I think that started a life long love affair with horses.

Life and times of Lord Herbert said...

Wow! The memories! Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

HermitJim said...

Hey Bob...
That's a great memory! Having a chance to meet ol' Roy in person must have been a wonderful experience!

What a thrill...getting to sit on Trigger!

Thanks for coming by today, my friend!

Hey RV Travels...
Really brings some memories back, doesn't it?

Thanks so much for coming over today!