Calling All Pardners

Most of you won’t recall the Hopalong Cassidy film series, which in 1949 became the first TV Western series. William Boyd starred as Hoppy, the Western hero known for all time as “The epitome of gallantry and fair play,” and his favorite drink was sarsparilla. First his films and then the TV show featured his white horse, Topper, as well as the legendary George “Gabby” Hayes as Windy, the wiskered, mumbling ole sidewinder—even George Reeves had a role before becoming TV’s first “man of steel.”

Boyd made over 60 Hopalong films. Hoppy got his name got after being shot in the leg, but he didn’t shoot himself there when he paid over a quarter of a million bucks to buy the rights to his old films. He also invested in TV during the early days: NBC started by editing the old movies for half-hour TV shows that took the country by storm. Boyd retained rights to all the licenses for merchandise, including dinnerware, pillows, roller skates, soap, wristwatches, jackknives, and radios, earning him millions.

As a kid, I daydreamed endlessly about being featured on the show. Like most dreams, it never came to pass. Eventually, the disappointment diminished—until this Christmas, when Seymour Chwast gave me a Hopalong Cassidy Radio (operating instructions below), with its 20 feet of Lariatenna. It’s both a joy and a curse.


3 thoughts on “Calling All Pardners

  1. Howie

    I still have my Hoppy and Topper plastic toys..with the hat! I have a photo of me in my Grandmother’s back yard in my Hoppy chaps, gloves and pistols. Yeee Ha! Thanks for the memories.

  2. Jeff Nesin

    2 favorites:
    My favorite local legend was the tale of another neighborhood kid who, watching Hoppy helpless without his six-shooter, tried to hand his cap gun to his hero and smashed the family tv.

    My favorite gift ever was Red Ryder chaps & lariat. I ran outside & practiced roping fire escapes! If I still had them I’d of course give them to you.

  3. Elwood H Smith

    Steve, you have to show us a photo of your Hoppy radio! Maggie and I were also both big fans of Hoppy. My family didn’t get TV until I was a teenager, but I saw a zillion B-Westerns when I was a kid and Hoppy was among them. Plus I read lots of Hopalong Cassidy comics. Seymour’s gift must be a bit more of a joy than a curse.