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The Gunbelt

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above, Boyd in a 1935-36 publicity still.  Note the holster drops which allowed Hoppy's striped pants to show through for a nice effect.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

The drops were weak and got distorted and floppy.  Boyd had carved leather patches sewed behind the drops as shown above.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above, Boyd is duking it out with John Merton in a crop from a lobby card from MYSTERY MAN (UA, 1944).

A. J. Siarkowski provides some details on the Hoppy holster and gunbelt

I've been a Hoppy collector for many years and a Hoppy Fan since childhood. I have several Hoppy costumes and wear them at the Hopalong Festival in Cambridge, Ohio and at our Cowboy Shoots. I am a life member of SASS and my registered alias is 'Bill Cassidy', Hopalong's real name. On the left is a photo of me with Joe Sullivan in our Hoppy outfits at the Hoppy Festival. Joe's on the left in the black 1939 style outfit, and I'm on the right in the 1937 type with dark blue shirt and smaller hat.

I have studied all the photos I can get of Hoppy's rig and used those, plus information from Bob Brown and Jim Lockwood, to design and make my own copy of Hoppy's early rig. All the photos that I have seen seem to be of the Hamley rig that still exists and is in the University of Wyoming collection. I believe that Boyd wore that rig for many years with modifications over the years. As a leather hobbiest, I find many things atypical about the way the Hoppy rig was made but won't get that technical at the moment.

To begin with, it was reported in a Western book that Boyd's rig was made by Bohlin, Not So! His buckles were by Bohlin, as were some of his saddles, but not his holsters. The rig that currently exists is by Hamley. The white lace, like the white cartridge loops, were very hard to keep clean so in the later years, the lace became black and only the loops remained white, or more like gray.

In the first movie, Boyd wore an ill fitting, off-the-rack gun rig with unengraved, nickle plated, staglike gripped pistols. By the second movie, THE EAGLE'S BROOD, he was wearing his signature style rig. Anyone who has seen this style would instantly recognize it again. He also had his silver plated, engraved, ivory handled pistols.

THE BELT: Hoppy's 3" belt was cut straight, not curved as was later practice. Originally the 1" billet (or tongue) was overly long and went past the end of the main belt. When buckled, it went almost all the way over to the first cartridge loop. It was this way from 1935 until it was shortened in 1936, as seen in TRAIL DUST, so that the silver tip came even with the end of the wide belt. This would cause trouble years later because even though Boyd remained reasonably trim, by the 1950s he was thicker and the silver tip would not even pass through the silver keeper. A very distinctive touch on this belt is a single round silver spot just in front of and below the right cartridge loops. The loops of white calf were laced through slots and were not sewn as was more commonly done. The main belt was edged with 3/16" white lace.

THE HOLSTERS: Originally the throats of the holsters had a very severe recurve, going above the recoil shield of the pistol, dropping down below the trigger guard, and then going up again to above the trigger guard at the back. Along the top edge were 12 round silver spots. The area behind the trigger guard caused problems. The guard was supposed to go inside this area but after a few years, the guns had a tendency to ride outside the rear area causing the trigger guard to rub on the silver spots. This was cured by cutting off this area and also cutting down the front area to a more fastdraw style exposing the recoil shield. The spots from the cut off areas were reset in the remaining leather. Since the spots below the trigger guard were not moved, the spacing became uneven. This modification is visable in HIDDEN GOLD (1940). The loop that went across the holster was surrounded by round spots in addition to a silver heart in the middle and 4 silver stars in the corners. The holster edge was white laced like the belt.

THE DROPS: Unlike the drop slots in most B-western holster sets which were part of the main belt, Hoppy's were separate and were sewed behind the main belt so that the white lace of the belt would continue across. The drops with the undulating contour on the outside edges and an open window in the center were the most dramatic part of the outfit. Dramatic, but not very practical. The opening allowed Hoppy's striped pants to show through for a nice effect. The problem is that the drops were weak and got distorted and floppy. Boyd did not like this and had carved leather patches sewed behind the drops to close the hole as seen later in 1940 in 3 MEN FROM TEXAS. The drops had white lace on the front and back edges, and each had a round spot near the top and a smaller heart placed lower below the round spot.

TIE DOWNS: In the beginning the holsters had conventional tiedowns that needed to be tied. In PARTNERS OF THE PLAINS (1938), we see that the tiedowns now had a ring and hook affair that fastened near the skirt for easy on, easy off. When the drops were stiffened with the patches, the tiedowns were removed.

I have made a copy of Boyd's early rig and it has all the same problems of the original. I plan to make a later version with cutdown holsters and patch in the drop. However, I've had a great deal of trouble finding a clear shot of the patch to work out the carving pattern.

