Gabby Hayes..over 70 movies
by Douglas Winther
Hayes had a chance meeting with producer Trem Carr, who liked his look and gave him thirty roles over the next six years. In his early career, Hayes was cast in a variety of roles, including villains, and occasionally played two roles in a single film. He found a niche in the growing genre of western films, many of which were series with recurring characters. Ironically, Hayes would admit he had never been a big fan of westerns.
Hayes, in real life an intelligent, well groomed and articulate man, was cast as a grizzled codger who uttered phrases like "consarn it," "yer durn tootin'," "dadgummit," "durn persnickety female," and "young whippersnapper."
From 1935 to 1939, Hayes played the part of Windy Halliday, the sidekick to Hopalong Cassidy (William Boyd). In 1939, Hayes left Paramount Pictures in a dispute over his salary and moved to Republic Pictures. Paramount held the rights to the name Windy Halliday, so a new nickname was created for Hayes' character, Gabby. As Gabby Whitaker, Hayes appeared in more than 40 films between 1939 and 1946, usually with Roy Rogers, but also with Gene Autry or Wild Bill Elliott, often working under the directorship of Joseph Kane.
NBC publicity photo, 1953
Hayes was also repeatedly cast as a sidekick to western icons Randolph Scott (six times) and John Wayne (15 times, some as straight or villainous characters). Hayes played Wayne's sidekick in Raoul Walsh's Dark Command (1940), which featured Roy Rogers in a supporting role. Hayes became a popular performer and consistently appeared among the ten favorite actors in polls taken of movie-goers of the period. He appeared in either one or both the Motion Picture Herald and Boxoffice Magazine lists of Top Ten Money-Making Western Stars for twelve straight years and a thirteenth time in 1954, four years after his last film.