By Aline Mosby
Hollywood, June 21,–Gene Autry, newest of the big-name TV cowboy heroes, whipped out his trusty television set today to fire away at that old stand-by Hopalong Cassidy.
Autry figures Hoppy was able to corral all those kiddies into black cowboy suits “because when he started on television he didn’t have any competition”
Hoppy does now. Autry is the first hero of the celluloid sagebrush to make his own new movies for video. And last week he bought some land in Hollywood for a TV studio.
Autry hopes to win the battle for the bubble-gum set because his cat-bunners are made for the little screens.
“Hopalong had old pictures available to release for television, and mine weren’t available then and still aren’t,” Autry explained. “I decided it was more important to have new products on television, anyway, so I decided to make my own pictures for TV.
“You have to have more close shots and one close action for television.”
Autry long as sizzled the cash registers at the theater box offices, too. But Hoppy’s movies had to be reissued on television before he won the polls.
“Hoppy really has never been tough competition, Anyway,” I treat added “the box office results speak for themselves.”
Autry began making his television movies more than a year ago in Pioneertown, a community built just for video production. Theater men set up a howl heard round the Hollywood prairies.
They were upset a little bit because show business has been bad and the theaters were in trouble.” the cowboy said. “That was a year ago, and nothing much has happened. I went to a theater convention and talk to them and that quieted them.
“TV is only in large cities, anyway. And western movies don’t play often in big towns. They go in smaller towns, and those have no televisions. So my TV movies can’t hurt theater business for my regular pictures.”
Autry’s TV company turns out one half-hour movie every three days, or two a week. He stars in 26 TV movies a year and six full-length Columbia movies for theaters.
He also produces another TV movie series, is starting to the third, runs four ranches, does a weekly C.B.S. Radio show, owns two radio stations in Arizona, and is still offering the story of his life.