Who was Andy Devine?
Andy appeared in movies with the likes of John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart and Guy Madison. his most memorable work was the role of Jingles in the 1950's television program “The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok.”
Andy’s Father, Tom Devine worked for the Railroad in Flagstaff and lost a leg in a terrible accident in 1906. He used the settlement to purchase Hotel Beale in Kingman. A successful and community-minded businessman, Tom Devine was part of the Good Roads Association and helped solidify the Kingman alignment of National Old Trails Highway. This alignment eventually became part of Route 66.
Amy (Ward) Devine, Andy's mother, was community minded and educated. Prior to being married, she tutored the children of Nevada’s Governor. Amy was also a granddaughter of Commander James Ward, the first U.S. Naval Officer casualty in the Civil War.
Growing up in early Kingman
Andy was a mischievous youngster. On one occasion, a judge offered Andy and a friend fifty cents to rid him of a feral cat in a humane manner. The two boys came up with a plan involving the cat, a stash of dynamite and a long fuse. They lit the fuse and released the cat at the town dump. The cat, dynamite, fuse and all ran frantically and chased the two boys until eventually running under a woodshed. Boom!
On another occasion, while Andy was working at Beale Hotel, he nailed the hotel clients’ satchels to the floor. Among the clientele were many salesmen who had parked their satchels by the front door while waiting for the train. Andy shouted "Train's a leavin'!" and the salesmen made a dash, grabbing and ripping apart the satchels which were nailed firmly to the floor.
The Family Man
Andy Devine was introduced to his wife, Dorothy House, by Will Rogers. They were married in 1933 and had five children. Andy kept Hollywood life separate from family life. Andy told his boys that he would try to live his life not to embarrass them, if they would do the same for him.
The Big Screen
Andy Devine began his acting career by chance while standing on a street corner in Hollywood. His first pictures were silent films in the 1920’s. When movie goers preferred ‘talkies’, Devine’s career appeared to be over because of his squeaky dual-toned voice, the result of a child-hood accident. Andy once said “I’ve got the same nodes as Bing Crosby, but his are in tune.” His voice proved to be his best asset and it launched a successful run of comedic roles in films, on stage, over the radio and on television. His voice was insured by Lloyds of London for a half-a-million dollars.
Andy often played the sidekick or a comic relief role in musicals and westerns. Stagecoach (1939), Andy’s first A-movie in which he played the stage driver, boosted his career and brought him a lifelong friendship with John Wayne. Other notable appearances included sidekick "Cookie" to Roy Rogers in ten films, A Star Is Born (1937), Island in the Sky (1953), Around The World in 80 Days (1956), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) and Over The Hill Gang (1969).
Devine was also successful on radio and television, most notably as Guy Madison’s sidekick Jingles in Wild Bill Hickok. Years later, Andy was about to board a plane when a bomb was reported. Everyone’s luggage was inspected by an FBI agent before boarding. When the agent saw Andy, he passed him through saying, "If you can’t trust Jingles, who can you trust?” – certainly not the kid with dynamite and a long fuse!
Andy was cast in over 400 films and countless radio, stage and television appearances. Andy died of leukemia at 71 in 1977 and was buried in Corona Del Mar, CA. Andy's funeral reduced John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart to tears. Kingman renamed Route 66 “Andy Devine Avenue” and celebrates Andy Devine Days every September with a parade and Rodeo.
Karen Goudy, former curator of the Mohave Museum of History & Arts once wrote, “If we listen carefully on Andy Devine Days we may hear, above the hoopla and fanfare, a squeaky, raspy voice, saying, ‘I've got the best seat in the house’.”