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UPDATED: Bobby Hoy, actor, stunt legend and director, dies at 82

Posted: February 8, 2010 6:25 p.m.
Updated: February 8, 2010 6:41 p.m.

This oversized card was signed by all those on hand for the Golden Boot award presentation to Bobby Hoy at Northridge Hospital on Jan. 28.

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Western movie and television legend Robert F. "Bobby" Hoy, who appeared in many productions shot on location in the Santa Clarita Valley, died Monday morning at Northridge Hospital Medical Center after a six-month battle with cancer. He was 82.

Kiva Hoy, his wife of 22 years, was at his bedside.

"My fervent wish was to be holding him in my arms when and if he ever left, and that was granted," she said.

Just days before, Hoy, a resident of Sherman Oaks, Calif., was honored with the prestigious Golden Boot award by the Motion Picture & Television Fund, commemorating his contribution to the genre of Western television and movies in all three award categories -- acting, stunt work and directing.

In addition to his widow, Hoy is survived by a son, Christopher Hoy, 45, a resident of Bali, Indonesia, and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by a sister, Mary Ann, who died in 1962.

Born Robert Francis Hoy in New York City, he was raised by his mother, a lingerie manufacturer, after his parents divorced. At age 7, he was working on a ranch part-time. Near the end of World War II, he joined the Marines, and after the war worked on a ranch in Nevada.

Hoy made his Western film debut in 1950's "Ambush." In his 57-year career as an actor, Hoy played a wide variety of movie and television roles ranging from cowboys to spies. He was best-known for his role as ranch hand Joe Butler on "The High Chaparral," a TV western that aired four seasons from 1967 to 1971.

His acting roles in more than 67 films included "Bite the Bullet," "The Outlaw Josey Wales," The "Legend of the Lone Ranger," "The Gambler II," "Nevada Smith," "Bronco Billy," "The Enforcer" and "The Great Race."

On the small screen, Hoy appeared in more than 75 TV programs in addition to "The High Chapparal," including "Wanted: Dead or Alive," "Walker: Texas Ranger," "JAG," "Dallas" (recurring role), "The Wild, Wild West," "Magnum P.I." (five episodes), "The Young Riders" and "Zorro."

Hoy's most recent on-screen appearance was a brief part in the "Lost and Found" episode of the CBS TV series "NCIS" in 2007.

Behind the camera, Hoy was second unit director and stunt coordinator in Spain for the 1990s TV series "Zorro" and on the pilot of "The Three Musketeers."

In more than 100 appearances as stuntman, Hoy specialized in horse work, although he was also called upon to double in fight scenes, do car work and handle high falls.

He doubled for stars such as Tony Curtis, Charles Bronson, Audie Murphy, Tyrone Power, David Janssen, Telly Savalas and Jay Silverheels, among many others.

Hoy performed stunts for "The Lone Ranger," "The Defiant Ones," "Spartacus," "Operation Petticoat," "River of No Return," "To Hell and Back," "Revenge of the Creature from the Black Lagoon" and many more films and TV shows.

"Bobby was one of the rare stuntmen who also became an actor," Kiva Hoy said Monday. "He was more and more in demand as an actor as his (stunt) career progressed. People started calling him for roles, not just stunts. He was very much the reluctant actor, along the lines of (Academy Award-winner) Richard Farnsworth."

Hoy had many long-term connections in the film industry, including the late Jack Williams, another stuntman and actor who worked extensively on SCV locations and received the Golden Boot award in 1999.

Hoy and Williams were founding members of The Stuntmen's Association of Motion Pictures in 1961. The organization awarded Hoy its Lifetime Achievement award in August 2009, in recognition for his "extraordinary achievements and dedication to excellence."

Hoy was also a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, the Directors Guild of America, AFTRA and the Screen Actors Guild.

A private memorial service was pending at press time, Kiva Hoy said.

Signal Interns Paige Hagen and Joel Rosario and Hoy Webmaster Ginny Shook contributed to this story.

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The Last Golden Boot
Actor Robert Fuller, a 1989 Golden Boot recipient, his wife Jennifer Savidge Fuller and actor Peter Brown represented the Golden Boot committee as they presented the 2010 award to their longtime friend on Thursday, Jan. 28 in the penthouse suite at Northridge Hospital. More than 60 friends and cohorts gave Hoy a standing ovation.

