Monthly Archives: March 2016

Whatever happened to … Cassidy?

Whatever Happened To Randolph Scott – shown at right didn’t happen to “Hopalong…”

(… as in “Cassidy.”)

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 There was a cute young volunteer at the office the other day.  (At the local Keep America Beautiful, where I work off and on as a supervisor.)   Her name was Cassidy.

So when the Big Boss Man called her “hopalong,” I got a bit confused.

assumed that maybe – when she put her bag behind the office table –  she’d done a little hop. Or maybe she’d had a limp the day before.  But later – working at the recycle bins – it hit me.  So I asked her about the nickname and she said, “Oh yeah, that’s what a lot of old guys call me!

I then asked if she knew who “Hopalong Cassidy” was.  She didn’t, so I got out my trusty smartphone – or a reasonable facsimile – and showed her the Wikipedia article, complete with pictures.  (Including the early “rough around the edges” version, by Frank Schoonover, at right.  It’s Hopalong Takes Command, “for the 1905 story ‘Fight at Buckskin.'”)

But that little episode set in motion a whole set of trains of thought(Or more precisely, train-lines of free association.)  

Those train-lines included – but weren’t limited to – the question, “Whatever happened to the guy who played Hopalong Cassidy?”  For that matter, “Whatever happened to the guys who played other old-time cowboy heroes?”

Those queries also include – but aren’t limited to – whatever happened to Randolph Scott, Lash LaRueJohnny Mack Brown, or for that matter, Gene Autry.  For one short answer, check sites like 10 Best Old Cowboy Movies, or Famous Old Western Actors, both courtesy of the Screen Junkies website.  Or you could check 16 Best Western Movies | The Art of Manliness, for more on the ongoing appeal of those old-time cowboys.   That short answer?

Few figures in history have had as powerful an impact on American masculinity as the cowboy.  For over a century, the cowboy has — for better or for worse — been a standard of rugged individualism and stoic bravery for the American male.  While the mythologization of the American cowboy began all the way back in the 1880s … it wasn’t until the advent of twentieth century cinema that the cowboy cemented his place as an icon of manliness.

Gene Autry.JPGThen too, through the magic of hyperlinks, you can check for yourself what happened to Randolph Scott, Lash LaRueJohnny Mack Brown, or Gene Autry.  (As shown at right.)

But we were talking about “Hopalong Cassidy.”  (“Hoppy,” for short.)

Clarence E. Mulford created Hoppy in 1904.  And in the original version, he was portrayed as “rude, dangerous, and rough-talking.”

(Not uniike Bugs Bunny or Woody Woodpecker.  Bugs was originally “loud, zany with a goofy, guttural laugh” and a “hayseed voice.”  But in later versions he was shown as “cool, graceful, and controlled.”  Woody too went on to “evolve over the years, from an insane bird with an unusually garish design to a more refined looking and acting character.”)

Be that as it may, in the movie version played by William Boyd – starting in 1935 – Hopalong Cassidy too was transformed into a clean-cut hero.  (As shown in the bottom image.)

…white-haired Bill “Hopalong” Cassidy was usually clad strikingly in black (including his hat, an exception to the western film stereotype that only villains wore black hats).  He was reserved and well spoken, with a sense of fair play…  “Hoppy” and his white horse, Topper, usually traveled through the west with two companions – one young and trouble-prone with a weakness for damsels in distress, the other older, comically awkward and outspoken.

Gabby hayes.pngIncidentally, George Reeves – who later played Superman – was one of those who played the “young and trouble-prone” sidekick.  And among those who played the older man – “comically awkward and outspoken” – was Gabby Hayes.  (Seen at left, he played Hoppy’s original “grizzled sidekick, ‘Windy Halliday.'”)   But Hayes left because of a salary dispute…

Also incidentally, Hayes went on to a long career as a movie sidekick.  He made 44 movies with Roy Rogers, 15 with John Wayne – “some as straight or villainous characters” – seven with Gene Autry and six with Randolph Scott:

Hayes, in real life an intelligent, well groomed and articulate man, was cast as a grizzled codger who uttered phrases such as “consarn it,” “yer durn tootin’,” “dadgummit,” “durn persnickety female,” and “young whippersnapper.”

But once again we digress.  We were talking about William Boyd, and about Cassidy, “Hopalong” or otherwise.  Boyd was born in 1895 and died in 1972.  The Boyd link too noted that Hoppy’s character changed drastically from the book to film versions:  “from a hard-drinking, rough-living wrangler to its eventual incarnation as a cowboy hero who did not smoke, swear, or drink alcohol (his drink of choice being sarsaparilla)…”

Then too, Boyd made the then-radical transition from movies to television.  When Hollywood branded him a “washed-up cowboy star” in 1948, Boyd made a desperate gamble.  He bought the movie rights, which set the stage for his moving to the new – and untested – TV format:

Boyd’s desperate gamble paid off, making him the first national TV star and restoring his personal fortune…  [He licensed] merchandise, including such products as Hopalong Cassidy watches, trash cans, cups, dishes, Topps trading cards, a comic strip, comic books, cowboy outfits, home-movie digests of his Paramount releases via Castle Films, and a new Hopalong Cassidy radio show, which ran from 1948 to 1952.

