William Boyd as Hopalong Cassidy
There were no moral grays in the Hoppy westerns. Evil was always depicted as evil. Lawbreakers knew perfectly well that they were doing wrong and expected to be trailed and punished if caught. Sob stories, evasions, and excuses were so unacceptable in the moral code upheld in the Hoppy westerns that villains never even offered them.
One day in 1955, my mother took a few snapshots as I stood on the white stone steps in our front yard wearing a black shirt, black pants, and cowboy boots, ready for western action with my two-gun holster. At such moments, the heroism of TV western stars like Roy Rogers and Gene Autry and the Cisco Kid and the Lone Ranger was uppermost in that 5-year-old boy’s mind. “Hoppy” was one of those heroes. I vaguely recall having a Hopalong Cassidy writing tablet or jigsaw puzzle in the early 1950s. A retired bookseller friend of mine told me how fondly she remembers watching the Hoppy westerns when she was a girl and hearing his wonderful, distinctive laugh.
William Boyd appeared as “Hopalong Cassidy” in 66 western films, all of which were filmed in black and white. He appeared in most of them dressed in dark shirt, dark trousers, dark hat, and dark boots, a stunning contrast with his silver-white hair and white horse Topper. Sixty-six motion pictures between 1935 and 1948, and not a word of profanity. Select at random any 66 motion pictures made since 1965 and tell me how many include no profanity.
The story of actor William Boyd and the Hoppy character is a fascinating one. After achieving stardom in the silent film era, Boyd became very fond of wine and women. At one point he was the victim of some undeserved bad publicity concerning a different actor with the same name. Read More »