It marked the first time the Golden Boot was given to an honoree in the hospital, and the last time the award would be presented. The annual award and its related induction event ended in 2007; there were no honorees in 2008 or 2009.

Among the many others also hand to honor Hoy were Dick Jones, Wyatt McCrea, Gregg Balmer, Bruce Boxleitner, Andrew Prine, Heather Lowe, John Strong, Morgan Woodward, Martin Kove, Dave Snowden, Billy Burton, Terry Leonard, Diane McClure (Doug's widow) and Rob Word.

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INTERVIEW -- Kent McCray
Producer Kent McCray, renowned for his work on "The High Chaparral," "Bonanza" and "Little House on the Prairie," knew Bobby Hoy personally and professionally for half a century. The Signal spoke with McCray Wednesday, Feb. 17.

Signal: Please describe your relationship with Bobby -- how you met him, the things you worked on with him and the kind of person he was.

McCray: Well, we go way back, actually. I first met Bobby when he was the stuntman on a pilot I was shooting in 1960, "The Outlaws," a Western we shot at M-G-M Studios. From that point on, we became good friends, and he worked later on quite a few "Outlaws" episodes.

In 1966, Bobby worked on some "Bonanza" episodes I was on, and then he did "The High Chaparral." He was one of the bunkhouse gang and had a speaking part as well as doing stunts. Later he did some stunt work and acting on "Little House on the Prairie." So I knew Bobby for quite a number of years.

And I have to say, everything Bobby Hoy did, he did well. There wasn't a thing he didn't know about horses. Any actor who was in the scene with him was protected, because he would talk to the actors and the director. Bobby knew horses, how they would react to different things. He grew up on a ranch and always loved horses, and it showed. He respected horses as much as he did any actor.

When Bob Fuller presented the Golden Boot to Bobby in the hospital, he said when Bobby Hoy was on the set, you knew everything with the horses and the stunts was going to run smoothly. And for an actor or director to say that I think is a credit by itself.

Bobby was a professional every minute he was on a set, and he was a wonderful man. I always respected him a great deal.

Signal: There was, and is still, a great camaraderie between the stunt guys. Jack Williams was a friend of mine and spoke quite highly of Bobby.

McCray: Bobby and Jack Williams were founders of the Stuntmen's Association. Stuntmen are a breed among themselves, and i t's just uncanny how they work together. Each person in a scene knows what the other is doing. It's all choreographed, as you know. Bobby was one of the masters of doing that. He was actually a second unit director on "Zorro" and you don't get that position by not knowing your craft.

Signal: When was the last time you worked with Bobby?

KM: I think it was on "Little House." He and Don Collier came to Sonora and did an acting job for us. That was some years back, but we remained friends throughout the years of "High Chaparral" and after. I loved that show - one of my favorite shows that I worked on. We all remained friends after that show.

Signal: I always thought "The High Chaparral" was among the highest quality TV Westerns, several cuts above in terms of production values, storylines, acting and everything else.

KM: Well, I kind of called it my baby because it was one of the first ones. I knew about it ‘cause I was working on "Bonanza." Bill Claxton and I were one of the first ones to read the ("The High Chaparral" pilot) script. We both read it and said we got to get home and start working on this script, because this is a hell of a script. It turned out to be quite a pilot.

SKP: Did you hire Bobby for "The High Chaparral"?

KM: Actually, David Dortort hired him. He was creator of both "Bonanza" and "High Chaparral." David had worked with Bobby on "Bonanza." He saw his dailies everyday and knew his ability and wanted him in "High Chaparral." David called Bobby up to his office and said, "We're writing a script and I want you to be an actor/stuntman in the show." So Bobby had the part as it was being written.

Signal: Any other comments?

KM: I have to keep saying that Bobby's a wonderful, wonderful person. He was. He loved people and his craft more than anything -- other than being a Marine. He always said that being a Marine and being a stunt person was his life. He had the same ability as a stuntman that he had with the Marines -- you protect your own. And he did protect everybody.

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