1 9 5 2 – 1 9 5 4 (USA)
52 x 26 minute episodes
The character of Hopalong Cassidy was created by Clarence E Mulford around the turn of the 20th century. But that was a different Hopalong to the one that kids knew and loved in the 1950s . . .
Mulford had portrayed Cassidy as a rough, mean vagabond with a bad limp – a man who drank, swore and smoked.
Actor William Boyd turned the character into a faultless hero, an idol for the children, immaculately turned out in black to contrast dramatically with his silver hair, his silver spurs, his pearl-handled revolvers and his white steed, Topper.
William Boyd had already played the role in the cinema in a series of 66 films between 1935 and 1948, and he picked up the rights to his old B-movies when no one else was interested.
He and his associate, Toby Anguish, re-edited them and repackaged them into 30 and 60-minute segments for TV when the medium was in its infancy.
The first TV Hopalong therefore, was actually the cinema version revisited. Eventually Boyd produced this new series specifically for television.
No longer troubled by the limp, he lived at the Bar 20 Ranch and was accompanied in his adventures by sidekick Red Connors (Edgar Buchanan).
Hopalong Cassidy became an instant hit with younger viewers and went on to be one of the first great merchandising successes of the small screen.
One million Hopalong trail knives were sold at 98 cents apiece in their first 10 days on the store shelves, and 4,000 bars of Hopalong soap were bought in one week. By the end of the 1950s, 108 manufacturers were producing Hoplaong Cassidy products, to the tune of $70 million a year.
William Boyd died in 1972, a multi-millionaire, still faithful to his fourth wife, whom he had married in 1937.
Long after his death, his character’s legacy was honoured by museum exhibits and a 2009 US Postal Service stamp commemorating Cassidy’s contribution to the early history of television.