Trusted local news leader for Kingman, Arizona & Mohave County
Tue, July 16

Beloved cowboy actor Andy Devine spent childhood and teen years in Kingman

Many people recall Andy Devine as he appeared in movies and on television - a lovable cowboy who spoke with a gravely voice - but some Kingman residents knew Devine during the time he lived with his family at the Hotel Beale, which they owned from 1906 until 1925.

In an interview in 1999, a year before she died, long-time Kingman resident Mae McMullen spoke fondly of the Andy Devine she knew.

Her brother was Andy's friend, which brought her into close proximity with the future radio, television and film star.

"The Devine family, including two boys and a girl, were not what you'd call a society family, but working-class people, and young Andy liked to play pranks and tease," McMullen said.

"He was a bottomless pit as far as eating and drinking.

He was always ready."

When Devine was about 9 years old he was running with a curtain rod and fell.

It stuck in his throat.

From that day on, "he had that gravel voice," Hazel Mulligan Ehrsam explained in an article written by Kingman writer Laurette Guthrie.

Devine liked to play practical jokes at the Hotel Beale.

Among the clientele at the hotel were salesmen, or drummers as they were called in those days.

They used to park their satchels near the front door and play pool while waiting for the train.

"One time Andy took hammer and nails and nailed the satchels to the floor and then shouted, 'Train's a leavin.' The drummers make a mad dash for the door, grabbed their satchels, but the bottoms plus the contents stayed on the floor as they hurriedly jerked up on the handles," McMullen said.

But mostly, Devine was just a regular kid, going to "The Little Red Schoolhouse," playing ball and marbles, or playing at the Beecher's, his married sister's house with all the other kids; and going to the movies at night.

"I don't think there was a movie he ever missed," McMullen said.

"He helped Mrs.

Lang take tickets and after the people all left the show at night he cleaned and raked out the theater.

"He thought that was a big deal."

After leaving Kingman, Devine attended Santa Clara University, playing football, and then, in 1925, played professionally for the Los Angeles Angels.

In 1926 Devine was in silent two-reel comedy movies, and his career took off from there.

The childhood injury that damaged his larynx turned out to be an advantage, giving him a distinctive gravely voice.

Devine enjoyed success on the stage and in films, acting in close to 400 movies.

He played the character "Cookie Bullfincher" in nine movies and throughout his career played the comic relief roles in musicals, westerns and even a couple of gangster movies.

The role that gave him the most notoriety, however, was that of "Jingles" in the successful television series "Wild Bill Hickok."

In 1933 Devine met actress Dorothy "Doagie" House.

The couple married soon after and later had two sons - Tad and Dennis.

Devine never forgot the people he grew up with, McMullen said.

At a banquet in his honor at the Mohave Museum of History and Arts in 1970, Devine spotted McMullen.

"I said, 'Hi,' he looked up, let out a roar and jumped up and kissed me," McMullen said.

Another time when Devine was riding in a parade he saw a woman he knew from Oatman and jumped out of his car to greet her.

To the woman's delight he asked her to ride in the parade with him, McMullen said.

Devine was diagnosed with diabetes in 1957 and in 1973 contracted leukemia, according to information from the Mohave Museum of History and Arts.

He died of cardiac arrest on Feb.

18, 1977.


This Week's Circulars

To view money-saving ads

For as little as $3.49*