In Memory of Robert F. Hoy

Western movie and television legend Robert F. "Bobby" Hoy, High Chaparral's beloved Joe Butler, died Monday February 8th at Northridge Hospital after a six-month battle with cancer. He was 82.

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

Bob Hoy obituaryReprinted from the Chicago Tribune, February 11, 2010

The performer, known for his natural ability with horses, co-founded the Stuntmen's Assn. of Motion Pictures. He received the Golden Boot for his contributions to the western genre.

Bobby Hoy, a renowned stuntman who also acted, most memorably as a ranch hand on the television series "The High Chaparral," has died. He was 82.

Hoy, who co-founded the Stuntmen's Assn. of Motion Pictures, died Monday at Northridge Hospital Medical Center from cancer, said his wife, Kiva. He lived in Sherman Oaks.

The New York City native was known in Hollywood for his natural ability with horses, a talent nurtured during a childhood often spent on a ranch in the Catskill Mountains.

"He just knew what to do with horses," said Kent McCray, a producer who first hired Hoy in 1960 for the TV series "Bonanza" then worked with him as a stuntman-actor on "The High Chaparral," which aired from 1967 to 1971.

"As an actor, he was always relaxed and knew what he was doing," McCray told The Times. "He was wonderful, always looking out for everybody."

Film historian Alan K. Rode said Hoy "really was one of the few stuntmen who made the transition to acting who was comfortable doing both."

From 1949 to 2005, Hoy acted and performed stunts in more than 150 film and television productions.

Bob HoyHe appeared "in just about every western television series over the last half-century," including creating the role of Joe Butler on "The High Chaparral," Rode said.

On the set of the 1960 film "Spartacus," Kirk Douglas accidentally cracked one of Hoy's ribs when he rammed a fake sword into the stuntman's side. While hanging upside-down on the 1980s TV series "Magnum, P.I.," Hoy broke his leg and ankle during a stunt.

"I recovered and got back to work. I didn't think twice about it," Hoy told The Times in 2008. "That's just part of the business."

His most dangerous stunt was accomplished in a fast-moving river current for the 1958 film "The Defiant Ones," Hoy later recalled.

As the stunt double for Tony Curtis, Hoy navigated the Kern River rapids while chained to Ivan Dixon, who was Sidney Poitier's double in the film about two shackled prisoners on the run.

"We were just passengers" in the hazard-filled water; "there was no element of control," Hoy told Leatherneck Magazine of the Marines in 2002. "All we could do was try to stay alive, but it all looked great on film."

In an interview with Turner Classic Movies, Curtis called Hoy “an excellent stuntman” and acknowledged their resemblance. They also worked together on the 1959 movie "Operation Petticoat."

In 1961, Hoy co-founded the Stuntmen’s Assn., which helped professionalize stunts, according to its website.

bob hoyFor the 1990s TV series "Zorro," Hoy stepped behind the camera as a second-unit director and stunt coordinator in Spain.

Days before he died, Hoy received the Golden Boot, an award given by the Motion Picture & Television Fund to those who have made significant contributions to the western genre.

"Bobby Hoy brought joy to everyone around him," said actor Wilford Brimley, a close friend who worked with Hoy in movies and the 1980s TV series "Our House." "He certainly left the world a better place than he found it."

Robert Francis Hoy was born in 1927 and raised by his mother after his parents divorced. His mother, Elizabeth, was a lingerie manufacturer. He also had a sister, Mary Ann, who died in 1962.

Hoy started working part time on a ranch at age 7 and stopped only when he joined the Marines near the end of World War II. He helped deliver home former prisoners of war.

In 1946, he took a job as a cowboy on a Nevada ranch. A few years later, he was jumping horses over high fences for his first western, "Ambush."

Whether on his lapel or hat, Hoy always wore two pins: One honored the Marines, the other the fraternity of stuntmen.

Besides Kiva, his wife of 22 years, Hoy is survived by his son, Christopher, of Bali, Indonesia.

