George "Gabby" Hayes

Active - 1929 - 1950  |   Born - May 7, 1885   |   Died - Feb 9, 1969   |   Genres - Western, Action

Share on

Biography by Hal Erickson

Virtually the prototype of all grizzled old-codger western sidekicks, George "Gabby" Hayes professed in real life to hate westerns, complaining that they all looked and sounded alike. For his first few decades in show business, he appeared in everything but westerns, including travelling stock companies, vaudeville, and musical comedy. He began appearing in films in 1928, just in time to benefit from the talkie explosion. In contrast to his later unshaven, toothless screen persona, George Hayes (not yet Gabby) frequently showed up in clean-faced, well groomed articulate characterizations, sometimes as the villain. In 1933 he appeared in several of the Lone Star westerns featuring young John Wayne, alternating between heavies and comedy roles. Wayne is among the many cowboy stars who has credited Hayes with giving them valuable acting tips in their formative days. In 1935, Hayes replaced an ailing Al St. John in a supporting role in the first Hopalong Cassidy film, costarring with William Boyd; Hayes' character died halfway through this film, but audience response was so strong that he was later brought back into the Hoppy series as a regular. It was while sidekicking for Roy Rogers at Republic that Hayes, who by now never appeared in pictures with his store-bought teeth, earned the soubriquet "Gabby", peppering the soundtrack with such slurred epithets as "Why, you goldurned whipersnapper" and "Consarn it!" He would occasionally enjoy an A-picture assignment in films like Dark Command (1940) and Tall in the Saddle (1944), but from the moment he became "Gabby", Hayes was more or less consigned exclusively to "B"s. After making his last film appearance in 1952, Hayes turned his attentions to television, where he starred in the popular Saturday-morning Gabby Hayes Show ("Hullo out thar in televisium land!") and for a while was the corporate spokesman for Popsicles. Retiring after a round of personal appearance tours, Hayes settled down on his Nevada ranch, overseeing his many business holdings until his death at age 83.

Movie Highlights

See Full Filmography