Hopalong Cassidy (remixed) by James

Hopalong Cassidy's Australian Transformation

Hopalong Cassidy was all the rage in Australia. Perhaps even more than in the US. And for longer.

The fictional cowboy was created in 1904 by Clarence E Mulford, who wrote a series of short stories and novels, but the character is most associated with actor William Boyd who portrayed Cassidy in films, radio and television from 1935 to 1949.

Television probably secured Bill Boyd his longevity and the late introduction of television in Australia helped Hopalong thrive longer here. In the forties, the popular screen cowboys were Gene Autry and Roy Rogers but Boyd secured the rights to Hopalong Cassidy and got his films on every television screen across the US. He quickly eclipsed the competition to become the 1950s most popular cowboy star.

In Australia, the first Hopolong Cassidy novel Bar-20 was available by at least 1908.11'What to Read' , The Sunday Sun (Sydney, NSW: 1903-1910), 12 January 1908, p. 1, viewed 29 Oct 2022, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article227121606....   The first film, Hop-Along Cassidy, released in the United States in August 1935, was screening in Australian cinemas by November.22'A Magic "Dream"', The Sun (Sydney, NSW: 1910-1954), 8 November 1935, p. 6, viewed 29 Oct 2022, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article230183125...   Beginning from 26 May 1941,33'Australasian Radio Relay League', The wireless weekly: the hundred per cent Australian radio journal, Wireless Press (Sydney) v36#21 (24 May...   Hopalong Cassidy was on high rotation on Australian radios continuing throughout the fifties.

In 1950, Boyd visited Australia, welcomed by crowds of fans. The crowds were even more extreme when he again visited Australia in 1954. In Melbourne 'close on 15,000 people–most of them children–turned an appearance...into a near-riot. Weeping women and children were knocked over and men fought in a hysterical crush inside the big tent...Boyd was mauled and had his cowboy outfit torn in the struggle to reach his car.'44'Children Hurt in Rush to See Cowboy at Circus' The Age 13 November 1954, viewed 29 October 2022, https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/from-the-archives-1954-melbourne-crowd-in-hysterical-crush-to-see-hopalong-cassidy-20191111-p539hc.html...  

Highlighting the significance of these events, it has been argued that Hopalong Cassidy helped redirect Australia's cultural focus from Britain toward the US.55https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/myf-warhurst/hopalong-cassidy-in-australia/11571564...  

In September 1956, television was introduced in Australia and screenings of Hopalong Cassidy commenced within a few months.66The earliest identified episode is Wednesday 7 November 1956 on commercial station TCN (Channel 9), the week of the first...  

Some Australian newspapers ran Dan Spiegle's strip (Mirror Enterprises/King Features) from at least 1950 to 1954 (the US run ended in 1955). In 1954, The Advisor (Adelaide) promoted 'the conversion of Hopalong Cassidy into brilliant full color, in a thrilling new adventure in an Australian setting77'Fifty Million Readers Can't Be Wrong', The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA: 1931-1954), 9 December 1954, p. 1, viewed 29 October 2022,...  

From 1948, Vee Publishing/Larry Cleland reprinted the Fawcett comic series. Around the time Hopalong Cassidy shifted from Fawcett to DC, the series also transferred to DC's Australian reprint company, KG Murray (1954). When DC stopped producing new Hopalong stories in 1959, Murray's dedicated title also ceased, but Hopalong Cassidy stories continued to appear in other KGM titles.

Here's where it gets interesting.

From about 1960 to 1965, a diverse range of other DC western characters found themselves magically transformed into Hopalong Cassidy during their travels from the US to Australia. The feature names were changed, with the lead character's image changed to Hopalong and relavant text amended throughtout the stories

The images in this article show one example, 'The Boy Lawman' from Superman Presents Tip Top Comic Monthly (Colour Comics, 1965 series) #10—from an original story featuring The Wyoming Kid in Western Comics (DC, 1948 series) #44—but these edited stories appeared routinely across Murray's anthology titles until the mid-1960s.

