George "Gabby" Hayes: American actor (1885 - 1969) | Biography
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George "Gabby" Hayes
American actor

George "Gabby" Hayes

George "Gabby" Hayes
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American actor
A.K.A. George Francis Hayes, Gabby Hayes
Was Actor Television actor Film actor Radio personality
From United States of America
Field Film, TV, Stage & Radio
Gender male
Birth 7 May 1885, Stannards, Allegany County, New York, USA
Death 9 February 1969, Burbank, Los Angeles County, California, USA (aged 83 years)
Star sign Taurus
star on Hollywood Walk of Fame  
George "Gabby" Hayes
The details (from wikipedia)


George Francis "Gabby" Hayes (7 May 1885 – 9 February 1969) was an American actor. He began as something of a leading man and a character player, but he was best known for his numerous appearances in B-Western film series as the bewhiskered, cantankerous, but ever-loyal and brave comic sidekick of the cowboy stars Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers and John Wayne.

Early years

Hayes was born the third of seven children in his father's hotel, the Hayes Hotel, in Stannards, New York, a hamlet just outside Wellsville, New York. (Hayes always gave Wellsville as his birthplace, but legally he was born in Stannards.) He was the son of Elizabeth Morrison and Clark Hayes. His father, in addition to operating the Hayes Hotel, was also involved in oil production. His siblings included his brothers, William W., Morrison, and Clark B., and his sisters, Nellie Elizabeth Hayes Ebeling and Harriet "Hattie" Elizabeth Hayes Allen. Morrison Hayes, a corporal in the United States Army, was killed in action on July 19, 1918, during World War I in France and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions during the war. The American Legion post in Wellsville is named after Morrison Hayes. His uncle on his mother's side was George F. Morrison, vice president of General Electric.

George Hayes grew up in Stannards and attended Stannards School. He played semi-professional baseball while in high school. He ran away from home in 1902, at 17, joined a stock company, apparently traveled for a time with a circus, and became a successful vaudevillian.

Hayes married Olive E. Ireland, the daughter of a New Jersey glass finisher, on March 4, 1914. She joined him in vaudeville, performing under the name Dorothy Earle (not to be confused with film actress and writer Dorothy Earle). Hayes had become so successful that by 1928, at age 43, he was able to retire to a home on Long Island in Baldwin, New York. He lost all his savings the next year in the 1929 stock market crash. Olive persuaded her husband to try his luck in films, and the couple moved to Los Angeles. They remained together until her death on July 5, 1957. The couple had no children.

Film career

George Hayes, without his facial hair, as the villain Matt the Mute in Randy Rides Alone, 1934
With John Wayne in Blue Steel (1934)

After his move to Los Angeles, according to later interviews, Hayes had a chance meeting with the producer Trem Carr (originally Tremlet C. Carr), who liked his look and gave him 30 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. Hayes did not come from a cowboy background; he did not know how to ride a horse until he was in his forties and had to learn film roles.

Hayes, in real life an intelligent, well-groomed and articulate man, was often cast as a grizzled codger who uttered phrases such as "consarn it", "yer durn tootin'", "dadgummit", "durn persnickety female", and "young whippersnapper". From 1935 to 1939, Hayes played the part of Windy Halliday, the humorous "codger" sidekick of Hopalong Cassidy (played by William Boyd). In 1939, Hayes left that role at Paramount Pictures after a dispute over his salary and moved to Republic Pictures. Since Paramount held the rights to the name Windy Halliday, they renamed him Gabby Whitaker, in virtually the same role. As Gabby, he appeared in more than 40 films between 1939 and 1946, usually with Roy Rogers (44 times), but also with Gene Autry (7) and Wild Bill Elliott (14), often working under the directorship of Joseph Kane (34). Hayes was also repeatedly cast as a sidekick of the Western stars Randolph Scott (six times) and John Wayne (fifteen 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 10 favorite actors in polls taken of moviegoers of the period. He appeared in either one or both the Motion Picture Herald and Boxoffice Magazine lists of the Top Ten Moneymaking Western Stars for twelve straight years and a thirteenth time in 1954, four years after his last film.

