1:50 pm . It’s hot in Los Angeles .
I’ve been listening to old radio shows : Gunsmoke , Marlowe , Hopalong Cassidy , The Lone Ranger , and Dragnet . Dragnet always starts with the time and the general weather in Los Angeles . It’s the true story of the Los Angeles Police Department in action . That’s what the narrator , Jack Webb , tells us . Jack Webb created the series , taken from the actual files , he says ; he stars in the radio series and the TV series which came around later on . Just the facts , ma’m .
The star of the Gunsmoke radio series was William Conrad . He had a deep voice and sounded like the Dodge City Marshal Matt Dillon . The radio show ran from 1952 until 1961 . At some point it jumped over to television , as did several former radio shows , but William Conrad didn’t jump with it as , for example , William Boyd did as Hoppy from radio to TV . The story that I’ve always heard about that is that Conrad was short and stocky and so didn’t fit the Marshall Dillon stereotype . Well, William Boyd , by the way , had also appeared in several Hopalong Cassidy films starting in 1935 . I remember William Conrad playing a heavy in 1950s gangster flicks .
The Hopalong Cassidy character was taken from a book written in 1904 by Clarence E. Mulford . Mulford wrote a series of short stories and novels about the guy . In his earlier writings Hoppy was a rough , nasty character , not so much the children’s hero of the TV series . Cassidy was shot in the leg in Mulford’s novel , and thereafter walked with a limp , or hop —- thus, the nickname .
A couple of weeks ago somehow Hopalong Cassidy got mentioned at the weekly pool game . One of the guys challenged the rest of us : What was the name of Hoppy’s horse ? (So now you know the sort of things old guys talk about as they play pool . ) I guess you’d have to be of a certain age to even have a chance at coming up with the answer . Hoppy’s horse was named Topper .
The western writer Louis L’amore was hired to write some further Hopalong cassidy novels ( writing as Tex Burns ) . The newer Hoppy’s character was based on Boyd’s portrayal of the character and not so much as Mulford had intended him to be . L’amore was unhappy with the assignment . He liked the Mulford Hopalong better . The TV series generated a flood of merchandise , though . I remember the Hopalong Cassidy lunch boxes that kids had in elementary school. There was even a Hoppyland Amusement park for a time in Venice , California . The old Venice Pier Amusement Park was reconfigured as Hoppyland in 1951 . William Boyd made regular appearances there ( he was an investor ) and he urged kids to eat their vegetables , drink their milk , and obey their parents .
Most of those old time radio shows were about a half hour long . Dragnet always ended with an arrest of the suspect and “……..was indicted in Superior Court of Los Angeles . The results of that trial in a moment “. Between acts and before and after the drama one could listen to Jack Webb plugging Chesterfield cigarettes ; always the cigarettes .
I was raised on TV . I overcame my addiction to it several years ago ; but , you know : once an addict……….but recently I got into listening to the radio dramas . I tried a few comedies but the sound was not clear enough for me to follow along very well . I’ll try agin , though , because I think people need more comedy in their lives . Just the facts , m’am , just the facts .