Some other samples include:

The Hundred Comic (Colour Comics, 1961 series) #81 (previously Jimmy Wakely)

 

All Favourites Comic (Colour Comics, 1960 series) #42 (previously Jimmy Wakely)

 

Century Comic (Colour Comics, 1961 series) #75 (previously Pow-Wow Smith)

 

Five-Score Comic Monthly (Colour Comics, 1961 series) #72 (previously Jimmy Wakely)

 

The Hundred Comic (Colour Comics, 1961 series) #78 (previously Rodeo Rick)

 

Five-Score Comic Monthly (Colour Comics, 1961 series) #64 (previously Jimmy Wakely)

 

Century Comic (Colour Comics, 1961 series) #73 (previously Trigger Twins)

 

The Hundred Comic (Colour Comics, 1961 series) #87 (previously Jimmy Wakely)

 

Century Comic (Colour Comics, 1961 series) #68 (previously The Wyoming Kid)

 

The Hundred Comic (Colour Comics, 1961 series) #73 (previously Pow-Wow Smith)

 

All Star Adventure Comic (Colour Comics, 1960 series) #29 (previously Jimmy Wakely)

 

The Hundred Comic (Colour Comics, 1961 series) #80 (previously Jimmy Wakely)

 

Century Comic (Colour Comics, 1961 series) #95 (previously Jimmy Wakely)

 

Century Comic (Colour Comics, 1961 series) #74 (previously Jimmy Wakely)

 

Century Plus Comic (Color Comics, 1960 series) #55 (previously Jimmy Wakely)

 

Who did the changes? We don't currently know.

The most likely assmuption is that these changes were made in Australia to feed the continued demand for Hopalong stories.

However, it's been suggested that the touch-ups were done internationally and provided to Australian in edited form.

Boyd astutely marketed the character in multiple markets. Hopalong Cassidy was one of the first internationally distributed US programs. William Boyd Enterprises had dubbed and subtitled films in foreign language markets, syndicated and locally produced radio programs and licenced tie-in products. 'Merchandise included roller skates, bikes, cowboy clothes, hats, toy six-shooters and spurs, cookies, comic books, bread, ice cream and candy bars, and watches'.88https://www.copyright.gov/history/lore/pdfs/201309%20CLore_September2013.pdf, viewed 29 October 2022....   Boyd's company likely oversaw the changes to DC's western comics, protecting his image and likeness. Boyd also expressed his particular fondness for Australia.

So far, though, no other international printings of these stories have been identified.

As an interesting footnote, the Pow-Wow Smith story 'Gun Duel at Copper Creek' in All-Star Western (DC, 1970 series) #1 (August-September 1970) was originally intended as a Hopalong Cassidy story entitled "The Last Showdown". The Hopalong Cassidy title was cancelled prior to the story being finished, leading to one story being transformed in the opposite direction.

References

'What to Read' , The Sunday Sun (Sydney, NSW: 1903-1910), 12 January 1908, p. 1, viewed 29 Oct 2022, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article227121606.
'A Magic "Dream"', The Sun (Sydney, NSW: 1910-1954), 8 November 1935, p. 6, viewed 29 Oct 2022, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article230183125
'Australasian Radio Relay League', The wireless weekly: the hundred per cent Australian radio journal, Wireless Press (Sydney) v36#21 (24 May 1941), viewed 29 October 2022 http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-696945705.
'Children Hurt in Rush to See Cowboy at Circus' The Age 13 November 1954, viewed 29 October 2022, https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/from-the-archives-1954-melbourne-crowd-in-hysterical-crush-to-see-hopalong-cassidy-20191111-p539hc.html
https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/myf-warhurst/hopalong-cassidy-in-australia/11571564
The earliest identified episode is Wednesday 7 November 1956 on commercial station TCN (Channel 9), the week of the first ABC National Television Serice broadcast. ABC weekly ABC (Sydney) v18#44 (3 November 1956), viewed 29 October 2022 http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-1245438484.
'Fifty Million Readers Can't Be Wrong', The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA: 1931-1954), 9 December 1954, p. 1, viewed 29 October 2022, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article47603239.
https://www.copyright.gov/history/lore/pdfs/201309%20CLore_September2013.pdf, viewed 29 October 2022.