William Boyd — the actor who played Hopalong Cassidy — was a marketing maverick who bought up his old films and made a fortune selling toys, souvenirs and Western clothing.
Mosey on down to Hoppy's Cambridge, Ohio, hometown May 2 for the annual convention. More than 1,200 fans show up in black Stetson hats, red scarves and bolo ties. In Cambridge, there's a statue, a brick-lined sidewalk, and a scholarship in Boyd's honor.
"If you've got a Hopalong toy gun, it could be worth $1,800 to a collector," says Laura Bates, editor of the Hoppy Talk newsletter. "He did a lot of charitable work and made a lot of people happy. That's why people show up."
The Wizard of Oz — Like any job, life as a Munchkin had its ups and downs. Jerry Maren, now 83, says he only made $50 a week back in 1938 when the film was shot. But he's spent many years attending festivals and conventions that have taken him over the country, and on nostalgia cruises.
"The Oz phenomena has definitely been a good thing, so I don't knock the fans," says the 4-foot-3-inch actor, recalling that some fans will dress up as Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and even the Wicked Witch.
In the most celebrated moment in Maren's life, he welcomed Judy Garland to Oz, singing, "We represent the Lollipop Guild, the Lollipop Guild, the Lollipop Guild, and in the name of the Lollipop Guild, we welcome you to Munchkin Land."
Maren, a one-time child stand-in for Jerry Mathers on Leave It to Beaver's, later landed a gig as Mayor McCheese in McDonald's commercials. As for his ongoing membership in the Lollipop Guild, he says, "I never thought I'd still be doing this."
Buck Wolf is entertainment producer at ABCNEWS.com. The Wolf Files is published Tuesdays. If you want to receive weekly notice when a new column is published, join the e-mail list.