Westerns declined in popularity in the late 1940s, and Hayes made his last film in the genre in 1950: The Cariboo Trail. He had appeared in 174 westerns. He moved to television and hosted The Gabby Hayes Show, a Western series, from 1950 to 1954 on NBC and, in a new version in 1956, on ABC. The show was sponsored by Quaker Oats, whose products were prominently advertised during the show. Gabby would promote the puffed wheat product by saying to stand back from the screen and firing a cannon loaded with cereal at the screen as a tie in to their ad slogan: "shot from guns". He introduced the show, often while whittling on a piece of wood, and would sometimes throw in a tall tale. Halfway through the show, he would say something else, and at the end of the show, also, but he did not appear as an active character in the stories. When the series ended, Hayes retired from show business. During this time, he made guest appearances on television, including several on Howdy Doody for his friend "Buffalo" Bob Smith. He lent his name to a comic book series, "Gabby Hayes Western" comics, published by Fawcett Publications from November 1948 until January 1957, and to a children's summer camp in New York.


Hayes's grave at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills

Following his wife's death on July 5, 1957, Hayes lived at his ranch on Toluca Lake in California. He later managed a 10-unit apartment building he owned in North Hollywood, California.

Early in 1969 he entered Saint Joseph Hospital in Burbank, California, for treatment of cardiovascular disease. Hayes died there on February 9, 1969, at the age of 83. He is interred in the Forest Lawn–Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles.


Two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame commemorate Hayes's work in the entertainment industry: one for his contribution to radio, at 6427 Hollywood Boulevard, and one for his contribution to television, at 1724 Vine Street. In 2000, he was posthumously inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Popular culture

John Wayne and Gabby Hayes
The Gabby Hayes Show (1951)

Homage was paid to Hayes in a different way in the 1974 satirical Western Blazing Saddles. The actor and director Jack Starrett, credited as Claude Ennis Starrett, Jr., played a Hayes-like character. In keeping with a running joke in the movie, the character is called Gabby Johnson. After Johnson delivers a rousing, though partially unintelligible speech to the townspeople, David Huddleston's character stands up to say, "Now, who can argue with that?!", and proclaims it "authentic frontier gibberish".

In the animated film Toy Story 2, the character Stinky Pete the Prospector, voiced by Kelsey Grammer, is modeled after Hayes. In the film's fictional universe, he is a toy version of a character on the marionette television western Woody's Roundup, where he is a colorful comic relief character. In contrast, the toy is intelligent and well-spoken, a reference to Hayes's contrasting real-life and film personas.

Into a Mighty Carson Art Players sketch on The Tonight Show, Johnny Carson impersonated Gabby Hayes in a sketch with Roy Rogers. This sketch has appeared on Carson's syndicated series Carson's Comedy Classics, which features highlights from his years as The Tonight Show host.

Hayes was mentioned in The Simpsons episode "Radioactive Man", in which Milhouse becomes Radioactive Man's sidekick, Fallout Boy; the director of the film comments that Milhouse is "going to be big, Gabby Hayes big!"

Every year in early July, from 1983 through 1989, "Gabby Hayes Days" were celebrated in Wellsville, New York. The event featured a street sale, square dancing, and Hayes look-alike contests for adults and children. This celebration was eventually merged in the mid-July Wellsville Balloon Rally and gradually disappeared. A street is also named after him in Wellsville, Gabby Hayes Lane.

Since April 1969, a band of fishermen has traveled to Kettle Creek, Potter County, Pennsylvania, for the "Gabby Hayes Memorial Trout Fishing Tournament". These men, known as Gabby Guys, gather annually to celebrate the opening day of the trout fishing season and the memory of Hayes. On April 2019, they celebrated their fiftieth anniversary, which also marked 50 years since Hayes' passing.

