The first significant Western to appear on network television was The Hopalong Cassidy Show, which began in 1949. It starred movie-cowboy legend William Boyd as Hopalong, a character he had played in sixty-six movies between 1935 and 1948. In the Hopalong Cassidy Show on television, Hoppy was still owner of the Bar 20 Ranch and had a sidekick, Red Connors, who was the perfect foil for Cassidy, who, unlike most cowboys heroes, dressed all in black and, with snow-white hair, cut quite a fugure atop his horse Topper.
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Season 1 Ep.21: Black Waters
An Indian agent asks Hoppy to help persuade an Indian chief to reveal the location where crude oil can be found on the land’s surface. The country will be opened to settlement and unless the tribe agrees to contract with oil companies before homestead claims can be filed, an outsider might grab the land and prevent the Indians from earning income from the oil wells.
William Boyd’s Hopalong Cassidy – a do-gooder cowboy, with a characteristic tall black hat – bears the distinction of being one of the only western heroes of his ilk to make smooth segue from silent films to talkies to television, and he was also one of the first actors to take advantage of his character’s popularity with a huge merchandising push. The TV episodes – which ran from 1949 through 1951 on NBC – essentially followed the same formula as the big screen pictures, and also featured Cassidy’s horse, Topper, and his sidekick, Red Connors (Edgar Buchanan). Hoppie’s old movies had proved very popular TV fare from 1945 on. This series followed the same plot format: black-clad, grey-haired Hopalong and his horse Topper catching badguys with Red Connors for comic relief.
Cast and Crew:
Director: George Archainbaud
Writer: Clarence E. Mulford
William Boyd, Topper the Horse and Edgar Buchanan
Original Air Date: 1949
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