Rex Trailer, a long-time Boston-area television personality died Wednesday at age 84. Born Rexford Traylor in Fort Worth, Texas, Trailer worked as a rodeo performer while in his teens. He moved into television doing odd jobs for the Dupont network, rising to host the network's Oky Doky Ranch, a children's show similar to The Howdy Doody Show. Trailer moved to WPTZ in Phildelphia where he hosted several children's shows. At the same time, Trailer began a successful singer career, at one time recording with a pre-Comets Bill Haley. In 1956, with the sale of WPTZ, Trailer moved to Boston's WBZ and begain his long-running children's show Boomtown, which ran for almost twenty years and was a positive influence on an uncounted number of children throughout New England. Trailer was also dubbed "the cowboy with a conscience" for his involvement with children with disablilities. There is currently is bill going through the Massachusetts legislature naming Trailer the offical State Cowboy.
Trailer came to our house one night when I was a kid to borrow a block and tackle from my father to lift his sidekick Pablo into the air for a sketch on the next morning's program. I remember my sister being upset because she was asleep when he visited -- Linda was in high school at the time and well beyond Boomtown's demographic but Rex Trailer's personality was such that his fans never outgrew him. I ran into him several times in the 1970s and 80s after his run on Boomtown was over; he would appear at any number of events promoting chaperoned school-vacation trips to California. At these events, one could see adults -- both parents and granparents -- who grew up with Boomtown and the undiminished respect with which they held Trailer.
Trailer kept busy -- making appearances, teaching at Emerson College, running a helicopter transport company, working for mentally retarded and physically disabled children, and follow his "diving" passions (both sky and scuba).
Rex Trailer was one of the good ones. He will be missed.
Here's the theme song to Boomtown, along with some memories:
Rex and a Conestoga wagon train for the ARC:
Here's a "lost" sketch with Trailer and Pablo (Richard Kilbride):
And a song:
And a tribute to mark 60 years in television:
And, finally, here's the song Rex Trailer wrote to honor the victims of 9/11. As he explained, "Ever since 9-11, the world has changed for all of us. We have to stick together, protect each other, and let those you love, respect, and admire know how much you appreciate them." Sounds like a pretty good cowboy creed to me.
Thank you for everything, Rex Trailer.