Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, September 2, 2022


 Andy Devine (1905-1977), the talented character actor who sounded as if he gargled with ground glass, was a big part of my childhood.  Known maninly for his appearances in western films nd television, Devine played Roy Rogers' sidekick Cookie in ten films and was Jingles, the sidekick in The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok on both radio (1951-1956) and television (1951-1958).  His girth, voice, and gentle manner made Devine a natural to play the comic relief, but Devine could also handle serious roles such as the hero in Island in the Sky (1953) or the detective in Pete Kelly's Blues (1955). 

I have fond memories of his children's program Andy's Gang, which ran from 1955 to 1960.  The show was a successor to Smilin' Ed McConnell and His Buster Brown Gang (later Smilin' Ed's Gang) and featured McConnell with a cast of charcters that included Froggy the Gremlin and Midnight the Cat.  Andy Devine took over the hosting duties in 1954 after McConnell died of a heart attack.  Devine inherited the characters as well as the sponsor, Buster Brown shoes.  (one of the characters was Tige, Buster Brown's dog, who lived in a shoe with Buster.  The show also carried over some of the trademark bits from its predecessor -- the phrase "Plunk your magic twanger, Froggy!", Froggy's introductory "Hiya, kids, hiya!", and Midnight the Cat's "Nice." (Froggy was always the troublemaker and kids loved him for it.)  Somehow Andy Devine managed to hold together many of the old shticks and make them his own.  He ended each show by saying, "Yes, sir, we're pals, and pals always stick together.  And now, gang, don't forget church or Sunday school."

Fawcett's Andy Devine Western ran for only two issues and fetured humorous stories about Devine.  The cover of the first issue stated, "Introducing -- The master of mirth and girth, that's why he's the rage of the sage!"  And on the cover of the second issue:  "Our hero's an absolute zero...that's why he's the jest of the west."  Ah, but Andy Devine was much more than that...He deserved a longer run.


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