Partial filmography

  • The Rainbow Man (1929) as Bill (debut)
  • Big News (1929) as Hoffman - Reporter
  • Smiling Irish Eyes (1929) as Taxi Driver
  • Top Speed (1930) as Western Union Clerk (uncredited)
  • For the Defense (1930) as Ben - Waiter (uncredited)
  • Playing Around (1930) as Railroad Ticket Seller (uncredited)
  • She Who Gets Slapped (1930) as Poker Player (uncredited), short film
  • Cavalier of the West (1931) as Sheriff Bill Ryan
  • Freighters of Destiny (1931) as Jim
  • Oklahoma Jim (1931) as Crooked Gambler (uncredited)
  • The Nevada Buckaroo (1931) as Cherokee Williams
  • Pleasure (1931) as Motorcycle Cop
  • Big Business Girl (1931) as Hotel Clerk (uncredited)
  • God's Country and the Man (1931) as Stingaree Kelly
  • Dirigible (1931) as Parade Official (uncredited)
  • The Stolen Jools (1931) as Projectionist (as George Hayes)
  • Dragnet Patrol (1931) as Private Detective
  • Play Girl (1932) as Dance Hall Tobacconist (uncredited)
  • Love Me Tonight (1932) as Grocer (uncredited)
  • Winner Take All (1932) as Intern at Rosario Ranch
  • Ghost Valley (1932) as Dave (uncredited)
  • The Man from Hell's Edges (1932) as Shamrock Cassidy
  • The Boiling Point (1932) as George Duncan
  • Riders of the Desert (1932) as Hashknife Brooks
  • Border Devils (1932) as Dude Sanders
  • Wild Horse Mesa (1932) as Slack
  • Sally of the Subway (1932) as Police Lieutenant Paxton (uncredited)
  • Texas Buddies (1932) as Si Haller
  • Hidden Valley (1932) as Henchman Gavin - Black Hat
  • Broadway to Cheyenne (1932) as Walrus
  • Klondike (1932) as Tom Ross
  • The Night Rider (1932) as Altoonie
  • The Fighting Champ (1932) as Pete
  • Crashin' Broadway (1932) as J. Talbot Thorndyke
  • Self Defense (1932) as Jury Foreman
  • Ship of Wanted Men (1933) as Crewman
  • Ranger's Code (1933) as Baxter
  • Skyway (1933) as George Taylor
  • Galloping Romeo (1933) as Grizzly
  • The Fugitive (1933) as Judge Taylor
  • Fighting Texans (1933) as Pop Martin
  • The Sphinx (1933) as Det. Casey
  • Breed of the Border (1933) as Chuck Wiggins
  • Devil's Mate (1933) as Collins
  • Riders of Destiny (1933) as Charlie Denton (The first of a series of John Wayne Lone Star Westerns)
  • The Gallant Fool (1933) as Dad Denton
  • The Return of Casey Jones (1933) as Timothy Shine
  • Trailing North (1933) as Flash Ryan
  • The Phantom Broadcast (1933) as Police Lieutenant
  • The Brand of Hate (1934) as Bill Larkins
  • Monte Carlo Nights (1934) as Inspector Nick Gunby
  • The Lucky Texan (1934) as Jake Benson
  • West of the Divide (1934) as Dusty
  • Blue Steel (1934) as Sheriff Jake Withers
  • Randy Rides Alone (1934) as Marvin Black aka Matt the Mute
  • The Star Packer (1934) as Matt Matlock
  • The Lawless Frontier (1934) as Dusty
  • The Man from Utah (1934) as Marshal George Higgins
  • 'Neath the Arizona Skies (1934) as Matt Downing (uncredited)
  • In Old Santa Fe (1934) as Cactus (Gene Autry's screen debut)
  • The Man from Hell (1934) as Col. Campbell - Banker
  • City Limits (1934) as Charlie Carter
  • House of Mystery (1934) as David Fells
  • The Lost Jungle (1934) as Doctor - Dirigible Passenger
  • Mystery Liner (1934) as Joe, the Watchman
  • Beggars in Ermine (1934) as Joe Wilson
  • The Lost City (1935) as Butterfield
  • Texas Terror (1935) as Sheriff Ed Williams
  • Rainbow Valley (1935) as George Hole
  • Smokey Smith (1935) as Blaze Bart
  • Tombstone Terror (1935) as Soupy Baxter
  • The Headline Woman (1935) as Police Desk Sgt. Duffy
  • Hitch Hike Lady (1935) as Miner
  • Swifty (1935) as Sheriff Dan Hughes
  • Bar 20 Rides Again (1935) as Windy
  • The Eagle's Brood (1935) as Bartender Spike
  • 1000 Dollars a Minute (1935) as "New Deal" Watson
  • The Throwback (1935) as Ford Cruze
  • Thunder Mountain (1935) as Foley
  • Tumbling Tumbleweeds (1935) as Dr. Parker
  • Welcome Home (1935) as Charles Rogers (uncredited)
  • The Farmer Takes a Wife (1935) as Lucas (uncredited)
  • Hop-Along Cassidy (1935) as Uncle Ben
  • Honeymoon Limited (1935) as Jasper Pinkham
  • Ladies Crave Excitement (1935) as Dan McCloskey
  • Justice of the Range (1935) as John Coffin known as Pegleg Sanderson
  • The Hoosier Schoolmaster (1935) as Pearson
  • The Outlaw Tamer (1935) as Cactus Barnes
  • Death Flies East (1935) as Wotkyns
  • The Lawless Nineties (1936) as Major Carter
  • Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936) as Farmer's Spokesman (uncredited)
  • The Texas Rangers (1936) as Judge Snow
