'Gabby' Hayes (1885 - 1969)

'Gabby' Hayes
'Gabby' Hayes
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George 'Gabby' Hayes was a famous character actor in movies during the 1930's and 1940's and later on television. He made his name in Western movies playing the sidekick to stars like Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. He became extremely popular and featured consistently in lists of the ten favorite actors in polls taken of movie-goers of the period.

He was born George Francis Hayes on May 7, 1885 in Wellsville, New York, the third of seven children. In his youth he worked as a circus performer and semi-professional baseball player before moving to perform in vaudeville and burlesque with his wife, Olive Ireland whom he married in 1914. The pair became extremely successful on the vaudeville circuit and he was able to retire in his forties, but he then lost a lot of his money in the stock market crash of 1929 and was forced back to work. He moved to California at the suggestion of his wife and began to get regular work in the movie industry.

When he became a regular fixture in the series Westerns of the 1930's, it was at first as a bad guy, in films such as 'Riders of Destiny' in 1933 and 'West of the Divide' in 1934, often starring opposite the young John Wayne. From 1936 he appeared regularly as Hopalong Cassidy's sidekick Windy Halliday; 'Trail Dust' in 1936 is a typical example. By then he was already past fifty, and the whiskery, garrulous, old-timer role suited him well.

At the end of the 1930's he left the Cassidy team after a financial dispute and began appearing regularly with Roy Rogers - with the new name of 'Gabby' as he was not allowed to use the old name 'Windy'. He appears in 'The Arizona Kid' in 1939, 'Young Bill Hickock' in 1940, and dozens of others. He occasionally made an appearance with Gene Autry, such as 'Melody Ranch' in 1940, and with other Western stars such as John Wayne.

Towards the end of his career he played, as always, the grizzled old-timer in some Randolph Scott vehicles, including 'Trail Street' in 1947 and, his swan song, 'The Cariboo Trail' in 1950. From then until 1954 he had his own TV Western series, 'The Gabby Hayes Show', aimed largely at children, after which he hung up his spurs.

Off screen he was a serious, well-dressed, and sophisticated man - the polar opposite of his film persona, whose preferred utterances were 'yer durn tootin' and 'young whipper snapper.' He remained married to Olive until her death in 1956. Despite his prolific screen appearances as a cowboy, Hayes didn't learn to ride a horse until he was past the age of forty. He even professed that he had never been a big fan of the Western genre.

Gabby Hayes died of cardiovascular disease in Burbank, California, on February 9, 1969 aged 83. He was buried at the Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles.

Gabby Hayes Academy Awards

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Gabby Hayes Filmography

Rainbow Man
Smiling Irish Eyes
Big News
Playing Around
She Who Gets Slapped
For the Defense
Top Speed (uncredited)
The Slippery Pearls
God's Country and the Man
Big Business Girl (uncredited)
The Nevada Buckaroo
Oklahoma Jim
Freighters of Destiny (uncredited)
Cavalier of the West
Dragnet Patrol
Without Honor
Sally of the Subway (uncredited)
Play-Girl (uncredited)
Border Devils
Riders of the Desert
The Man from Hell's Edges
Ghost Valley (uncredited)
The Boiling Point
Winner Take All (uncredited)
Love Me Tonight (uncredited)
The Night Rider
The Doctor's Sacrifice
Broadway to Cheyenne
Hidden Valley
Texas Buddies
Wild Horse Mesa
The Fighting Champ
Self Defense
Crashin' Broadway
Speed Brent Wins
The Phantom Broadcast
Trailing North
The Return of Casey Jones
The Gallant Fool
The Sphinx (uncredited)
The Fighting Texans
The Fugitive
Galloping Romeo
Ranger's Code
The Devil's Mate
Ship of Wanted Men
Riders of Destiny
Stolen Goods
The Lucky Texan
West of the Divide
Beggars in Ermine
Mystery Liner
The Lost Jungle
House of Mystery
Bedlam of Beards
City Limits
Blue Steel
The Man from Utah
Monte Carlo Nights
Randy Rides Alone
The Lost Jungle(uncredited)
He Wore a Star
The Man from Hell
The Brand of Hate
In Old Santa Fe
The Lawless Frontier
'Neath the Arizona Skies (uncredited)
Texas Terror
Death Flies East
The Lost City
The Outlaw Tamer
Rainbow Valley
Smokey Smith
Tombstone Terror
The Hoosier Schoolmaster
The Woman in the Case
Justice of the Range
Ladies Crave Excitement
Honeymoon Limited
Hop-a-long Cassidy
The Farmer Takes a Wife (uncredited)
Welcome Home (uncredited)
Tumbling Tumbleweeds
Thunder Mountain
1,000 Dollars a Minute
The Eagle's Brood
Bar 20 Rides Again
Eventful Journey
Valley of the Lawless
Silver Spurs
The Lawless Nineties
Heart of the West
Call of the Prairie
Song of the Trail
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (uncredited)
Three on the Trail
I Married a Doctor (uncredited)
Hearts in Bondage
The Texas Rangers
Valiant Is the Word for Carrie
Hopalong Cassidy Returns
The Plainsman
Trail Dust
Hills of Old Wyoming
Mountain Music
North of the Rio Grande
Rustlers' Valley
Hopalong Rides Again
Texas Trail
Gold Is Where You Find It
Heart of Arizona
Bar 20 Justice
Pride of the West
In Old Mexico
The Frontiersmen
Fighting Thoroughbreds
Sunset Trail
Let Freedom Ring
Southward Ho
Silver on the Sage
Man of Conquest
In Old Caliente
Renegade Trail
Wall Street Cowboy
In Old Monterey
The Arizona Kid
Saga of Death Valley
Days of Jesse James