George “Gabby” Hayes

I want to share a character that crisscrossed my youth when we could watch films at the Saturday matinee or later on the telly.
A fun cowboy whose gun never ran out of bullets!!.

Wikipedia & The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures 

George Francis “Gabby” Hayes (7 May 1885 – 9 February 1969) was an American actor. He began as something of a leading man and a character player, but he was best known for his numerous appearances in B-Western film series as the bewhiskered, cantankerous, but ever-loyal and brave comic sidekick of the cowboy stars Hopalong Cassidy and Roy Rogers.

With John Wayne

Hayes was born the third of seven children in his father’s hotel, the Hayes Hotel, in Stannards, New York, a hamlet just outside Wellsville, New York. (Hayes always gave Wellsville as his birthplace, but legally he was born in Stannards.) He was the son of Elizabeth Morrison and Clark Hayes. His father, in addition to operating the Hayes Hotel, was also involved in oil production. His siblings included his brothers, William W., Morrison, and Clark B., and his sisters, Nellie Elizabeth Hayes Ebeling and Harriet “Hattie” Elizabeth Hayes Allen. Morrison Hayes, a corporal in the United States Army, was killed in action on July 19, 1918, during World War I in France and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions during the war. The American Legion post in Wellsville is named after Morrison Hayes His uncle on his mother’s side was George F. Morrison, vice president of General Electric.

George Hayes grew up in Stannards and attended Stannards School. He played semi-professional baseball while in high school. He ran away from home in 1902, at 17, joined a stock company, apparently traveled for a time with a circus, and became a successful vaudevillian.

George Hayes, without his facial hair, as the villain Matt the Mute in Randy Rides Alone, 1934

Hayes married Olive E. Ireland, the daughter of a New Jersey glass finisher, on March 4, 1914. She joined him in vaudeville, performing under the name Dorothy Earle (not to be confused with film actress and writer Dorothy Earle). Hayes had become so successful that by 1928, at age 43, he was able to retire to a home on Long Island in Baldwin, New York. He lost all his savings the next year in the 1929 stock market crash. Olive persuaded her husband to try his luck in films, and the couple moved to Los Angeles. They remained together until her death on July 5, 1957. The couple had no children.

After his move to Los Angeles, according to later interviews, Hayes had a chance meeting with the producer Trem Carr (originally Tremlet C. Carr), who liked his look and gave him 30 roles over the next six years. In his early career, Hayes was cast in a variety of roles, including villains, and occasionally played two roles in a single film. He found a niche in the growing genre of Western films, many of which were series with recurring characters. Hayes did not come from a cowboy background; he did not know how to ride a horse until he was in his forties and had to learn film roles.

Hayes, in real life an intelligent, well-groomed and articulate man, was often cast as a grizzled codger who uttered phrases such as “consarn it”, “yer durn tootin'”, “dadgummit”, “durn persnickety female”, and “young whippersnapper”. From 1935 to 1939, Hayes played the part of Windy Halliday, the humorous “codger” sidekick of Hopalong Cassidy (played by William Boyd). In 1939, Hayes left that role at Paramount Pictures after a dispute over his salary and moved to Republic Pictures. Since Paramount held the rights to the name Windy Halliday, they renamed him Gabby Whitaker, in virtually the same role. As Gabby, he appeared in more than 40 films between 1939 and 1946, usually with Roy Rogers (44 times), but also with Gene Autry and Wild Bill Elliott (14), often working under the directorship of Joseph Kane (34). Hayes was also repeatedly cast as a sidekick of the Western stars Randolph Scott (six times) and John Wayne (fifteen times, some as straight or villainous characters). Hayes played Wayne’s sidekick in Raoul Walsh’s Dark Command (1940), which featured Roy Rogers in a supporting role.

The Gabby Hayes Show (1951)

Hayes became a popular performer and consistently appeared among the 10 favorite actors in polls taken of moviegoers of the period. He appeared in either one or both the Motion Picture Herald and Boxoffice Magazine lists of the Top Ten Moneymaking Western Stars for twelve straight years and a thirteenth time in 1954, four years after his last film.

Westerns declined in popularity in the late 1940s, and Hayes made his last film in the genre in 1950: The Cariboo Trail. He moved to television and hosted The Gabby Hayes Show, a Western series, from 1950 to 1954 on NBC and, in a new version in 1956, on ABC. The show was sponsored by Quaker Oats, whose products were prominently advertised during the show. Gabby would promote the puffed wheat product by saying to stand back from the screen and firing a cannon loaded with cereal at the screen as a tie in to their ad slogan: “shot from guns”. He introduced the show, often while whittling on a piece of wood, and would sometimes throw in a tall tale. Halfway through the show, he would say something else, and at the end of the show, also, but he did not appear as an active character in the stories. When the series ended, Hayes retired from show business. During this time, he made guest appearances on television, including several on Howdy Doody for his friend “Buffalo” Bob Smith. He lent his name to a comic book series, “Gabby Hayes Western” comics, published by Fawcett Publications from November 1948 until January 1957, and to a children’s summer camp in New York.

Following his wife’s death on July 5, 1957, Hayes lived in and managed a 10-unit apartment building he owned in North Hollywood, California.

Early in 1969 he entered Saint Joseph Hospital in Burbank, California, for treatment of cardiovascular disease. Hayes died there on February 9, 1969, at the age of 83. He is interred in the Forest Lawn–Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles.

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