Sunday, June 5, 2016

Born Today June 5: William Boyd


William Lawrence Boyd was born in Hendrysburg, Ohio, the son of a day laborer and his wife.  The family quickly relocated to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where Boyd would grow up.  When he was quite a young man, he father passed away and he made the move to California and found work as an orange picker.  He would go on to be a tool dresser, surveyor and an auto salesman.  He also found extra work in bit uncredited parts in films; with his first appearance coming in Cecil B. DeMille's Old Wives For New (1918).  At first he seems to have regarded this film work as just another odd job, but when he enlisted in the Army to fight in World War I, he was rejected on grounds of having a week heart, he returned to Hollywood.  Soon more prominent film roles began roll in for him. His first actual credited role seems to have come in 1920 with "carpenter" in The City Of Masks .  In 1923, he was given a small but named/credited role in DeMille's silent version of Adam's Rib; things then started to pick up for him.  By the mid 1920's he was solidly known as a leading man in Hollywood, with a yearly salary to match ($100,000, that is around 1.3 million dollars).  In 1926, he was given the lead role in yet another DeMille film:  The Volga Boatman.  For a time he was DeMille's go to guy.  In 1929 he landed a role as a "Count" in his first sound film, a very early talkie by famed/infamous silent movie directorial pioneer D. W. Griffith, in The Lady Of Pavements.  The last film that he made in the 1920's was the all talking His First Command.  Around this time, another actor with the name William "Stage" Boyd was arrested on charges of gambling and alcohol charges.  The studio that this William Boyd worked for assumed that the news paper article was about him and fired him.  Having squandered his money, he was brought up short and left destitute.  He kicked around Hollywood taking any parts he could land, asking for credit under the name Bill or Billy Boyd to avoid people getting him further mixed up with the other Boyd.  This all changed in 1935, when he was offered a supporting role in the up coming production of Hop-Along Cassidy; he had other ideas.  He asked to be considered for the title role, worked for it and won it.  From then on, he was known to the world as Hop-Along Cassidy.  He would not play any other character for the rest of his acting career.  Eventually the character was given his own television program, which ran from 1952 thru to 1954.  Upon the show's cancellation, Boyd retired from acting.  He then got involved in real estate investing and moved to Palm Desert.  He eventually moved to Laguna Beach, where is died on 12 September in 1972 from heart failure as a severe complication of Parkinson's Disease.  He is interred in a vault at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, along with his widow.  

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