Words to Hoppy's Theme song:
Here he comes, here he comes
There's the trumpets, there's the drums, here he comes.
Hopalong Cassidy, here he comes.
There he goes, on his way,
Down the trail the cowboy way.
Hopalong Cassidy, Hopalong Cassidy.
He returns, soon again,
There's no use to say goodbye until then.
Hopalong Cassidy, so long Hopalong
Born June 5, 1895, in Cambridge, OH
Died September 13, 1972, in Laguna Beach, CA
Will the Real William Boyd Please Stand Up?
William L. Boyd - Actor, producer. William Lawrence Boyd was a star who had the distinction of maintaining his popularity through phases as a dramatic leading man of silent film, to cowboy star status in early sound Westerns and finally grabbing a new generation of cowboy devotees as an early television star. Boyd was one of five children, all boys. He left home at 18 and worked odd jobs requiring more brawn than brains while he attempted to break into the movies. For the broad-chested, handsome blonde persistence paid off. His first role was as an extra in Cecil B. DeMille's Why Change Your Wife (Famous Players-Lasky, 1920), starring Thomas Meighan and Gloria Swanson.
It took the great DeMille no time at all to recognize the star quality in this ruggedly handsome actor. He would elevate Boyd to strong supporting roles, and later leading man status, in such films as Manslaughter (Famous Players-Lasky, 1922), starring Thomas Meighan, Leatrice Joy and Lois Wilson; Changing Husbands (Famous Players-Lasky, 1924), starring Leatrice Joy; The Road to Yesterday (DeMille Pictures, 1925), starring Joseph Schildkraut and Jetta Goudal; The Volga Boatman (DeMille Pictures, 1926), with then-wife Elinor Fair; The King of Kings (DeMille Pictures, 1927), starring H.B. Warner; and The Yankee Clipper (DeMille Pictures, 1927), with Elinor Fair and Junior Coghlan. A frequent costar of Boyd's was Alan Hale. Some of their buddy pictures include: The Cop (DeMille Pictures, 1928), directed by Donald Crisp; Skyscraper (DeMille Pictures, 1928); and Power (Pathe Exchange, 1928). All three of these he-man comedy/melodramas were penned by Tay Garnett.
Boyd did not work strictly with mentor DeMille. He also appeared in such films as The Young Rajah (Famous Players-Lasky, 1922), starring Rudolph Valentino and Wanda Hawley; The Temple of Venus (Fox Film Corp., 1923), starring Mary Philbin; The Midshipman (M-G-M, 1925), starring Ramon Novarro, Wesley Barry and directed by William Christy Cabanne; Two Arabian Knights (Caddo Co., for United Artists, 1927), with Mary Astor, Louis Wolheim and directed by Lewis Milestone; and Lady of the Pavements (Art Cinema Corp., for United Artists, 1929), a partial talkie starring Lupe Velez and directed by D.W. Griffith.
William Boyd was a knockout in Hollywood films, but he was knocked out more than once in the marriage game. He wed five times: Laura Maynard (1917 - 1921); Ruth Yeager Miller (1921 - 192?) [many sources erroneously site Patsy Ruth Miller as his second wife - he was never married to Patsy Ruth]; Elinor Fair (1926 to 1929); Dorothy Sebastian (1930 to 1937), his leading lady in Officer O'Brien (Pathe Exchange, 1930); and Grace Bradley (1937 to 1972). Grace fondly remembers that the first time she fell in love with William Boyd was years before she actually met him. She had seen his terrific performance in The Volga Boatman and knew that he was her soulmate. During their marriage, this very devoted couple were only separated for two nights in 35 years. Grace was an accomplished dancer and singer. She continued to make films after marrying Boyd, but never appeared on the screen with him.