Married five times, Boyd retired from acting in 1953.  He invested in real estate and “moved to Palm Desert, California.  He refused interviews and photographs in later years, preferring not to disillusion his millions of fans who remembered him as their screen idol.”

Which I suppose could be an object lesson for some of today’s actors and sports figures, who play past their prime.  But in closing, let’s get back to “Cassidy.”

The Partridge Family David Cassidy 1972.jpgCassidy – as a first name especially – comes from the Irish and means “clever.”  (Or “curly-haired,” from the Gaelic Caiside.)  It first appeared “among the 1,000 most-popular names for American girls in 1981,” and reached a peak of popularity in 1999.  (When it was “the 99th most popular name for American girls.”)

And Wikipedia noted that “Cassidy may have become a first name due to baby-boomer parents naming their children after ’70s teen idol David Cassidy.  (Seen at right, or perhaps “the Grateful Dead song, ‘Cassidy.'”)

So here’s a newsflash for all those coming-of-age young ladies named Cassidy.  And who were given that name by baby-boomer parents  (And – most likely – by baby-boomer mothers who had the hots – when young – for David Cassidy.)


Now you know why all those old guys call you “Hopalong…”


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The upper image is courtesy of Randolph Scott – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The caption:  “With Jack Lambert in Abilene Town, 1946.”

Also re: Randolph Scott.  Like Boyd, Scott retired – at age 64 – a  wealthy man.  Through “shrewd investments throughout his life,” he eventually accumulated “a fortune worth a reputed $100 million, with holdings in real estate, gas, oil wells, and securities.”  But neither “Randolph” nor “Scott” became associated with a teen idol, who later gave a name to a generation of baby-boomers.

Note also Cassidy (as a surname).  That common Irish surname translates to “descendent of Caiside,” a family from “County Fermanagh.  The Caisides were originally a medical family, who were hereditary physicians to the Maguires.”  The Maguires are also from County Fermanagh, but that surname is uncommon, and said to descend from “Cormac mac Airt, monarch of Ireland about the middle of the third century.”

The lower image is courtesy of The HOPALONG CASSIDY Poster Page, WILLIAM BOYD.

“The Protestant Whore,” and other posts from last March…

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I started this blog a year ago.  My first post came on March 12, 2015, with “Birdman,” the movie. That initial post explained how I signed up for the domain name, “Georgia Wasp,” while adding that there was a problem. Back then there was a web-site,, and one of its bulletins told of a crazy guy – “Alias ‘Georgia Wasp.’” The site said this guy was a “pathological liar…   married many times and has cheated on each wife with multiple partners!”  So I had to start off with “a heads up:  I’m not that guy!!!

Also in that first post, I explained how I chose “THAT ‘WASP’ NAME.”

Moving right along, on March 18 I posted Jeremiah and the Parable of the Dirty Underwear.  For the Bible version, see  Jeremiah 13:1-11.  (An “interesting read.”)  It also cited a Harry Golden essay with a similar story.  As to that I wrote, “few people would use ‘schmooze’ and ‘death’ in the same sentence, let alone the same title, but Golden did.”

The next stop – metaphorically speaking – was Pink Floyd and “rigid schooling.”  That post compared modern musicians like Pink Floyd with old-time Bible prophets like Isaiah. For example, in The Wall Pink Floyd took issue with – among other things – “an out-of-touch education system bent on producing compliant cogs in the societal wheel.”  In a similar way – according to guys like Isaac Asimov – the Bible prophets of 3,000 or more years ago were also considered the “radicals of their day.”  Isaiah for one took great issue with the kind of priesthood that was “primarily interested in the minutiae of ritual.”

Exodus: Of Gods and Kings, out on December 12 in U.S. theaters tells the story of Moses (played by Christian Bale, left) rising up against the Egyptian pharaoh Rhamses (played by Joel Edgerton, right)I posted On “Exodus: Gods and Kings” on March 28, 2015.  I noted the natural inclination to compare that 2014 movie with the 1956 DeMille film, The Ten Commandments.

That included one big difference:  In Ridley Scott‘s 2014 version – including the image at left, of Moses and “Pharaoh” – God was portrayed by “a bratty kid with an English accent.”  I also noted that “the Moses played by Christian Bale was more human, more like us today and therefore more believable.”  I ended that post with two points:

First:  To the icons that we choose to throw our cares and responsibilities on – like Moses – we followers are pretty much a pain in the neck…  Second:  Exodus: Gods and Kings is a pretty good movie and well worth seeing, if only in the interest of broadening your horizons.

