Hopalong Cassidy was a character in western novels written by Clarence Mulford during the 1920s, the 1930s, and the 1940s. Due to the books' popularity, Paramount Studios eventually made thirty-four films based on the character. United Artists then assumed production of the Hopalong Cassidy films, completing an additional thirty-one films. Beginning in 1950, several of the films were shortened for television. Eventually an additional fifty-two half hour programs were created to continue the television program's run.
Actor William "Bill" Boyd played Hopalong Cassidy in both the films and in all of the television episodes. Born in Ohio in 1895, Boyd began making silent films in the 1920s for Cecil B. DeMille. Illustrating Hopalong Cassidy's popularity, at the television show's height, Boyd received more than fifteen thousand fan letters per week. He made three world tours to promote the Hopalong Cassidy program and movies. On one occasion, more than one million people came to see him at a public appearance.
Hopalong Cassidy was a true hero for many children during the first half of the twentieth century. Time Magazine declared, "Boyd made Hoppy a veritable Galahad of the range, a soft spoken paragon who did not smoke, drink or kiss girls, who tried to capture the rustlers instead of shooting them, and who always let the villain draw first if gunplay was inevitable." Boyd wanted children to respect Cassidy. He hoped that children would learn good morals from the Cassidy television programs and movies. How effective Boyd was in fulfilling this dream is debatable. Nevertheless, he helped create one of the most popular television and movie characters in history. Boyd died in 1972.