Hopalong Cassidy, American Legend, Lives on at UW American Heritage Center

Hopalong Cassidy, American Legend, Lives on at UW American Heritage Center
William Boyd portrayed Hopalong Cassidy, idol of children everywhere. (American Heritage Center).

LARAMIE — “The highest badge of honor a person can wear is honesty. Be truthful at all times.”

Countless children in the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s were familiar with these words — the first of Hopalong Cassidy’s Creed for American Boys and Girls.

An idol to children everywhere, William Boyd, portrayed the Western hero “Hoppy,” known as the “epitome of gallantry and fair play.” As noted on his official website (www.hopalong.com/legend.htm), Hoppy “battles crime and upholds justice with his quick-draw shooting, clear thinking, fists of steel and steadfast character.” Some of Boyd’s papers have been digitized and are one of the most popular collections at the University of Wyoming American Heritage Center.

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Hopalong Cassidy was originally created in 1904 by author Clarence E. Mulford in a series of short stories and novels. Boyd first brought Hoppy to life in the 1934 film adaptation of Mulford’s story. He portrayed Hoppy in many more films, on the television series beginning in 1949, and voiced Hoppy in a radio show.

The character became enormously popular, and Boyd acquired all rights to the Hopalong character in 1948. He consolidated all Hopalong enterprises and began a highly profitable business promoting the character. Boyd donated some of his profits to children’s hospitals and homes. He married actress Grace Bradley in 1937. Boyd retired in 1953 and died in 1972.

The American Heritage Center’s William Boyd collection contains materials concerning Boyd’s portrayal of Hopalong Cassidy and his many related promotional and business ventures. It includes correspondence, legal files, financial files, newspaper clippings, promotional and publicity materials, and other business records.

The UW collection also has scripts and comics, sheet music, phonograph records and photographs of Boyd. There also are a large number of artifacts, including Hopalong Cassidy costume items, toys and other merchandise. A small amount of William Boyd’s personal files are also included.

The AHC is UW’s manuscripts repository, university archives and rare books library. It is one of the largest and most actively used non-governmental, primary-source repositories in the United States. In addition to outstanding collections that document the history of most aspects of the Rocky Mountain West, the AHC has internationally acclaimed holdings in popular entertainment (TV, radio and film), aviation and aerospace, railroads, journalism, conservation, aspects of U.S. military history, economic geology and ranching. Its award-winning website is at www.uwyo.edu/ahc/.