Sunday, March 22, 2020

The Late, Great Gabby Hayes

By Timothy England

Gabby Hayes, born George Francis Hayes, was a well loved and admired American actor, best known for his role as sidekick to Hopalong Cassidy and Roy Rogers during the 1930's and 1940's. Gabby, born on May 7, 1885, was the third of seven children, raised by his father, Clark Hayes, in Stannards, New York, a small hamlet located on the outskirts of Wellsville, New York. His father owned the Hayes Hotel.

As a young man, Gabby worked in a circus and as a teen he played semi-pro baseball. However, in 1902, he ran away from home at the age of 17. It was then that he joined a touring stock company and in 1914, he married Olive Ireland, the daughter of a glass finisher from New Jersey. Together they became successful in Vaudeville. Ireland playing the part of Dorothy Earle.

Hills of Old Wyoming (1937) w/Hopalong Cassidy

Because of Gabby's success, he purchased a home on Long Island in Baldwin, NY. Armed with a small fortune, in 1928, he retired at the age of 43. The following year, however, because of the 1929 stock market crash, Gabby lost his fortune, forcing him to return to the art of acting.

Olive convinced Gabby to pull up stake and move to Los Angeles, California, where he found gainful and steady employment in films. It was here that he met producer Trem (Tremlet C.) Carr, resulting in his playing lots of roles in Westerns as well as other kinds of movies—30, in fact, over a six-year period. And finally, in the mid-1930s, he settled into what became an almost exclusive career in the Western venue.

Young Bill Hickok (1940) w/Roy Rogers

Olive and Gabby remained married until her death in July of 1957. However, neither Gabby or his wife Olive knew the joy of having children.

Gabby enjoyed fame and fortune from his association with Hopalong Cassidy.

“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, in 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 (7) and Wild Bill Elliott (14), often working under the directorship of Joseph Kane (34)“ (Wikipedia,

South of Santa Fe (1942) w/Roy Rogers

As a sidekick, he was one of only a select few to be placed on the list of “Top Ten Western Boxoffice Stars,” which he did repeatedly. In the early days of Gabby's career, he went back and forth from a comic-relief sidekick with whiskers to that of a clean-shaven bad guy. By the late 1930s, however, he worked almost exclusively as a Western sidekick with movie stars such as Roy Rogers, John Wayne, and Randolph Scott.

After his last film in 1950, he starred as the host of a network television show devoted to stories of the Old West for children: “The Gabby Hayes Show." For the remainder of his life, Gabby had a 10-unit apartment building located in North Hollywood, California, that he lived in and managed. He also focused on his investments. In February, 1969, he was admitted to Saint Joseph Hospital in Burbank where he was being treated for cardiovascular problems when he passed away. He was laid to rest in Forest Lawn—Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.

About the Author
On the family farm just outside Nashville, Timothy England grew up surrounded by the beautiful Tennessee hillside where his imagination loved to roam.

His lifelong love of westerns has culminated in his debut novel, Track Down, the first installment in his series centering around US Marshall Jake Boone. To date, Timothy, under the pseudonym Jess Bryan, has written four books, all of them available from Amazon.

Timothy is the author of Track Down, a Western thriller. As United States Marshall, Jake Boone, is hot on the trail of the dangerous Stanton, circumstance pushes his skills and his wits to the limits. Will he be able to live up to his own legend and keep things safe? Or has 'Killer Jake' met his match finally? For more information on this and three other books written by Timothy English, go to:

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