Ken O'Rourke remembers William Boyd
The personal appearance by William Boyd at the Gertz Department store in Jamaica, Long Island, New York was 1949 (the weather was still warm) and my followups started shortly after. We did a brief show at a hospital in NY, and I carried on without Hoppy during 1950 and 1951. There were many other photos of Hoppy and I, but the one above is the only one I had left because my wife framed it. Because of Bill, I became a "hot item". That's how I was called for the Bobby Benson TV show, an appearance on the Ted Steele TV show and a radio show with Morey Amsterdam (Morey was the most brilliant wit I ever met.) Nick Kenny, a columnist for the New York Mirror, and his brother Charley, had me on a whirlwind of shows and benefits. I was so dazzled by it all, I didn't know which end was up. All because of Hoppy.
The crowd of 40,000 at the Gertz store took lots of Police to keep the kids (AND THEIR PARENTS) orderly. They thought I was Russell Hayden who played Lucky Jenkins in Bill's pictures. I told them who I was, and most of them said, "Oh! That's your real name! "
Bill and I had many, but not long, conversations in between all the activities. He was a regular guy, and spoke to me as an equal. He never talked DOWN to anyone. He genuinely loved the kids, and was as thrilled by it all as I was. He had a fascinating voice and personality. I could hardly believe I was holding regular conversations with my childhood idol of the 1930s. We talked of James Ellison (his first sidekick) and he said, "Jimmy should be a star in his own right because he was loaded with acting talent". He told many jokes and said he liked to sing too! He confided that he didn't really want to play Hoppy in the beginning, but he was glad he changed his mind.
Bill was everything he was on screen and even more so in person. He had the most enjoyable chuckle and laugh. He was no Hollywood phony, but a genuine human being. He never called me Boy or Young fellow --- he always called me Ken from our introduction, and never once had to ask, "What's your name again?" I admired Bill so much, I cried when I heard he died! Bill and Hoppy were ONE! He
didn't play Hoppy, he was Hoppy!