Old West Lifestyle & Stories


After almost 40 years of riding across American TV and movie screens, the cowboy actor William Boyd, best known for his role as Hopalong Cassidy, died on September 12, 1972 at the age of 77.

His greatest achievement was to be the first cowboy actor to make the transition from movies to television. After World War II Americans began buying television sets in large numbers for the first time, and soon I Love Lucy and The Honeymooners were standard evening fare for millions of families. But despite their proven popularity in movie theaters, westerns were slow to come to TV. Many network TV producers scorned westerns as lowbrow “horse operas” unfit for their middle- and upper-class audiences…As it I Love Lucy and The Honeymooners was highbrow.

During the 1930’s, William Boyd made more than 50 successful “B-Westerns” starring as Hopalong Cassidy. After the war, Boyd recognized an opportunity to take Hopalong into the new world of television, and he began to market his old “B” westerns to TV broadcasters in Los Angeles and New York City. A whole new generation of children thrilled to “Hoppy’s” daring adventures, and they soon began to ask for more.

Rethinking their initial disdain for the genre, producers at NBC contracted with Boyd in 1948 to produce a new series of half-hour westerns for television. Soon other TV westerns followed. In 1959, seven of the top-10 shows on national television were westerns. The golden era of the TV western would finally come to an end in 1975 when the long-running Gunsmoke left the air, three years after Boyd died.

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