Hopalong Cassidy (series)

Hopalong Cassidy (series)

Synopsis of Movie

Starting in the 1920’s and spanning through the 40’s, Clarence E. Mulford wrote twenty-eight Hopalong Cassidy novels. Paramount proposed a film based on the novels, and with the promising success of the first, the Hollywood Western factory started to churn…

William Boyd, a silent movie actor previously under contract to Cecil B. DeMille, was initially set to play a ruffian in this first film, but wound up the two-fisted cowboy hero after first choice James Gleason passed on the role. Boyd would go on to star in sixty-six Hopalong features.

In Hoppy’s first outing, titled Hopalong Cassidy (but also Hop Along Cassidy and Hopalong Cassidy Enters), our hero returns to his Bar 20 ranch, where trouble is brewing between his men and those from a neighboring ranch, over water rights. When it turns out that cattle rustlers are pitting the two sides against one another so that they can steal cows and sell them to the railroad, Hoppy and his men track the rustlers down.

Boyd’s Hoppy was a tough guy only when he had to be—usually, he was a pillar of virtue out there on the range. He didn’t drink or smoke, he didn’t pucker up to the ladies, and he regularly let the bad guy draw first if a gunfight was unavoidable. Boyd also made it a point for his character to always use perfect grammar, not wanting his alter ego to sound like a cowpoke.

Aboard his trusty steed “Topper,” and flanked by sidekicks such as Johnny Nelson and Uncle, Hoppy was a draw at the Saturday matinees from 1935 to 1948. Boyd himself never stopped working, even when the camera stopped rolling. With a United Artists distribution deal under his holster, he bought the rights to the Hopalong character in 1946. He then acquired the older pictures from Paramount, and licensed them to NBC in 1949, which televised them as one-hour episodes.

After Hoppy hit the TV airwaves, the craze began in earnest—worldwide, no less, as the episodes began airing overseas. The 55-year-old Boyd, even though he had dozens and dozens of features already under his belt, became an “overnight sensation.” He formed a television company and industriously shot new half-hour episodes. He did worldwide press tours and made constant public appearances, sometimes drawing million-plus crowds that included presidents, generals and ambassadors. He also had the amazing foresight, given the girth of merchandise that was created and sold, to license his own image.

When Boyd was in his 60’s, he decided to finally hang up his boots. It was an agonizing decision—his fans were still hungry for more, and his loyal production crew would potentially be out of work. Fortunately, CBS was about to start shooting the series Gunsmoke. Boyd got to turn his entire crew over to the newest Western in town, ensuring that his loyal pals would have plenty of work for years to come. Even in retirement, Hoppy was a prince among cowboys.

Movie Release History

1935 - Hopalong Cassidy ( Hopalong Cassidy Enters )
1936 - Hopalong Cassidy Returns
1938 - Cassidy of Bar 20
1941 - In Old Colorado
1943 - Bar 20
1948 - The Dead Don't Dream

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Bill 'Hop-along'/'Hoppy' Cassidy  William Boyd
Johnny Nelson  James Ellison
Mary Meeker  Paula Stone
Uncle Ben  George 'Gabby' Hayes
Pecos Jack Anthony  Kenneth Thomson
Red Connors  Frank McGlynn Jr.
Buck Peters   Charles Middleton
Jim Meeker  Robert Warwick
Salem the Cook  Willie Fung
Frisco   Frank Campeau
Tom Shaw  Jim Mason
Hall   Ted Adams
Doc Riley  Franklyn Farnum
California Carlson Andy Clyde

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