Gabby Hayes appeared in about 15 John Wayne movies.
But Gabby was as a ‘sidekick’ companion for several Western Stars of the era.
Gabby on John Wayne:
“He’s my boy. He’s the best. Couldn’t think more of him if he was my own son.”
Born in the hamlet of Stannards, New York. As a young man, George Hayes worked in a circus and played semi-pro baseball while a teenager. He ran away from home at 17, in 1902, and joined a touring stock company. He married Olive Ireland in 1914 and the pair became quite successful on the vaudeville circuit. Retired in his 40s, he lost much of his money in the 1929 stock market crash and was forced to return to work. Moving to California he played scores of roles in Westerns and non-Westerns alike, finally in the mid-1930s settling in to an almost exclusively Western career. He gained fame as Hopalong Cassidy‘s sidekick Windy Halliday in many films between 1936-39. Changed his name to “Gabby” about 1940. Besides John Wayne and Hopalong, Gabby appeared along side Roy Rogers, Randolph Scott and Wild Bill Elliot. One of the few sidekicks to land on the annual list of Top Ten Western Boxoffice Stars, he did so repeatedly. He appeared in either one or both the Motion Picture Herald and Boxoffice Magazine lists of Top Ten Money-making Western Stars for 12 straight years and a 13th time in 1954, four years after his last film. Offstage an elegant and well-appointed connoisseur and man-about-town, Hayes devoted the final years of his life to his investments.
Playing mainly the role as a grizzled old codger, Gabby uttered phrases such as
“consarn it”, “yer durn tootin'”, “dadgummit”, “durn persnickety female”, and “young whippersnapper.”
Gabby [on westerns]:
“I hate ’em. Really can’t stand ’em. They always are the same. You have so few plots–the stagecoach holdup, the
rustlers, the mortgage gag, the mine setting and the retired gunslinger.”
MFW: That was sure true of many of the early Westerns. They had a formula and just cranked them out.