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William Boyd 1895-1972

Country : Hendrysburg, OH
Profession : Actor
Date of birth : 1895-06-05
Date of death : 1972-09-12
Cause of Death : Heart Failure

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William Boyd (June 5, 1895–September 12, 1972) was an American actor.


Born William Lawrence Boyd in Hendrysburg, Ohio, located 26 miles east of Cambridge, Ohio, he was raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In 1918 he went to Hollywood, where he became famous as a leading man in silent film romances with a yearly salary of $100,000. By the end of the 1920s, Boyd's career had begun to deteriorate, and he was without a contract and going broke. Then Boyd's picture was mistakenly run in a newspaper story about the arrest of another actor with a similar name (William "Stage" Boyd) on gambling and liquor charges, which further hurt his career.

Hopalong Cassidy

In 1935, he was offered the lead role in the movie Hop-Along Cassidy. He changed the original pulp-fiction character, written by Clarence E. Mulford, from a whisky-guzzling wrangler to a cowboy hero who did not smoke, drink, or swear and who always let the bad guy start the fight. Boyd would be indelibly associated with the Hopalong Cassidy character, and he gained lasting fame in the Western film genre because of it. Boyd purchased the rights to the character of Hopalong as well as the rights to the 66 Hopalong Cassidy movies. In the early 1950s, he released the movies to television, where they became extremely popular. Hopalong Cassidy is, in fact, credited with helping reinvigorate the time-worn Western genre. Along with other cowboy figures, such as Roy Rogers and Gene Autry, Boyd licensed merchandise, including such products as Hopalong Cassidy watches, cups and dishes, comic books and cowboy outfits. Boyd used his fame and his fortune to meet with children around the world, and underscore for them the fine qualities of the Hopalong Cassidy figure he portrayed. As a private individual and an actor, he was a hero to a generation of American children. The Hopalong Cassidy films remain available for broadcast and are on DVD in restored form.

Boyd appeared as Hopalong Cassidy on the cover of numerous national magazines, such as the August 29, 1950, issue of Look and the November 27, 1950 issue of Time.

Oddly, both Clark Gable and Robert Mitchum experienced their first big breaks in movies playing bearded villains in westerns starring Boyd.

William Boyd died in 1972 in Laguna Beach, California, and was buried in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California. He is survived by his wife, actress Grace Bradley Boyd.

For his contribution to the motion picture industry, William Boyd has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1734 Vine Street. In 1995, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Since 1991, the Friends of Hoppy Fan Club has held the Hopalong Cassidy Festival in Cambridge, Ohio, near Boyd's home town.

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