George "Gabby" Hayes
Iconic cowboy sidekick George 'Gabby' Hayes juggled circus work and semi-professional baseball before running away from home at 17 to join a touring theater troupe. In 1914, he married Olive E. Ireland, and the two took to vaudeville, where they were so successful Hayes retired by his 40s. However, the stock market crash of 1929 forced Hayes to re-enter the job market. At his wife's urging they moved to Los Angeles, where Hayes's comedic timing and grizzled look served him well. By the mid-1930's, Hayes had appeared in numerous films - many of them westerns. (While Hayes played villains and sidekicks, he is best remembered for the latter.) His first claim to fame was as sidekick Windy Halliday in the Hopalong Cassidy films. When Hayes left over a salary dispute, he was legally barred from using "Windy," and so took on the moniker "Gabby," after playing Gabby Whitaker in 1939's "Southward Ho". This particular character would go on to appear in over 30 westerns, and became a noted element of the genre's iconography. Hayes worked opposite western stars like Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and John Wayne, with whom he shared the screen 15 times. In 1956, he left film for television with the western-themed children's program "The Gabby Hayes Show". Hayes retired for good in 1958, and died 11 years later, leaving behind nearly 200 films and a legacy of rootin' tootin' laughter.