And finally, I closed out the month of March 2015 with “When adultery was proof of ‘loyalty.”

Looking back – a year later – I think I may have been a bit prescient.  Harry’s essay on “when adultery was proof of loyalty” was set during the time of the Commonwealth of England.  That came after the Execution of Charles I, in 1649.  Basically a bunch of radical conservatives took over the government, shook things up, and made every Englishman’s life miserable.

Which naturally gave rise to a whole lot of quasi-religious hypocrisy:

One may easily see how desire for office or promotion led to hypocrisy.  If sour looks, upturned eyes, nasal twang, speech garnished with Old Testament texts, were means to favor, there were others who could assume them besides those naturally afflicted with such habits.

At the time I asked, “Does any of this sound familiar?”  In closing I noted one of Harry Golden’s main points in his essay, that history repeats itself in cycles.  Which led to the question:

“Which cycle are we in now??”

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Joseph N. Welch (at left) tries to figure a way to escape McCarthyism

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The upper image is courtesy of the article Nell Gwyn, included in Charles II of England. The full caption reads: “Nell Gwynn was one of the first English actresses and a mistress of King Charles II of England.”

The lower image is courtesy of McCarthyism – Wikipedia.  See also Joseph Nye Welch – shown in the lower image at left – as “head counsel for the United States Army while it was under investigation by Joseph McCarthy’s Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations for Communist activities.” See also – re: history repeating in cycles – Historic recurrence – Wikipedia.

On that OTHER “Teflon Don”

Jumbo poster 1.jpg

A poster celebrating that other “Greatest Showman on Earth” – circa 1882…

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Just a couple thoughts on the 2016 U.S. Presidential Race.

First of all, if “The Donald” – shown at right in 1988 – does manage to get elected, he may well be the first president in American history to get both impeached and convicted.

And here’s a BTW:  So far we’ve only had two presidents impeached – Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton – but neither man ended up getting actually convicted by the U.S. Senate.

(And that statement about “impeached and convicted” is judging by the GOP’s late[st] push to stop Trump.   “Which is being interpreted:”  If Trump does turn out to be as bad as many people expect – on both sides of the aisle – it seems likely that Congressional Republicans would gladly join any Democratic effort to impeach and convict him, if only to secure their own future employment…)

The other observation:  It wouldn’t surprise me a bit if Donald Trump is really trying to help Hillary get elected.  In other words, it wouldn’t surprise me a bit to learn that Master Showman Donald Trump is actually playing those far-right conservatives like a piano.

Who knows?  He may be trying to get some kind of political payback from Hillary.  Or he may have felt it more advisable to run for president as a Republican rather than a Democrat. (How would “two New York Liberals” have played out at the Democratic convention?)  Or maybe he just wants to shake things up, to “show that he can.”  But whatever his true intentions, you can be sure he’s got something up his sleeve.  (There’s “more here than meets the eye.”)

But we’re digressing.  The title of this post refers to “that otherTeflon Don.'”

The thing is, I originally planned to do a post comparing Donald Trump to P. T. Barnum – at left – known for an earlier Greatest Show on Earth.  But surprisingly, I found a number of distinct differences between the two men.  (One of them: Barnum turned out to be an effective elected official.)

But first, here’s something of an experiment.  I Googled the phrase “donald trump fraud” and got 3,120,000 results.  I Googled the phrase “donald trump hoax” and got 1,157,000 results.  On the other hand, I Googled “donald trump huckster” and got a mere 32,400 results.

The point being that somewhere along the line, my recent free association on Donald Trump ultimately led me to that other Great American Showman, P. T. Barnum.

One surprising thing I learned about Barnum:  He served 60 days in prison when he was 19 years old.  He was publishing the weekly Herald of Freedom in Danbury, Connecticut.  In the process he managed to upset “some very powerful people,” and got convicted of libel:

Traumatic though this spell in prison must have been …  Barnum found that far from damaging his career the conviction increased both his notoriety and his popularity…  He became a folk hero for some and upon his release from prison he was met by a band and a horse-drawn carriage organised by his supporters for a parade back to town.

Which might have led to Barnum being labeled “Teflon P.T.”  However, that doesn’t have the same nice ring to it as “Teflon Don.”  (And besides, Teflon hadn’t been discovered yet…)

Then too, in what might be called a similarity between the two men, Barnum (1810-1891) was known for an alleged comment, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

But that seems to be like many another American myth, to wit: “greatly exaggerated:”

“There’s a sucker born every minute” is a phrase most likely spoken by David Hannum, in criticism of both P. T. Barnum, an American showman of the mid 19th century, and his customers.   The phrase is often credited to Barnum himself.  It means “People are foolish, and will always be fools.”

