Mr. Hamm

Gary Leach bangfish at
Sat Apr 7 19:20:54 CEST 2012

Your info seems pretty conclusive as to the "inspiration" for Wild Bill Hamm, Ole. I would, however, like to add an additional wrinkle to how that name might have come about.

I refer to the term "ham hock", an item with which Barks would have been very familiar from his earliest years. As a play on words, Wild Bill Ham Hock would have been a natural for Wild Bill Hickok, had Barks been dealing in historical figures rather than actors. Still, Elliott's close association with Hickok--as your info says, he played him a dozen times--was no doubt known to Barks, and between that and Elliott also no doubt being seen as a bit of a "ham" might very well have been what cemented the use of that appellation.

Merest speculation, I know, but that's what contemplating the creative impulse is all about!


On Apr 7, 2012, at 3:13 AM, dcml-request at wrote:

> It makes little sense for this to be a reference to Wild Bill Hickok,
> who died a lifetime before, in the context of spoofing famous current
> actors. More likely the reference is to (Wild) Bill Elliott, who
> starred in various westerns and the popular serials shown alongside
> the lead features at movie theatres at the time. See
> and (search for
> Wild Bill Elliott: a complete filmography).
> The 'wild' epithet came along after Elliott played the role Wild Bill
> Saunders three times. then Wild Bill Hickok a dozen times between 1940
> and 1942, followed by one appearance as Wild Bill Tolliver. He would
> then star in eight serials under the character name Wild Bill Elliott
> between 1943-1944, the last of which, Hidden Valley Outlaws, premiered
> on April 2nd 1944.
> One can speculate that his rise to stardom may have affected his self
> image, and by anyone but the matinee audience of children (remember
> the Barks one-pager?) he would be considered a "ham".
> He went on to portray the Red Ryder in sixteen more appearances, and
> star in his own comics series between 1950 and 1955. The next year Red
> Ryder Comics too folded, and the golden age of the western was over.
> Elliott's last five movies, 1955-1957, starred him as a police
> lieutenant in modern Los Angeles.
> I hope this info from the Interwebs is helpful.
> - Ole

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