Bob Hoy tribute video

Tribute video to Bob Hoy

The Last Golden Boot

Actor Robert Fuller, a 1989 Golden Boot recipient, represented the Golden Boot committee as he presented the 2010 award to his longtime friend on Thursday, Jan. 28 in the penthouse suite at Northridge Hospital, as 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 those on hand to honor Hoy were Dick Jones, Kent and Susan McCray, Wyatt McCrea, Gregg Palmer, Bruce Boxleitner, Andrew Prine, Heather Lowe, John Strong, Morgan Woodward, Jennifer Savidge (Fuller's wife), Martin Kove, Peter Brown, Dave Snowden, Billy Burton, Terry Leonard, Diane McClure (Doug's widow), Bo Hopkins, Robert Forster, William Smith, stunt legend Terry Leonard, Max Kleven, Walter Scott, George Wilbur, Larry Holt, Jeff Ramsey, Rob Word, Myra MacKay, and Mark Donaldson.

Interviews with Bob Hoy

On September 18, 2007, Bob talked with his dear friend Susan McCray on Getting to Know You.

Bob Hoy and Susan McCray

Bob Hoy and Susan McCray

(click to download)
Bob Hoy's Interview with Susan McCray on Getting to Know You


(click to download)
Don Collier talks about he and Bobby Hoy on location in Big Bear....and joke played
on Kent McCray that went wrong.


(click to download)
Stuntmen of The High Chaparral, with Bob Hoy


(click to download)
Bob Hoy talks about the U.S. Marines

For Bobby

Bob HoyAs you all may know, Kent and I worked with and loved our dear friend, actor/stuntman Bob Hoy for many years. Kent has known Bob Hoy for fifty years. I have known him for 43 years. Our love and admiration for Bob is hard to put into words.

Monday morning, February 8th, at approximately 5:30 a.m., Bob lost his courageous battle with lung cancer. His loving wife Kiva was with him as she always was. I thank all of you for your thoughts and prayers on behalf of Bob and Kiva. Bob was a great friend and the best stuntman that ever rode the range. He will be alive in our hearts forever. May God bless his soul.

~Susan McCray

This is for Bobby.

Bobby Hoy was a wonderful human being. A joy to be around. He will be missed by many. I will always remember him as one of the distinct pleasures I enjoyed while been part of the cast of The High Chaparral.

~Linda Cristal ("Victoria Cannon")

I will always be grateful to Bobby for being there in my beginning, showing me the good, the bad, and how to look sober when your Executive Producer walks into the same bar while you are on location!!!
Love U Bobby.

~Rudy Ramos ("Wind")

Remembering Mr. Hoy

by Penny McQueen

A friend of mine died this week and my world lost some color. Bob Hoy filled a lot of roles in a 55 year Hollywood career - stuntman, actor, director, founder of the Stuntman’s Association – and was best known as Joe Butler, ranch hand on The High Chaparral. He was a cowboy, a horseman who didn’t need to whisper, and a straight-backed U.S. Marine, something you instinctively knew in five minutes despite his considerable charm. The first time I met him I made the mistake of calling him Mr. Hoy. “Mr. Hoy is my father,” he growled, pitching the words sideways. “Call me Bobby.” Like a raw recruit I obeyed, because Bobby didn’t suffer any fools and I never wanted to be one in front of him.

Bob Hoy and friends
Bob Hoy with his 'bunkhouse gang' in Portsmouth, Ohio, 2007. Front row: Bob Hoy, Penny McQueen, Ginny Shook. Back row: Jan Pippins, Ted Markland.

Bobby was a tougher version of Tony Curtis – waves of black hair, knife-like jawline and the ability to wear chaps like a second skin. He taught pretty-boy screen idols how to sit a horse, drank fishbowls of whiskey, dove off rooftops into cardboard boxes, all with Hollywood screen magic and a stuntman’s earthy practicality. In his late 70’s when we met, he’d long given up barrooms and high dives but retained a mop of silver hair and arresting brown eyes full of the devil. I teased him once, said he was lucky I didn’t meet him at 40. He flashed an over-baked movie-star handsome pose, brushed his silver moustache and said, ‘McQueen, what makes you think you’re good enough for me?”