The sound era was a mixed blessing for William Boyd. He successfully made the transition to talkies, retaining his stardom. Unfortunately, he had to wrestle with others who bore the name of 'William Boyd.' In 1931, a stage actor named William Boyd, who was now working in films, was involved in a serious scandal that reeked of alcohol and gambling. To make matters worse, the initial photo printed in the paper was one of William L. Boyd! The erroneous identification dogged "our Boyd" and he attempted to put a stop to the besmirching of his name by calling himself simply "Bill" Boyd. Loyal fans of "Bill's" (and modern reference books) commonly refer to the "bad" Boyd (!) as William "Stage" Boyd. The mix-up finally abated when the stage/screen actor died. However, Bill's troubles with his given name did not completely subside. There was yet another Bill Boyd (1910 - 1977) who appeared in low budget, singing-cowboy Westerns and billed himself as "The Cowboy Rambler." This other Bill Boyd securely kept his moniker, for in 1935 William L. Boyd gained his own famous nickname. He appeared in a film that sealed his new screen identity - it was called Hop-a-long Cassidy (Harry Sherman Productions, for Paramount, 1935).
A well-kept behind the scenes secret about "Hopalong" (the hyphens were dropped after the first film) was that he was a poor horseman, at least in the beginning. However, Boyd rose to the challenge and became quite a proficient wrangler and rider, thanks to his faithful equine companion, Topper (they remained inseparable for 19 years). A big part of the characterization of Hopalong was a philosophy of clean living - no smoking, drinking or swearing. Bill, by his own admission, was quite a hellraiser up until his Hopalong Cassidy days. The success of this upstanding character influenced Boyd's private life. By this time, his blond hair turned completely turned silver, adding more distinction to his persona. He made 54 Hopalong Cassidy films from 1935 to 1943, all produced by Harry "Pop" Sherman. In 1943, Boyd took over the producer's reins and made 12 more Hopalong films. He was a very astute businessman and retained the rights to the character, as well as the films. When television dawned upon the horizon, Bill "Hopalong" Boyd was there. He made a fortune exhibiting his old films on his own television show and became even wealthier from the abundance of tie-in products, all emblazoned with the Hopalong Cassidy logo, such as lunch boxes, sleeping bags, cowboy regalia, comic books, records, etc., etc., etc.
William Boyd was a charitable man. He donated much of his profit to children's hospitals and their group residential homes. He had a big heart and felt an affinity with underprivileged kids. He was also a gracious and grateful star who knew which side his flapjack was buttered on. He said, "The way I figure it, if it weren't for the kids, I'd be a bum today. They're the ones who've made my success possible."
Boyd had a reunion with his original benefactor, Cecil B. DeMille, when he was cast as Hopalong Cassidy in The Greatest Show on Earth (Paramount, 1952). It was one of the highlights of that circus epic. Hoppy retired from active show business in 1953, after 106 Hopalong Cassidy television shows. After retiring to Palm Springs with his charming wife, he lived graciously - always glad to see a fan and sign an autograph. In 1968, he underwent a serious operation to remove a cancerous tumor from a lymph gland. The surgery devastated his spirit and sapped his vital energy. Hoppy remained in seclusion, refusing all visitors until his passing in 1972. The memories and affection for William L. Boyd, a.k.a. Hopalong Cassidy, remain strong to this day for his faithful fans. The revival of his work in the silent era is also gaining ground through new video releases. Folks, the real William Boyd has stood up and continues to stand tall.
Where the Trails Meet for Hoppy's Fans
There are many fans around the world who admire William Boyd and Hopalong Cassidy tremendously. Fortunately, Hoppy's greatest living fan (next to his beloved wife Grace) is Laura Bates, the official keeper of the Hopalong Cassidy/Bill Boyd legacy. Her fan club, Hoppy Talk, boasts a growing membership of over 500 members worldwide. She invites all loyal fans (and there are a lot of you out there) to join Hoppy Talk and receive newsletters and information of gatherings like the Annual William Boyd Festival held in his boyhood town of Cambridge, Ohio every May come rain or shine. They can be reached at:
c/o Laura Bates
6310 Friendship Drive
New Concord, Ohio 43762-9708
CLUB MEMBER CARD
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