Cowboys and Indians
Top Picture: Roy Rogers
Bottom Picture: Hopalong Cassidy
Firstly welcome to a new Manorcourtonian, Stephen Lockwood.
We are in the Odeon on a Saturday morning and we hear "Whoopee" shouted through the darkness and suddenly, there he was on the screen, our hero. White Stetson, flashing teeth, who else but Gene Autry with his faithful horse Champion. Gene is going to sing, as he always did "I'm riding, on my pony, heading for the old Bar-X".
Are we all burst out of the picture house and into the bright daylight. Cosham High Street does not have the same genre as the main street in Deadwood Springs, but nevertheless this does not stop the lads from leaping into doorways or diving behind dustbins, pointing their loaded fingers at each other and making shooting noises.
Those days are now in the distant past. Never more will we see the like of those celluloid heroes who appeared to make more films before lunchtime, than Clint Eastwood does in a year! They turned out hundreds of these sagebrush sagas, and still we never tired of them.
But who were they? Strangely enough, they all appeared to use the same formula the clean-cut quick-on-the-draw always smiling cowboy hero was generally accompanied by an old gent who greatest asset apppeared to be that he could spit tobacco juice into a bucket with deadly accuracy from 20 yards! In reply to his partners "Howdy, Old-timer", he would go into a lengthy dialogue about the Winter of '83, or how he had personally given 100 Commanches a short back and sides single handed! Another constant companion of the cowboy is, of course, his horse, and all these faithful steeds appeared to have the knack of understanding their master's whistle language, galloping onto any scene from out of the blue. Another attribute was that they were able to untie rope knots with their great teeth.
Another vital ingredient to any cowboy film is the baddie, and these villains were sure to produce boos and hisses from most audiences. It is interesting to remember that many of the great stars began their film careers by playing Western baddies. A young Clark Gable was brought to justice by Hopalong Cassidy in Painted Desert (1931) and another one was an equally young Robert Mitchum who was in several of the early epics.
Our cowboy heroes very seldom had much time for members of the other sex, and normally showered more affection on their four-legged friends. But if a western gal did happen to attract his attention, she was nearly always the local school teacher in the town, never the good-hearted tart in the Golden Nugget.
Let us have a brief reminder of some of those gun-twirling greats who swept across the prairie.
The name associated with Hopalong Cassidy is of course William Boyd, and with his premature white hair and his horse Topper he struck fear into many a baddie's heart, although one does have to stretch the imagination with the sight of him throwing hefty Robert Mitchum all over the place. Off screen he also collected wives like most we collected stamps, but on the screen he was a clean living guy, never swore, smoked, or drank, and rarely gave kisses, except to Topper of course. He was more often than not aided in his films by two human pals, Andy Clyde as the "Old Un", and Jimmy Ellison as the "Young Un". Because of the showing of his old films on television he was a hero to a new generation of youngsters, and I am sure Hopalong Cassidy will ride the range in our minds for many years to come.
Although Gene Autry was not the first singing cowboy, he is the one we remember. Because of his singing prowess, Gene was as popular on the radio as he was on the screen. His old sidekick was generally Smiley Burnette, and Gene's famous mount was Champion. In later years when he formed a television production company, "Champion the Wonder Horse" was one of his many shows. Up to the war Gene Autry was the King of the Cowboys, but in 1942 he joined the American Air Force but he paid dearly for this for when he returned from the war a new "King" was on the cowboy throne; Roy Rogers. Roy Rogers, like Gene Autry, was liable to burst into song at a moments notice. His old-timer pal was George "Gabby" Hayes, the be-whiskered rascal who died in 1969 at the age of 84.
Apart from his nine children the two great loves in Roy Rogers's life were his wife Dale Evans and his horse Trigger. Such were his feelings, that when Trigger eventually died Roy had him stuffed and had him mounted in the corner of his living room. Just one little thought; It is lucck therefore that Roy died three years before Dale!!!
It was great if you were one of the cowboy stars, but not everybody could be a headliner but some of those who played supporting parts were just as essential. Where would the 'Cisco Kid" played by Duncan Renaldo have been without Pancho, played by Leo Carrillo,.where would the Lone Ranger have been without Tonto; by the way Jay Silverheels.
One we have not mentioned is Gary Cooper who was one of the few who could roll a cigarette with one hand while riding a horse. The film cowboy story cannot be completed without mention of John Wayne; he was big in every sense of the word. Born in 1907 and named Marion Michael Morrison he became a legend in his lifetime. Although he had to wait until 1969, 10 years before his death, to get an Academy Award for True Grit.
All the cowboy heroes have now left this world to join that Great Ranch up in the Sky but it does set me wondering, if there is a special corral up there for the likes of Champion, Topper and Trigger.
Ah well, its time for me to mosey along pardners. As Pancho would have said; "Adios Amigos, see you soon, Ha".
Take Care and keep in touch
Interesting to note that you work on Whale Island. When I was a young erk I was in the naval cadets at H.M.S. Excellent & went twice a week of an evening. No 19 corporation bus from Cosham trolley bus terminus to Twyford Avenue & what seemed like a mile walk the full length of Stanley Road. Show your pass to the guard at the barrier & you were in. I was exposed to some great experiences there. Rifle shooting, archery, all manner of sport, both sailing & rowing one of the many whalers kept there & I was in the establishments junior field gun crew. I was on the barrel with Peter King ( he subsequently married Suzanne Hamilton) & I bumped into them both at an athletics meeting some years ago. It was all a great introduction to a disciplined service & paved the way to even more ‘fun & games’ in the A.T.C.
News and Views:
Malcolm Vaughan, singer who fell foul of the BBC but sold half a million records as a result has died aged 81. In October 1956, Malcolm Vaughan was due to appear on BBC TV's Off The Record to promote his new release, "St. Therese Of The Roses". The invitation was withdrawn a few days later after a BBC committee had determined that the record was unsuitable for broadcast because "the lyric is contrary both to Roman Catholic doctrine and to Protestant sentiment." The resulting controversy helped to sell records, and with airplay on Radio Luxembourg the song climbed to No 3, stayed on the charts for five months and sold half a million copies. Early in his career Malcolm Vaughan appeared, using his real name Malcolm Thomas, as the voice of Dennis the Dachshund in a television production of Larry The Lamb.
On this day 13th March 1960-1965
On 13/03/1960 the number one single was Why - Anthony Newley and the number one album was The Explosive Freddy Cannon - Freddy Cannon. The top rated TV show was The Larkins (ATV) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Burnley were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 13/03/1961 the number one single was Walk Right Back/Ebony Eyes - Everly Brothers and the number one album was Tottenham Hotspur. The top rated TV show was Bootsie & Snudge (Granada) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25.The big news story of the day was The Dickie Henderson Show (AR).
On 13/03/1962 the number one single was Rock-a-Hula Baby/Can't Help Falling In Love - Elvis Presley and the number one album was Blue Hawaii - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 13/03/1963 the number one single was The Wayward Wind - Frank Ifield and the number one album was Summer Holiday - Cliff Richard & the Shadows. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
13/03/1964 the number one single was Anyone Who Had a Heart -Cilla Black and the number one album was With the Beatles - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 13/03/1965 the number one single was It's Not Unusual - Tom Jones and the number one album was Rolling Stones Number 2 - The Rolling Stones. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.