Unfailingly kind to rabid fans, he indulged me when I asked him for an introduction, and ask him I did. He knew everyone – actors, directors, producers, stuntmen – and he was a legend, universally respected. I’d whine, “Bobby, I want to meet Famous Mr. Dreamy,” he’d grab my hand, we’d bypass hordes of slavering ex-teenage fans and march to the front of the line. Chances were he’d taught Mr. Dreamy how not to fall off a horse, doubled him in a dangerous take or demonstrated the youthful folly of drawing to an inside straight. So when Bob Hoy came dragging an unknown and said, ‘Hey, you need to meet McQueen, she’s our special friend,” the waters parted, hugs were offered, hands and more kissed.

He transitioned to acting back in the 70’s but never gave up stunt work. He tumbled off horses, crashed cars, jumped off buildings, dangled from helicopters, directed second units on location. At a western event I piled celebrities into a car for transport to dinner, discovered we were short on seats so hopped into the oversized hatchback. Mr. Hoy – I mean Bobby – boiled out of the front seat, furious. The stunt was unplanned and dangerous. There were no safety straps. My head was too high for the door to close. Where was the radio and mic for safety checks? We were a bunch of censored amateurs. Arms wrapped around my knees in the hatch of the car, I looked up and asked, “Does this mean I’ve been directed in a stunt by the famous Bob Hoy?”

Bob Hoy and friends sing She Wore a Yellow Ribbon
Ted Markland, Ginny Shook, Penny McQueen, Bob Hoy and Jan Pippins in 2007

“Only if you keep your goddamned head down,” he said, checking the fit and refusing to board until closing the door. We didn’t have the required director to stuntwoman radio but he made do with regular check-in shouts, then freed me himself, hand resting on my head so I didn’t knock myself out and require a medic.

Waiting in line for a celebrity dinner late one evening he grew bored playing the movie game of quoting lines from classic cinema while we guessed the title. Tired of winning he started singing, “In her hair she wore a yellow ribbon.” Soon the five of us were belting out She Wore a Yellow Ribbon while Bobby marched infantry steps, laughing when he substituted off-color lines under his breath, his public face innocent as a five year old. Fans gathered, cameras flashed. I have the photo in my office, a magic, unplanned moment and I hear his counterpoint baritone to my soprano when I look at it. “Cavalry. Cavalry. She wore it for her lover in the U.S. Cavalry.”

Bob Hoy and friends sing She Wore a Yellow Ribbon
Bob and Kiva Hoy

The acting profession is not always kind; unemployment looms with every paycheck. Over the years Bobby made hundreds of ‘Buck up, soldier’ calls to out of work actors and stuntmen. During a corporate power shuffle I lost my job. One of those jobs you love like a bad boyfriend but can’t bring yourself to leave because he’s so charming. Dazed and aimless, I received a cut to the chase phone call. “What the hell happened?” Robert wanted details, threatened to bring the bunkhouse boys on a raid, then ordered, “Listen Doll, don’t ever let the bastards get you.”

Bobby never let the cancer bastard get him. At 82 his sturdy body just got too tired to keep up the fight.

My friend died this week and the world lost some color. Goodbye Bobby. I promise to sing She Wore a Yellow Ribbon for absolutely no reason, to keep my goddamned head down and to never let the bastards get me. I’ll always miss you.

Bob Hoy Takes Pay Cut to Get Job as Actor

Bob HoyWire article, 1967

Bob Hoy is a member of the regular cast of the NBC television network’s new “The High Chaparral” color series, but he had to take a pay cut to get the job. Hoy, one of the top stuntmen in Hollywood for the past 10 years, decided he wanted to take a shot at acting as a career, and producer David Dortort gave him his chance when he signed him to portray Joe, one of John Cannon’s ranch hands on the High Chaparral.

“Hollywood is a land of illusion,” explains Bob. “They pay good money and put in plenty of hard work to make the viewer think that what he is seeing really happened. If the man who was hired to fall off a horse in place of John Wayne starts shooting off his mouth about how he did the fall while Wayne sat and watched, it disillusions the viewers.”

Bob HoyWas Stuntman

How says that a good, dependable stuntman can make 40 or 50 thousand dollars a year – but no matter how good he is, he’ll be out of work if he doesn’t hold his tongue! “The best men in the business are almost completely unknown by Hollywood reporters. They come to work, draw their assignment, settle on a price for doing it, do it, open their wallet – and shut their mouth.”

“Whenever a star decides that he’ll do his own fall a hundred people hold their breath and cross their fingers,” says Hoy. “If the star cracks his head it means that all of those people are out of work until he gets better. If a stuntman breaks a leg they just call in another stuntman.”

