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“Love and Laughter Behind the Spurs: Remembering Gabby Hayes, the Heart of Western Cinema”

George Francis Hayes, born on May 7, 1885, in Wellsville, N.Y., had a colorful career in the entertainment industry. Starting as a youth who ran away from home to join a traveling road show, he eventually became a prominent figure in Western films.

His breakthrough came in the Hopalong Cassidy series, which began production in 1935, where he played the character Windy. Later, he joined Republic Studios in 1940, adopting the name Gabby Hayes. He appeared in 45 Roy Rogers films and worked with other top Western stars, including Wild Bill Elliott in the “Red Ryder” series.

Throughout his career, Gabby played in nearly 250 films, making significant contributions to the Western genre. In 1943, he was voted one of the top ten cowboys, a recognition he held until his retirement from movies in 1950.

After a successful film career, Gabby Hayes transitioned to television, hosting his own show, “The Gabby Hayes Show,” on the NBC Network from June 1950 to 1952. Following a brief stint hosting The Howdy Doody Show in 1955, he retired in 1955 and lived quietly until his passing.

In addition to his film work with Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers, and Wild Bill Elliott, Gabby Hayes collaborated with John Wayne in films like “Tall in the Saddle,” “In Old Oklahoma,” and “Dark Command.” He also worked with Randolph Scott in movies such as “Abilene Town,” “Trail Street,” “Badman’s Territory,” and his final film, “The Caribou Trail,” in 1950.

Dale Evans, wife of Roy Rogers, spoke highly of Gabby’s off-screen persona, describing him as a cultured and well-educated man, different from his on-screen cowboy character. Gabby Hayes, the king of sidekicks, passed away on February 9, 1969, at the age of 84, leaving a lasting legacy in the world of Western entertainment.

 

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