Hopalong Cassidy

Recently, I went through some of Cassidy’s ‘achievements’ and I stated there that he was not mentioned on IMDB. Since then, I have found out that he did appear on IMDB, acting in a film produced by a household name, Andy Warhol. The film was called Horse, and it was made in Warhol’s Factory in April 1965, around the time Cassidy was flunking out of Cornell.

I would have to declare a particular interest here. Pretty much everything to do with the sixties fills me with disgust. The vast majority of the music was pretty vile, (give me the Killers or the Foo Fighters any day) the clothing was ludicrous and many of the books which people read back then have not stood the test of time. It was the decade that taste forgot.

Warhol is, of course, a respected artist, and in case anyone should harbour suspicions about the homophobic bigotry of the Irish (even after the recent referendum), I have no problem with his sexuality. However, in the uncritical atmosphere of the sixties, Warhol was just as capable of producing pretentious crap as anyone else and I suspect that is what happened here. Much of what passed for artistic endeavour in the sixties seems to me like the first stage of a brainstorming: no negativity, anything goes, just put down whatever comes into your head. Of course, in a brainstorming you then refine and develop the shlock you initially produced. In the sixties, you published it and called it art. As someone once said about the sixties, ‘It all seemed like a really good idea at the time.’

So, this deconstruction of a western features camp cowboys in jockstraps uttering lines like ‘There’s gold in them there hills’ and ‘I’m an onanist.’ At one point, a huge and well-endowed stallion is brought in and the actors, who are reading their lines off large cards, are instructed to ‘Approach the horse sexually.’

Quite apart from the pretentiousness of the whole enterprise, there is something strangely coy about the use of language here. It’s hard to imagine anyone in the nineties or the noughties directing an arthouse skin-flick and instructing the actors with lines like: ‘OK, stop being an onanist and approach him sexually!’

One of the actors was kicked in the head by the horse as he was ‘approaching it sexually’ and lost consciousness. Strangely, this was not Cassidy – it would explain a lot – but the director then instructed several of the cowpokes (horsepokes?) to attack and strip the unconscious individual, which, being out of their heads on dope and poppers, they were only too happy to do. One of these attackers, Tex, was Dan Cassidy Jr. They had to be restrained before they injured the unconscious man. There is a still from the movie above. Recognise the cowboy in the white trousers and boots staring out at the camera?

Then finally, Edie Sedgwick turned up in an elevator and gave the horse a sandwich.

Apparently, this forgotten cinematic gem of the sixties is not available on DVD. Go figure!

4 thoughts on “Hopalong Cassidy

  1. Susan Cassidy Connors

    Warhol also helped him publish a book of poetry back then. It wasn’t bound like a traditional book, it was in a pink and yellow plastic box–I don’t remember the name..
    “The Heroin Years” — loads of fun for the whole family….

  2. Debunker Post author

    Hi Susan, Like I say, I’m sure it all seemed like a good idea at the time, but sometimes total freedom is pretty much the same as total selfishness. The thing about the poetry in a box kind of confirms my view of the sixties – ‘we won’t bother with a book – that’s so old-fashioned – no, we’ll put it all in a box.’ And now, no library has a copy. Did you read any of his poems? The one I came across on line was called something like ‘For Flossie”. It wasn’t great. I haven’t been able to find it again since.

  3. Susan Cassidy Connors

    I did read some of his poetry, but I am 8 years younger than he was, so I really quite young when I read it. I know that he won an award for writing at Cornell before he flunked out.
    I also can tell you again that he NEVER finished college. I have no idea where anyone came up the him going to Columbia–he moved to SF years and years ago. It was wonderful for the rest of his family having him across the country–he was a terrible thief and liar. He was the kind of person who would steal your wallet and then help you look for it….
    It just amazes me how much B/S that he got away with! It’s disgraceful. He really thought he was so much smarter than everyone–a real egomaniac with a inferiority complex–that’s why he always barked at anyone who dared to question him.
    I am so glad that you didn’t let him get away with this absurd book.

  4. Debunker Post author

    Hi Susan, I managed to locate that poem.

    Poem – To Flossy
    written on the midnight bus arriving in new york at dawn

    the sun was
    lemon colored

    just rising
    over the night

    the same time
    the city rose

    quick self high
    and they sort

    of met as
    we sat there

    the bus
    speeding on &

    on into
    our world

    & the sun
    rising &

    shining on
    those buildings

    I remember it
    all pretty good

    Not the best poem I’ve ever read. Thank you for your kind words. I hope my efforts are having an effect. The sales of the book certainly seem to have slowed up, which is great, but I think there are still plenty of stupid people out there who will buy this nonsense in spite of its total incompetence. As for the question of how people came to believe he attended Columbia, I think I can shed some light on that. In 2006, your brother contributed an article to a trad jazz newsletter in California called the Frisco Cricket. There is a brief biographical note at the top of this article:

    Daniel Cassidy is the founder and co-director of the Irish Studies Program at New College of California and faculty chair of the Media and Film Studies Program. A musician and award winning film maker, Cassidy’s has written for the NY Times, San Francisco Chronicle, New York Observer, Atlantic Monthly, Counterpunch magazine and Hot Press in Ireland. Cassidy was born in Brooklyn,and educated at Cornell and Columbia Universities. He lives with his wife Clare in San Francisco.

    Now, when someone contributes to a small newsletter like this, the editors don’t generally compile a biographical note themselves. They ask the contributor to provide one. In other words, I think it’s pretty much a certainty that your brother was claiming to have degrees from Cornell and Columbia, though the confusion about which university he did his first degree in suggests that he hadn’t got his story straight – as I’ve said before, in spite of all the practice, he relied on chutzpah a lot and neglected the basic principles of the con-man’s art. How The Irish Invented Slang really isn’t a great piece of lying because it is so ridiculous in so many ways. The bit about him being an ‘award-winning film maker’ is also stretching it – he was nominated for an Emmy (apparently – there’s no solid evidence), but a nomination isn’t a win …

    I’m guessing he once stole your purse and helped you look for it! Am I right? 🙂


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