A.J. Siarkowski
August, 2001

William Boyd's gunbelt, saddle, costume, Hoppy related paperwork, et al were donated to the University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center, Laramie, Wyoming, and more info is available at:

Jim Lockwood's Legends In Leather website has photos and descriptions of several of his gunbelt and holster designs that are based on those worn by Clayton Moore as the Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, William 'Hoppy' Boyd, Gene Autry, Charles 'Durango Kid' Starrett, and more.  Click on the thumbnail photo of the 'Bar 20' holster set.  Go to:

(Courtesy of Minard Coons)
Hoppy #62

(Courtesy of Minard Coons)
Hoppy #74

(Courtesy of Minard Coons)
Hoppy #93
The Hoppy Comics

Lansing Sexton provides the following info on the lengthy run of comics associated with Hoppy and William Boyd:

In late 1942 (dated December but comics then as now frequently came out a month or two before their cover dates), Fawcett added Hopalong Cassidy to the cast of their popular title Master Comics starring Captain Marvel, Jr. Hoppy began in issue 33 and continued through issue 49 dated April, 1944.

In January 1943, Fawcett published the first Hopalong Cassidy comic.  The second issue didn't appear until mid-1946! It then continued uninterrupted until #85 in late 1953.  At that point Fawcett left the comic business, but Hoppy was popular enough to be picked up by National Periodical Publications (commonly known as DC Comics) the most important comics company of the time, starting with issue #86 in early 1954 and continuing through issue #135 in 1959.  Along the way there were also smaller 'giveaway' comics, one each for White Tower (1946) and Grape Nuts Flakes (1950), as well as three for the Bond Bread Company (all 1951).

Issue numbers 5, 8, 11, 13-19, all illustrated in the Gerber's Photo-Journal Guide to Comic Books, have photo covers.  I'm not sure about the covers on issues 26-29 (the other '20s' have painted covers), however Bob Overstreet's Comic Book Price Guide says that issues 35, 36, and 42-108 all have photo covers.  Oddly, a few issues repeat photos from earlier issues, sometimes reversing them.

Hoppy also appeared in Fawcett's Real Western Hero issues 70 through 75 (late 1948 and early '49) along with Tom Mix, Monte Hale and others.  With issue #76 the title was changed to Western Hero.  Hoppy continued in this title until issue #86.  In issue #87 (early 1950), Hoppy was replaced.  Who could replace the great Cassidy?  Why, none other than Bill Boyd.  Bill appeared in 9 issues ending with issue #95.  The 6 Real Western Hero issues all have painted covers of Hoppy, in all cases wearing a red shirt! In the Western Hero issues, small black & white head shots of the heroes appear under the title, but the painted covers continue until #84 which has a photo cover of Hoppy sitting on a fence next to Topper.  They appear again in a nice photo on #86.  Hoppy's alter ego Bill Boyd appears in a photo cover on issue #89 wearing what became his signature yellow (!) shirt and flat-crowned white hat.

Hoppy also appeared in Fawcett's Six-Gun Heroes beginning with issue #1, dated March, 1950.  The first three issues have Hoppy photo covers.  When Fawcett closed their comics division at the end of 1953, Charlton comics continued this series which featured Lash LaRue, Rocky Lane and others.  I'm not sure how many issues of this Charlton version Hoppy appeared in.  The Fawcett issues and the first Charlton issue (#24) have black & white head shots of the heroes at the bottom of each issue.  In spite of Hoppy's commitment to Fawcett, he appeared in issue #7 of Rural Home Publications/Patches Publications' Patches dated April 1947. This appears to have been a younger kid's comic with an emphasis on humor. Hoppy is featured in a drawn cover which, true to form, emphasizes comedy rather than action.

As far as I can tell, that completes Hopalong Cassidy's comic book career, but his doppelganger Bill Boyd had a 23 issue run in Bill Boyd Western from Fawcett (1950-1952).  All 23 issues have photo front covers of Bill, usually in yellow shirt, white hat and tan pants.  Some covers also feature his black horse Midnite.  The first three issues also have photo back covers.  My favorite cover in this series is #2, the lone painted cover, showing Bill with two guns blazing, painted in the style of the old western pulp magazines.  Fawcett's Cowboy Love #5 (November 1949) has a photo back cover of Bill Boyd, but the contents have nothing to do with him.

All in all, an extremely distinguished comics career.  Bob Overstreet's Comic Book Price Guide lists Hopalong Cassidy #1 as the second most valuable of all western comics (the most valuable western comic is Gene Autry #1).

Hoppy Merchandising

(From Old Corral image collection)
During the Summer of 2011, a bunch of us homeowners in our neighborhood decided to have a block garage sale. In the weeks prior to that event, ye Old Corral webmaster went through tons of stuff, including a couple boxes of memories from my childhood. There was a Davy Crockett at the Alamo set, several cap guns, a few lawman badges, a bunch of View-Master reels featuring Hoppy, Roy, Dale, Gene and more ... and the Hopalong Cassidy wallet shown on the left.

(From Old Corral image collection)

Joseph J. Caro authored of the definitive book on Hoppy merchandise.  This link will take you to the website with info on his Hoppy merchandise book:

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