William Boyd – Hopalong Cassidy: 1895 – 1972:
Born in Ohio in 1895 and raised in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area, William Boyd arrived in Hollywood around 1918. He became a full-fledged leading man during the silent era, and his best work from that period included many films for Cecil B. deMille.
But roles had been tough to find during the early to mid 1930s. Stories and rumors generally mention: that Boyd looked too old due to his prematurely grey hair; and that Boyd was a womanizer and liked parties and alcohol.
In the mid 1930s, Harry “Pop” Sherman convinced Paramount to release a series of westerns based on the Hopalong Cassidy novels and short stories authored by Clarence E. Mulford. Forty year old William Boyd was given the lead of Hopalong Cassidy.
The first in the new series, HOP-A-LONG CASSIDY (Paramount, 1935) had Boyd being helped by James Ellison, a handsome fellah and pretty good actor who portrayed Hoppy's saddle pal 'Johnny Nelson'.
The Cassidy films, particularly the 1935-1941 Paramount releases, are a definite notch or two above the typical B western, and the production quality and higher budgets are immediately apparent. Plus, the scripting and plots were good, the photography was superb, and about half were filmed at scenic Lone Pine, California. Additionally, the running times were much longer than the normal 55-60 minute B western movies.
When the Hopalong Cassidy series ended in the 1950s, Boyd purchased the rights to the Hopalong films and character. He also formed his own production company to resurrect the Cassidy cinema adventures.
When TV came, the Hopalong movies were edited down to about 54 minutes to fit both film and commercials into a one hour time slot. For the 1952-53 and 1953-54 seasons, there were 52 half-hour Hoppy adventures. A dozen were created (condensed) from the later United Artists films with Andy Clyde and Rand Brooks. And 40 brand new “made for TV” half hour Hoppy shows were shown.
In addition to TV, Boyd did circuses, rodeos, personal appearance tours, hospital visits, et al. He brought the Hoppy series to radio ... he opened up his own Hoppyland theme park ... and merchandising included hats, gunbelts, lunch buckets, clothing and more. There was also a long running series of comic books. He was on the covers of magazines such as Life, Look and TV Guide.
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This is Bill Boyd before he became Hopalong Cassidy.
Western partners Jeff (J. Farrell MacDonald) and Cash (William Farnum) find a baby boy in an otherwise deserted emigrants camp, and clash over which is to be "father".
They are still bitterly feuding years later when they own adjacent ranches.
Bill, the foundling whom Cash has raised to young manhood, wants to end the feud and extends an olive branch toward Jeff, who now has a lovely daughter.
But during a mining venture, the bitterness escalates
This 31st entry of the 66 films in the Hopalong Cassidy series marks the first of 35 consecutive appearances, in the remaining films of the series, of comedian Andy Clyde in the role of "California Carlson".
This film finds local officers in an outlaw-infested town in California helpless to cope with the situation and a citizens committee comes to Texas and appeals to the Texas Rangers for help in organizing the forces of law and order. Captain Andrews of the Rangers offers the assignment to Hopalong Cassidy and Lucky Jenkins (Russell Hayden), but Cassidy, whose period of service in the Rangers is almost over, refuses. The as-usual impetuous Lucky takes the job alone. While on patrol duty, Cassidy is following the trail of a large herd of rustled horses and discovers the hide-out of the Bruce Morgan gang...
Hoppy, California and Johnny are Texas Rangers trying to end a scheme which smuggles Mexicans into the United States to become essentially slaves in a silver mine owned by Orestes Krebs. The three are captured, sentenced to hang, and then escape. They free the slaves and capture the bad guys.
Julie's husband has been murdered and land agents want her to sign away her property rights. Hoppy warns against this but she does so anyway. It looks as though she will be unable to deliver the timber called for in her agreement. Hoppy has to make the lumber deal happened and solve the murder.
6a. Hopalong Cassidy Rides Again (1937) part 1 - On a cattle drive Hoppy, camp cook Windy, companion Lucky, and young Artie Peters encounter an eccentric professor. The professor professes to be searching for the evolutionary missing link, but in reality he is a cattle rustler who uses his dynamite to scatter the cattle in order capture some of them. Hoppy and Bar 20 guys ultimately capture the professor.
7a. Hopalong Cassidy Silver on the Sage (1939) part 1 - Hoppy goes undercover as a gambler from the East when Bar 20 cattle are stolen by unknown rustlers. Brennan/Talbot are twin brothers (one a casino owner, the other a rancher) and Hoppy believes they provide alibis for each other while one is out committing crimes. Hoppy gets a job in the casino to learn more but is exposed when a gambling gunslinger notices him.
8a. Hopalong Cassidy - Hidden Gold (1940) part 1 - Hoppy and Lucky confront a gang of outlaws which has been ravaging stagecoaches and gold mines. The final gunfight is at Ed Colby's mine.
9. Doomed Caravan (1941) - Hopalong Cassidy - In old California, as a favor to a mine owner friend, ranch hand Hopalong Cassidy, his sidekick, Lucky Jenkins, and other ranch hands escort a load of gold bullion safely to Crescent City. When they deliver the gold to Jane Travers, owner of the Crescent City Freight Company, she informs "Hoppy" that unidentified outlaws have burned several of her storehouses and have robbed her wagon train shipments. Although she has called for U.S. troopers to guard her next shipment, Hoppy agrees to ride along as extra insurance. Hoppy becomes suspicious of the troopers when they arrive because of their motley uniforms and behavior, and tells Jane that he and his men will not ride along with her after all.
10. LEATHER BURNERS (1943) Hopalong Cassidy - As rustled cattle have mysteriously disappeared, Johnny sends for his friend Hoppy, Hoppy arrives and immediately suspects Dan Slack. Realizing his telegram about Slack was intercepted, he locks up the operator Lafe knowing he can escape. Tailing Lafe he finds a secret entrance to a mine and inside finds the missing cattle. But Slack's men also find him just as the cattle are stampeded through the mine shaft. [Added]
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