Some characters are both created and forgotten within a relatively short period of time, and others become immortal over time in the minds of readers. One of these that we became aware of in the early 20th century was Hopalong Cassidy. Called ‘Hoppy’ for short, he is a fictional cowboy introduced to the world by Clarence E Mulford. One of the main reasons why Cassidy is so memorable is the fact that he aged along with his readers, and they were able to take him with them on life’s journey.
At the beginning of the story Cassidy has recently been shot in the leg (hence the name, Hop-Along). In the novels the character was rude and rough, but his entire persona changed by the time he hit the big screen. In the films Cassidy is transformed into a suave, well-mannered hero. He works along with his two sidekicks and trusty horse, Topper, in order to protect citizens from unfair ranchers and other rogues. Even though the character’s personality changed, the films followed the plot of the books and were a huge success. There were over 66 made, beginning in 1935, and William Boyd played Cassidy in every single one.
Eventually, Boyd purchased the rights to the films and licensed them out to NBC to be featured as a T.V. series, in one hour slots. In 1949, they became the first western series to be shown on network television. The public’s response was tremendous, and Hop-Along Cassidy spent many more years as the country’s most loved cowboy.
The Hop-Along legacy continued, and there were other sources of entertainment which developed from the novels’ main character.
Watching a cowboy in action is never as good as being a cowboy in action; or so though the makers of Hoppyland believed. This was an amusement park fashioned from the set and scenes in the shows. William Boyd opened it to the public in 1951, and often visited in order to interact with fans. The park wasn’t as successful as had been anticipated, however, and in 1954 it had to close due to a lack of support.
- Extended Novels
The producers of the original films commissioned Louis L’Amour to write four additional Cassidy novels, which were well received by fans and contributed to the character’s longevity.
Most legends have an area dedicated to them in one or more museums. Even though it closed in 2007, the Hopalong Cassidy Museum was located 15 miles east of Wichita, Kansas and contained paraphernalia about the books and films. Another museum dedicated to Cassidy, The Hoppy Museum, can still be visited in Cambridge, Ohio.
The US Postal Service produced a series of stamps based on early television characters, including Hopalong Cassidy, helping to immortalize them.
All the episodes of both the Cassidy films and the T.V. series have been restored and remastered, and are now available for purchase on DVD, for those fans who would like to watch them all repeatedly.