Unusual Baby Name: Hopalong

hopalong cassidy, cover of Life magazine, 1950
Hopalong on cover of Life, June 1950
Here’s a baby name I did not expect to find.

I got curious about “Hopalong” after writing the Topper post, which mentions famous fictional cowboy Hopalong Cassidy.

Hopalong Cassidy, always portrayed by actor William Boyd, appeared in 66 low-budget movies in the ’30s and ’40s. (In fact, Boyd is in The Guinness Book of World Records for making the most film performances in the same role.)

But the character was most popular during the 1950s, after Boyd bought the television rights to Hopalong and the movies began airing on TV (the first in mid-1949). This made Hopalong Cassidy the very first TV cowboy. In 1950, Life magazine detailed the financial success of the character/brand: “Hopalong has become an economic colossus, born of television’s desperate need for ready-made programs.”

So far, I’ve tracked down three real people with the name Hopalong. The earliest was born in Texas in 1943. The next was born in Micronesia in 1959. And the most recent, for whom “Hopalong” was a middle name, was born in Texas in 1979. (The name was also used for the puppet “Hop Along Wong” in the 1950s kid’s TV show Time for Beany.)

The character William “Hopalong” Cassidy originated in stories written in the early 1900s by Clarence E. Mulford. Originally Hopalong was a much rougher man, and he had limp — hence the nickname.

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