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Thursday, 7 May 2020


Available for freelance writing commissions on a variety of subjects including family history, nostalgic Belfast and its famous people, shops, shoppers & shopping, the golden age of Hollywood (esp westerns) and humorous pieces on life's weird and wonderful. Op-eds, columns, non-fiction book reviews too. & @JoeCushnan

I have a portfolio of features, reviews, poetry and short fiction published in all sorts of places - Belfast Telegraph, Tribune, Ireland's Own, Dalhousie Review, Fairlight Books, Reader's Digest, Reality, Lapwing Poetry, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Spillwords, Dear Reader, Amethyst Review, to name a selection.  Oh, and the odd BBC radio contribution. 

This is a series of very, very short items that have nothing to do with the current news agenda.  Swift diversions for a moment or two.

Apropos of Nothing #20 – 7 May 1885

George “Gabby” Hayes was born on 7 May, 1885.  He is best known as one of the many supporting actors in westerns, mainly, from the early years of cinema in the 1930s until his retirement around 1956.  He was also successful on radio and television.

He was one of seven children and the family lived in his father’s hotel, the Hayes Hotel, in New York.  He left home at seventeen and joined a stock theatre company, a circus and eventually became a successful vaudeville act.  He married his wife Olive in 1914 and they toured together in vaudeville.  The money earned was good, enough to live on and some spare to save.  But then came 1929.  They were hit badly by the stock market crash.  They moved to Los Angeles and at the end of the 1920s and into the 1930s, Hayes started getting work in films.

In a very successful career, he supported Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers, and Gene Autry, and was sidekick to Randolph Scott and John Wayne in several productions.  He was often cast as a grizzly codger, sometimes comedically, sometimes as a villain.  He made his final movie appearance in Cariboo Trail (1950) with Scott and then moved to television to host The Gabby Hayes Show.

His wife died in 1957.  After his retirement, Hayes lived in and managed an apartment block in Hollywood.  He was admitted to hospital in 1969 for treatment of a cardiovascular disease. He died at 83 on 9 February, 1969.

He has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Westerns benefitted greatly from many fine supporting cast members and George “Gabby” Hayes was one of the finest there has ever been.

George "Gabby" Hayes

Sources: Various

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