The Other Bill Boyd

 (Thanks Tony Thurling; Bx Daybreak RC)

Born in 1895, the son of a day labourer, William Boyd’s parents died while he was in his early teens, forcing him to leave school. He went to Hollywood in 1919, already grey-haired. His first role was as an extra in Cecil B. DeMille’s Why Change Your Wife? (1920). He caught DeMille’s eye and got the romantic lead in The Volga Boatman (1926), quickly becoming a matinee idol and earning upwards of $100,000 a year. With the end of silent movies, Boyd was without a contract and going broke. In 1935 he was offered the lead role in Hop-Along Cassidy (1935) (named because of a limp caused by an earlier bullet wound). He changed the original pulp-fiction character to its opposite, made sure that “Hoppy” didn’t smoke, drink, chew tobacco or swear, rarely kissed a girl, and let the bad guy draw first. By 1943 he had made 54 “Hoppies” for his original producer, Harry Sherman; after Sherman dropped the series, Boyd produced and starred in 12 more on his own. The series was wildly popular and all at least doubled their profit. In 1948 Boyd, in a savvy and precedent-setting move, bought the rights to all his pictures–he had to sell his ranch to raise the money – just as TV was looking for Saturday-morning western fare. He marketed all sorts of products and received royalties from comic books, radio and records. He retired to Palm Desert, California, in 1953. He died in 1972

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