George “Gabby” Hayes was born in Wellsville, New York in 1885, and during his teen years, he joined some traveling shows. Burlesque and vaudeville work followed.
When sound films arrived, he began doing bit and character parts, including a variety of roles as a baddie, father of the heroine, et al in 1930s vintage sagebrush yarns with John Wayne, Bob Steele, Rex Bell, others. In some jobs, he was clean-shaven, while in others, he was a bearded, tobacco-chewing codger.
His first major role was portraying 'Windy Haliday', the sidekick to Hopalong Cassidy at Paramount. This took a while to happen and Hayes played some different characters in the initial four Hoppy films - he was 'Uncle Ben' in HOPALONG CASSIDY (Paramount, 1935); 'Spike' in THE EAGLES BROOD (Paramount, 1935); 'Windy' in BAR 20 RIDES AGAIN (Paramount, 1935); and 'Shanghai' in CALL OF THE PRAIRIE (Paramount, 1936).
THREE ON THE TRAIL (Paramount, 1936) was Gabby's first as 'Windy Halliday', and he would continue that role through THE RENEGADE TRAIL (Paramount, 1939). The total Hoppy films in which Hayes played 'Windy Halliday' (including the two mentioned) is eighteen.
In 1939, Hayes switched to Republic Pictures and his first sidekick role with Roy Rogers was in SOUTHWARD HO (Republic, 1939). He did 41 films with Roy Rogers, but these were separated into two bunches - in between, Hayes was the saddle pal to Wild Bill Elliott in his 1943-1944 series of eight, as well as the first two Red Ryder oaters (which also starred Elliott). During his Republic days, Hayes generally had a screen name of 'Gabby Whittaker'. His last film with Roy was HELDORADO (Republic, 1946).
In the 1950s, Gabby had his own NBC TV program, appropriately titled THE GABBY HAYES SHOW, in which he'd introduce/moderate old B westerns that were cut down to about a half-hour length.
Hayes had his own comic book series from 1948 thru 1957 (Fawcett's "Gabby Hayes Western", Issues # 1 thru 59).
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