George Francis Hayes, better known by his stage name Gabby Hayes, was an American actor known for appearing in numerous Western-movie sidekick roles during the 1930s and 1940s. Born in Stannards, New York in 1885, at 17 he left home to join a touring stock company before eventually transitioning into vaudeville performances until losing most of his wealth during 1929 stock market crash and returning to vaudeville before eventually turning to film acting roles.
Hayes became best-known throughout his film career for playing Windy Halliday in the Hopalong Cassidy movie series and in several others with fellow cowboy star Roy Rogers; also, six times with John Wayne and five with Gene Autry.
Hayes was an immensely popular performer in the 1920s and 1930s. Beginning his career touring vaudeville troupes before making the transition to Broadway. Hayes became the first performer ever to win both Tony Award for Best Supporting Actor as well as Golden Globe award for Most Promising Newcomer simultaneously – receiving both accolades in 1954 as part of being honored on Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Hayes achieved immense success after making the switch from theatre to film, appearing in over 40 movies and television shows as the comic foil of Western stars like Roy Rogers and John Wayne. His best known roles involved being their faithful comic companion despite their rebellious ways.
Hayes became more and more involved with television in his later years, appearing several times on Howdy Doody and hosting the Gabby Hayes Western kids show for Fawcett Publications as well as lending his name to an English summer camp for children in New York.
Hayes first gained fame as one of the supporting actors playing Western heroes during his early career. His iconic look featured a thick gray beard dyed and styled into a brush-like shape; cactus spines on his hat; and brown leather gloves. When Hayes’ wife died in 1957, he moved to California and managed a 10-unit apartment complex before eventually succumbing to cardiovascular issues and dying at age 83 in 1969 in Forest Lawn-Hollywood Hills Cemetery near Los Angeles.