(Courtesy of Duane Fulk)
Surrounding Hoppy and Topper are, from L-to-R, Doyle Fulk (Duane's brother), Bryan Fulk (Duane's son) and Duane Fulk at the 2001 Hoppy Fest.
On Saturday May 5, 2001 my son Bryan, my brother Doyle and I drove to Cambridge, Ohio, the birthplace of William Boyd, for the annual two day Hopalong Cassidy Festival. As usual, lots of people were dressed like cowboys with vendors and local stores offering everything cowboy from comic books, gun sets and posters to Hoppy Pizza and 'Hop Dogs'. At 10 AM, with the sun shining bright, the western parade on main street was led by the beautiful Grace Bradley, Mrs. William Boyd, waving from a classic 1935 Buick touring car. Following her was guest star Dick Jones, Jock Mahoney's partner Dick West in the RANGE RIDER TV show then star of his own show BUFFALO BILL, JR. Following was a whole posse of western star look-a-likes walking along waving, posing for photos, shaking hands and signing autographs. Some of these were Hopalong Cassidy, Lash LaRue, Roy Rogers, Gabby Hayes, Gene Autry, Annie Oakley, The Lone Ranger, Charles Starrett, John Wayne, and Wild Bill Elliott. Horses and ponies were plentiful throughout the parade either ridden by cowboys/cowgirls or pulling hay wagons filled with local members of Scout troops, saddle clubs, 4-H Members, etc.
(Courtesy of Duane Fulk)
Above, Duane with guest star Dick Jones at the 2001 event.
The parade ended at the town square where each guest told of his family, career, TV shows, movies, etc. Hopalong Cassidy edged out The Lone Ranger in the cowboy look-a-like contest. After Dick Jones spoke to the crowd, I told him how much I enjoyed both his TV shows and seeing him as a child in 'a few' movies. He said to me, "A few? You know I was in 98 movies before my TV shows?" I asked him what it was like working for Gene Autry (Flying A Productions) and he answered, "He was a very nice and knowledgeable man and . . . Mr. Autry's checks never bounced."
Dick Jones neglected to share with the crowd something about his career that I felt was important, so on the side, I told the M.C. what it was. He loved it, pulled me up the courthouse steps and handed me the mike. I informed the crowd that Dick Jones was a little more famous than he let on. Why? Simply because, at the age of eleven years old, he was the voice of Walt Disney's Pinocchio. Everyone applauded as Mr. Jones nodded his thank you's.
At noon, everyone went to the civic center for free Hopalong Cassidy movies, dealers tables, autograph sessions, food, etc. This is where I met a tall deep-voiced man of about 55 years old, wearing a white cowboy hat, cowboy boots, Levi's and a nice looking, unique Hopalong Cassidy denim jacket --- Jerry Rosenthal. He heads Sagebrush Entertainment out of Tarzana, Calif. and one of his many holdings is all of the Hopalong Cassidy films and TV shows. After about 5 minutes of 'western talk', I asked him if the Allan Lane serial DAREDEVILS OF THE WEST would ever be released? His exact reaction was to exclaim, "Oh, my God" while shaking his head and looking at me with an 'I don't believe you asked me that' glare! Finally he grinned and said, "Let me tell you about that" and invited my son, brother and self to join him for lunch. We sat at this large round table, with festival organizers, guests, Mr. and Mrs. Dick Jones, and Jerry related the whole 'lost serial' story --- which I will condense.
This serial was part of the entire Hopalong Cassidy film inventory that Jerry purchased several years ago. First thing he did was to carefully watch the entire serial. Then he was very clear as he made this next point to me: the picture portion of all 12 chapters of DAREDEVILS OF THE WEST is in pristine condition and complete. But 3 reels of soundtrack are missing. Jerry then started searching for transcripts of all the missing dialog and after much time and work it was located. He loaned the serial to Republic with the understanding that they would help get it restored. When Republic decided the serial was theirs and wouldn't give it back, Jerry hired lawyers. Then all of Republic's holdings was bought by Spelling Entertainment and a couple years later Artisian became the owners. Eventually Jerry prevailed and got his serial back. He has now loaned it to Paramount with their agreement that, if the 3 reels of missing dialog and sound effects can be restored, it will be done in a professional way. There is still legal stuff, unions, fees, etc. holding things up, but Jerry said he thought it would eventually get done. And that is straight from the horses' mouth.
Mr. Rosenthal then asked if we could keep a secret. He said he has something special to screen this afternoon and Encore Entertainment limited him to invite no more than 25 people. He asked if my son, brother and I would like to attend? I pressed a little and he said it was the world premier of a documentary on Hoppy and after today it would be shown once at the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum in June and then on the Western Channel in July.
At 3 o'clock we were let in to the auditorium to see and enjoy Hopalong Cassidy: Public Hero #1. This is a perfect 65 minute documentary/tribute and covers author Clarence Mulford, William Boyd's entire career, the Hoppy films, TV shows, product endorsements, etc. Let me share something unbelievable with you: the film shows William Boyd and Grace Bradley's wedding, their home life, Grace being interviewed or relating stories, and in one scene from a movie, little Dickie Jones, at a corral kicking and hollering, is picked up by the belt and carried off by a laughing Hopalong Cassidy. So there we are watching all these images up on the silver screen, as the real Mrs. William Boyd is sitting two rows behind us and Dick Jones a few seats to our right applauding and laughing along with everyone else at THEMSELVES up on the screen! That really was an unbelievable, unique and wonderful experience. Jerry Rosenthal had introduced the show with welcomes and acknowledgements to the guest stars then closed it with appreciative remarks and a loving heartfelt tribute to William Boyd and the way he brought Hopalong Cassidy to such glorious and memorable screen life!
Afterward in the lobby, Encore Entertainment had a small TV crew ready to tape remarks about the show from some of the audience members. I watched as Grace Bradley Boyd and Dick Jones were interviewed. And if I'm lucky, perhaps my son will even make the final cut of this intro to the Hoppy documentary on The Western Channel July 29, 2001.
A day at the Hopalong Cassidy Festival spent with family members and silver screen cowboys ... not bad!
Duane Fulk and his brother attended the Hoppy Festival on April 30 and May 1, 1999. Duane was kind enough to provide the following writeup:
The 1999 Cambridge, Ohio Hoppy festival was great fun. Downtown had lots of cowboy displays, both inside and outside stores, a live band, people and children were dressed as cowboys/cowgirls and some of the food offered was Hoppy Burgers and Hoppy Pizza.
(Courtesy of Duane Fulk)
Above, Duane with William Boyd's wife, Grace Bradley Boyd, at the 1999 Hoppy Festival.