  • Valiant Is the Word for Carrie (1936) as Bearded Man
  • Hopalong Cassidy Returns (1936) as Windy Halliday
  • The Plainsman (1936) as Breezy
  • Trail Dust (1936) as Windy
  • Hearts in Bondage (1936) as Ezra
  • I Married a Doctor (1936) as Train Station Agent
  • Three on the Trail (1936) as Windy Halliday
  • Song of the Trail (1936) as Dan Hobson
  • Call of the Prairie (1936) as Shanghai
  • Heart of the West (1936) as Windy
  • Silver Spurs (1936) as Drag Harlan
  • Valley of the Lawless (1936) as Grandpaw Jenkins
  • Borderland (1937) as Windy Halliday
  • Rustlers' Valley (1937) as Windy Halliday
  • Texas Trail (1937) as Windy Halliday
  • North of the Rio Grande (1937) as Windy Halliday
  • Mountain Music (1937) as Grandpappy Burnside
  • Hills of Old Wyoming (1937) as Windy Halliday
  • Hopalong Rides Again (1937) as Windy Halliday
  • Heart of Arizona (1938) as Windy Halliday
  • Bar 20 Justice (1938) as Windy Halliday
  • In Old Mexico (1938) as Windy Halliday
  • Pride of the West (1938) as Windy Halliday
  • The Frontiersmen (1938) as Windy Halliday
  • Sunset Trail (1938) as Windy Halliday
  • Gold Is Where You Find It (1938) as Enoch
  • Silver on the Sage (1939) as Windy Halliday
  • Renegade Trail (1939) as Windy Halliday
  • Days of Jesse James (1939) as Gabby Whittaker
  • Let Freedom Ring (1939) as 'Pop" Wilkie
  • Saga of Death Valley (1939) as Gabby Whittaker
  • The Arizona Kid (1939) as Gabby Whittaker
  • In Old Monterey (1939) as Gabby Whittaker
  • Wall Street Cowboy (1939) as Gabby Whittaker
  • In Old Caliente (1939) as Gabby Whittaker
  • Man of Conquest (1939) as Lannie Upchurch
  • Southward Ho (1939) as Gabby Whittaker
  • Fighting Thoroughbreds (1939) as 'Gramps' Montrose
  • Dark Command (1940) as Doc Grunch
  • Wagons Westward (1940) as Hardtack
  • The Carson City Kid (1940) as Marshal Gabby Whittaker
  • The Border Legion (1940) as Honest John Whittaker
  • Melody Ranch (1940) as Pop Laramie
  • Young Bill Hickok (1940) as Gabby Whittaker
  • Colorado (1940) as Gabby
  • The Ranger and the Lady (1940) as Texas Ranger Sergeant Gabby Whittaker
  • Young Buffalo Bill (1940) as Gabby Whittaker
  • Robin Hood of the Pecos (1941) as Gabriel "Gabby" Hornaday
  • Sheriff of Tombstone (1941) as Judge Gabby Whittaker
  • Red River Valley (1941) as Gabby Whittaker
  • Jesse James at Bay (1941) as Sheriff Gabby Whittaker
  • Bad Man of Deadwood (1941) as Professor Mortimer 'Gabby' Blackstone
  • Nevada City (1941) as Gabby Chapman
  • In Old Cheyenne (1941) as Arapahoe Brown
  • Man from Cheyenne (1942) as Gabby Whittaker
  • Romance on the Range (1942) as Gabby
  • Sons of the Pioneers (1942) as Gabby Whittaker
  • Ridin' Down the Canyon (1942) as Gabby
  • Heart of the Golden West (1942) as Gabby
  • Sunset Serenade (1942) as Gabby
  • Sunset on the Desert (1942) as Gabby Whittaker
  • South of Santa Fe (1942) as Gabby Whittaker
  • Calling Wild Bill Elliott (1943) as Gabby Whittaker
  • In Old Oklahoma (1943) as Despirit Dean
  • Death Valley Manhunt (1943) as Gabby Hayes
  • Overland Mail Robbery (1943) as Gabby
  • Wagon Tracks West (1943) as Gabby
  • Bordertown Gun Fighters (1943) as Gabby Hayes
  • The Man from Thunder River (1943) as Gabby Whittaker
  • Mojave Firebrand (1944) as Gabby Hayes
  • Hidden Valley Outlaws (1944) as Gabby Hayes
  • Tall in the Saddle (1944) as Dave
  • The Big Bonanza (1944) as Hap Selby
  • Tucson Raiders (1944) as Gabby Hopkins
  • Lights of Old Santa Fe as Gabby Whittaker
  • Marshal of Reno (1944) as Gabby
  • Sunset in El Dorado (1945) as Gabby
  • The Man from Oklahoma (1945) as Gabby Whittaker
  • Bells of Rosarita (1945) as Gabby Whittaker
  • Utah (1945) as Gabby Whittaker
  • Don't Fence Me In (1945) as Gabby Whittaker aka Wildcat Kelly
  • Along the Navajo Trail (1945) as Gabby Whittaker
  • My Pal Trigger (1946) as Gabby Kendrick
  • Heldorado (1946) as Gabby
  • Home in Oklahoma (1946) as Gabby Whittaker
  • Roll on Texas Moon (1946) as Gabby Whittaker
  • Under Nevada Skies (1946) as Gabby Whittaker
  • Rainbow Over Texas (1946) as Sheriff Gabby Whittaker
  • Badman's Territory (1946) as Coyote
  • Song of Arizona (1946) as Coyote
  • Wyoming (1947) as Windy Gibson
  • Trail Street (1947) as Billy
  • Albuquerque (1948) as Juke
  • Return of the Bad Men (1948) as John Petit
  • The Untamed Breed (1948) as Windy Lucas
  • El Paso (1949) as Pasky (Pescaloosa) Tees
  • The Cariboo Trail (1950) as Oscar aka Grizzly