Wikipedia went on to indicate that we simply don’t know who first coined the phrase.  (But it did add that in the “1930 John Dos Passos novel The 42nd Parallel, the quotation is attributed to Mark Twain.”)  On the other hand, his biographer said Barnum “was just not the type to disparage his patrons.”  For that matter, Barnum thought his audiences should get their money’s worth:

Often referred to as the “Prince of Humbugs” [as shown at right] Barnum saw nothing wrong in entertainers or vendors using hype (or “humbug,” as he termed it) in promotional material, as long as the public was getting value for money.  However, he was contemptuous of those who made money through fraudulent deceptions, especially the spiritualist mediums [of] his day…

Now, about his serving as an “effective elected official.”

First of all, Barnum started out by promoting “hoaxes and human curiosities such as the Feejee mermaid and General Tom Thumb.”  But that didn’t pan out, and after “economic reversals due to bad investments in the 1850s, and years of litigation and public humiliation, he used a lecture tour, mostly as a temperance speaker, to emerge from debt.”  (Is is possible that, “The Donald” is also just trying to work himself out of debt?)  The point is that from there:

Barnum served two terms in the Connecticut legislature in 1865 as a Republican.  [On the issue of slavery] and African-American suffrage, Barnum spoke before the legislature and said, “A human soul, ‘that God has created and Christ died for,’ is not to be trifled with. It may tenant the body of a Chinaman, a Turk, an Arab or a Hottentot – it is still an immortal spirit.”

Which no doubt surprised a number of people.

From there he was elected as Mayor of Bridgeport, CT in 1875.  He “worked to improve the water supply, bring gas lighting to streets, and enforce liquor and prostitution laws.  Barnum was instrumental in starting Bridgeport Hospital, founded in 1878, and was its first president.

Which no doubt surprised even more peope.

In another strange twist, before the Civil War Barnum produced blackface minstrel shows, but with a twist:  His “minstrel shows often used double-edged humor.”

Then too, in 1853 he promoted a “politically watered-down stage version of Harriet Beecher Stowe‘s Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

But in Barnum’s version, the play, had “a happy ending, with Tom and other slaves freed.”  And finally, another similarity:  Both men started out as Democrats.  In Barnum’s case, his “opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act which supported slavery, of 1854 led him to leave the Democratic Party.”

And so, in joining the “new anti slavery Republican Party,” Barnum had “evolved from a man of common stereotypes of the 1840s to a leader for emancipation by the Civil War.”

The question is:  In light of Donald Trump’s often-shifting political positions, will he eventually be seen as an “effective elected official,” a funhouse showman, or a Simon Legree?


Simon Legree hunting fugitive slaves in “UTC.”

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The upper image is courtesy of the Jumbo link within P. T. Barnum – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The caption:  “Jumbo and his keeper Matthew Scott (Circus poster, ca. 1882).”  For further information on Barnum, see P.T. Barnum, Human Freaks, and the American Museum, and/or P T Barnum Facts, information, pictures |

Re: To play someone like a piano.  The cited reference is actually to playing someone like a fiddle – Wiktionary, meaning to ” manipulate (a person) skillfully.” 

Re: Free association.  See also Free association (psychology) – Wikipedia.

The lower image is courtesy of Wikipedia’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”  The caption:  “Simon Legree on the cover of the comic book adaptation of Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Classic Comics No. 15, November 1943 issue).”  And a note on Barnum’s “happy ending.”  In the original version Uncle Tom died, a victim of Simon Legree.  In turn, he is portrayed as “the perfect Christian.”  That is, at the end of the novel the character George Shelby returns to his Kentucky farm and frees all his slaves.  In doing so he “tells them to remember Tom’s sacrifice and his belief in the true meaning of Christianity.”

Re: Trump’s political positions:  “On specific policy, Trump has been described as a moderate Republican.  His politics have been described as populistnativist, protectionist and authoritarian by a variety of sources.”  A few examples:  Trump has said he wants to “lower taxes for middle and working-class people, and increase taxes on wealthy private equity and hedge fund managers.”  He has supported “improving America’s infrastructure,” even though on the federal level – he has said – “this is going to be an expensive investment, no question about that.”  He started out pro-choice but now describes himself as pro-life.  He supports “states’ rights to legalize and regulate cannabis.”

One final note:  The “Simon Legree” comparison is based in large part on Trump’s emphasis on Mexico sending “its people” into the U.S., mostly “criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc.,” while “some, I assume, are good people.”   He has said that on “Day 1 of my presidency, illegal immigrants are getting out and getting out fast,” and that he would build a wall similar to the Israeli West Bank barrier.  Finally, “Trump opposes birthright citizenship based solely on birth within the United States, arguing that it should not be protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.”