Now that Hoy is an actor he doesn’t do his own stunts any more. A stuntman has been hired to do his dangerous work.


Wanted: Daring Young Stunt Men

August 12, 1967, UPI

Bob Hoy Stunt photoHollywood: wanted: young men in their 20s willing to fall off 30-foot cliffs, crash autos head-on, dive off horses at full speed, bare-knuckle fist fight and tip-toe through explosions.

It’s all yours if you can qualify and you don’t need a college degree. In fact, you’re better off with no education at all. The pay is good, as much as $30,000 a year. But work can be sporadic.

Stunt Man is the name of the most dangerous profession outside of the Green Berets. Broken legs, fractured skulls, burns, contusions and cuts are the badges of the profession. It’s no wonder then that some stunt men turn to easier pursuits. Acting, for instance.

Bob Hoy is one of those who jumped the fence for a co-starring role in NBC-TV’s new horse opera, “High Chaparral,” produced by David Dortort, the self-same producer of “Bonanza.”

Bob Hoy stunt photoHoy is a rugged, daring rascal who has been a stunt man since 1949, as has the scars to prove it. He’s takin an economic beating in switching jobs, but there’s always a chance he could make it big as an actor.

"I’m not the only stunt man to go this route, “ he said. “Jack Mahoney was a stunt man and so were Terry Wilson and the late Frank McGrath of the old ‘Wagon Train’ series. But most stunt men freeze up when they have to act. It’s an entirely different business.” According to Hoy it takes eight years for a stunt man to gain the versatility to work regularly. In addition to fight scenes, a good stunt man works with explosives, duels with swords, handles horseflesh, auto wrecks, and probably most important, high falls.

At the moment there are 106 members of the Stuntmen’s Association of Motion Pictures. The average age is up in the 30s. “We bring along the new ones very slowly,” Hoy explained. “If there’s a call for 10 stunt men, we’ll bring along one novice and teach him as we go. You have to be able to blue-print an accident so it won’t look rehearsed. And you have to fall without looking down. It takes practice and precision.”

Hoy enjoys acting as much as stunt work and believes his exposure to Laurence Olivier, Cary Grant, Spencer Tracy and other acting greats on hundreds of sets provided a better training ground for performing than all the acting schools put together.

“The stunt men on this new series really put me on,” Hoy concluded. “I have a natural instinct to do my own stunts, but one accident and I blow the acting role. So the boys take over and zap me pretty good about becoming an actor. Who knows, I may go back to stunt work one of these days.”

Bobby Hoy discusses stunts

High Chaparral's Bob Hoy (Joe Butler) and stuntmen Tony Brubaker and Loren Janes discuss how to stage a convincing fight scene in this Turner Classic Movie original featurette that includes clips of Breakheart Pass (1976) and other films.

The Disabled Veterans National Foundation works tirelessly every day to help ensure that the men and women who served our country are getting the proper services they are entitled to. Through DVNF, you can help get veterans benefits, counseling, and direct care. Bob Hoy was a long-time supporter of the DVNF. If you wish to make a memorial contribution here is the information:

Thank you for contacting the Disabled Veterans National Foundation regarding information for donations.  We are very sorry to hear about your friend Robert F. Hoy and send our deepest condolences.   

Donations can be received through the mail at PO Box 996648 Washington DC 20009-6648 or through our website at  Thank you for helping us to continue our work in support of veterans.  We believe that through the work of this wonderful organization, we can all enrich the lives of many of these heroes who need our help the most.  
We are stewards of the money that our donors send us and we feel compelled to use it as they intended…to assist the men and women whose lives were forever changed in service to our country and express America’s gratitude for their service.  Our donors are crucial to DVNF efforts in helping our veterans and their families.   
Once again thank you for your interest in donating to DVNF in memory of your dear friend and contacting us. Please do not hesitate to call our administrative office with any additional questions or concerns you may have.  I can be reached during normal business hours at 240.479.2910.

Raegan Rivers
Disabled Veterans National Foundation
(240) 479-2910  

Our sincere condolences go out to Kiva and Chris Hoy.
You are in our thoughts and prayers.

Bob Hoy's Website