Comic book appearances

  • Gabby Hayes Adventure Comics #1 (1953, Toby Press)
  • Gabby Hayes Western #1–59 (1948–1957, Fawcett Publications)
  • Gabby Hayes Western #50–111 (1951–1955, L. Miller black-and-white reprints of Fawcett Comics)
  • Gabby Hayes Mini Comics, 5 issues (1951, Quaker Oats giveaway)
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 11 Sep 2023. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Who is George "Gabby" Hayes?
A: George Francis "Gabby" Hayes (May 7, 1885 – February 9, 1969) was an American actor. He is best known for his numerous appearances in Western films as the colorful sidekick to the leading man.
Q: What were some of George "Gabby" Hayes' notable roles?
A: Some of Hayes' most notable roles include playing the part of Windy Halliday, the sidekick to Hopalong Cassidy in the popular Hopalong Cassidy series of westerns starring William Boyd from 1935 to 1937, and Gabby Whitaker in the Roy Rogers westerns.
Q: When did George "Gabby" Hayes start his career in acting?
A: Hayes began his career in Hollywood in silent films in 1929, going on to appear in over 200 films and 100 television shows.
Q: Why was George "Gabby" Hayes known for playing sidekick roles?
A: Hayes was most known for his sidekick roles because his premature baldness made it difficult for him to be cast as a leading man. However, his talent for comedy and his distinctive voice eventually made him one of the most recognizable and beloved actors in Western films.
Q: When did George "Gabby" Hayes retire?
A: Hayes retired from acting in 1953, but he made a television comeback in 1960 with guest appearances on several shows. He passed away on February 9, 1969, at the age of 83.
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