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William Boyd Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (5) | Trivia (13) | Personal Quotes (2) | Salary (3)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 5 June 1895Hendrysburg, Ohio, USA
Date of Death 12 September 1972Laguna Beach, California, USA  (Parkinson's disease, heart failure)
Height 6' (1.83 m)

Mini Bio (1)

The son of a day laborer, William Boyd moved with his family to Tulsa, Oklahoma, when he was seven. His parents died while he was in his early teens, forcing him to quit school and take such jobs as a grocery clerk, surveyor and oil field worker. He went to Hollywood in 1919, already gray-haired. His first role was as an extra in Cecil B. DeMille's Why Change Your Wife? (1920). He bought some fancy clothes, caught DeMille's eye and got the romantic lead in The Volga Boatman (1926), quickly becoming a matinée idol and earning upwards of $100,000 a year. However, with the end of silent movies, Boyd was without a contract, couldn't find work and was going broke. By mistake his picture was run in a newspaper story about the arrest of another actor with a similar name (William 'Stage' Boyd) on gambling, liquor and morals charges, and that hurt his career even more. In 1935 he was offered the lead role in Hop-a-long Cassidy (1935) (named because of a limp caused by an earlier bullet wound). He changed the original pulp-fiction character to its opposite, made sure that "Hoppy" didn't smoke, drink, chew tobacco or swear, rarely kissed agirl and let the bad guy draw first. By 1943 he had made 54 "Hoppies" for his original producer, Harry Sherman; after Sherman dropped the series, Boyd produced and starred in 12 more on his own. The series was wildly popular and all at least doubled their profit. In 1948 Boyd, in a savvy and precedent-setting move, bought the rights to all his pictures, he had to sell his ranch to raise the money, just as TV was looking for Saturday-morning Western fare. He marketed all sorts of "Hoppy" products, lunch boxes, toy guns, cowboy hats, etc., and received royalties from comic books, radio and records. He retired to Palm Desert, California, in 1953. In 1968 he had surgery to remove a tumor from a lymph gland and, from then on, refused all interview and photograph requests.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Spouse (5)

Grace Bradley (5 June 1937 - 12 September 1972) (his death)
Dorothy Sebastian (19 December 1930 - 30 May 1936) (divorced)
Elinor Fair (13 January 1926 - 16 November 1929) (divorced) (1 child)
Ruth Miller (1921 - 1924) (divorced)
Laura Maynard (1917 - 1921) (divorced)

Trivia (13)

Boyd was Cecil B. DeMille's first choice for Moses in The Ten Commandments (1956). Boyd turned the role down, fearing the Hopalong Cassidy identification would hurt the movie.
In an early movie, Hoppy kissed Evelyn Brent on the forehead as she was dying. His fans saw this as unmanly, so all future romance was left to his partners, and there was a different leading lady in each picture.
Hopalong Cassidy's beautiful white horse was named "Topper".
Interred at Forest Lawn, Glendale, California, USA, in the Great Mausoleum, Sanctuary of Sacred Promise.
After buying the rights to all of his films, he secured the rights to the name "Hopalong Cassidy" and formed a company called "Hopalong Cassidy Productions".
Star of the syndicated radio show "Hopalong Cassidy" (1950-1952). The shows were actually recorded between 1948 and 1950.
Inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 1995.
Television talk-show host Johnny Carson told a story of how, in the mid-1960s, he met Boyd on a plane while flying cross-country. He asked Boyd, who hadn't made any public appearances in many years, if he would like to come on Carson's show, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962). Boyd politely declined, and when Carson asked why, Boyd replied that he thought it would be too much of a jolt for kids--even though they were now adults--who had grown up seeing Hoppy as a tall, strong young cowboy hero to see him as the old man that Boyd now was.
The "Hoppies" launched the formula "Trio Western." Boyd was 40 years old when the series started. He got a younger partner to play the romantic leads James Ellison the only singing cowboy in the series, Russell Hayden, Brad King, Jay Kirby, Jimmy Rogers,George Reeves(only in "Bar 20") and Rand Brooks) and a second, usually older, partner for comic relief George Hayes known as "Gabby" playing Windy Holiday, (Britt Wood, Andy Clyde as California Carlson) and Edgar Buchanan as Red Connnors (as a duo with "Hoppy" in TV series).
There is a Hopalong Cassidy Museum located in Cambridge, Ohio.
His career was derailed in the early 1930s when he was mistakenly identified as having been arrested for public drunkenness after his picture was mistakenly used in articles about the arrest. In fact, the culprit was William 'Stage' Boyd, an actor who later portrayed the villain in the serial The Lost City (1935).
His only child, a son by second wife Ruth Miller, died in infancy.
Appears as Hopalong Cassidy, with Topper the Horse, on a 44¢ USA commemorative postage stamp in the Early TV Memories issue honoring Hopalong Cassidy (1952), issued 11 August 2009.

Personal Quotes (2)

[on his fondness for his many fans] Sometimes I can feel hands all over me when I get home. But they do it because they're Hoppy's friends.
I've tried to make Hoppy a plain and simple man in manners and dress. Hoppy isn't a flashy character. He isn't illiterate. Nor is he smart-alecky. He doesn't use big words or bad words. After all, I felt that Hoppy might be looked up to and that children might try to pattern their lives after the man. If Hoppy said 'ain't' and 'reckon' and that-away', all the kids might start saying the same things.

Salary (3)

The Leatherneck (1929) $2,500 /week
The Painted Desert (1931) $2,500 /week
Hop-a-long Cassidy (1935) $5,000

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