|Above: Michael Bavaro (left) and Rex Trailer with his prized guns recently in Northborough. Below: Trailer on the set in 1955. (Michael Calarese)|
At 83, TV cowboy Rex Trailer rides on
Yesterday was Rex Trailer’s 83d birthday, and it should surprise no one that the tirelessly cheerful TV cowboy is still at it.
“In one day, I got a year older,’’ Trailer told us with a little laugh.
The host of “Boomtown,’’ the western-themed children’s show that entertained generations of wannabe buckaroos, is in an especially good mood because he’s recovered some of the guns he used on the show. The single-action revolvers, which Trailer retired from his act after President Kennedy was shot, were just about to be auctioned.
Trailer was able to track down the artifacts with the help of his friend Michael Bavaro, a filmmaker whose 2005 documentary, “Rex Trailer’s Boomtown,’’ featured the likes of Jay Leno, Steven Wright, and Jimmy Tingle. Quite by accident, Bavaro discovered that the gun shop in Waltham where Trailer stored the antique firearms had gone out of business.
“We did some research and found the owner, who said the guns were going to be auctioned in five days,’’ said Bavaro. “Unfortunately, three rifles that belonged to Rex had already been auctioned.’’
Trailer, whose show aired on WBZ-TV from 1956-1974, was an all-purpose cowpoke - singing, playing guitar, riding horses, doing rope tricks, and, of course, spinning and shooting guns. But he banished weapons from the “friendliest western town on TV’’ after JFK’s assassination in 1963.
“Lee Harvey Oswald didn’t use a cowboy pistol, by any means, but I didn’t want to stimulate kids’s interest in firearms anymore,’’ said Trailer. “I had a lot more things to do on the show, anyway.’’
So what will become of Trailer’s vintage guns? The three .45-caliber revolvers with the staghorn handles have been donated to the Massachusetts State Police Museum in Grafton. (Among the other items at the museum, which used to be a State Police barracks, are guns that belonged to Sacco and Vanzetti, the anarchists famously, and perhaps wrongly, convicted and executed for the murder of two men during a 1920 robbery in South Braintree.)
“I planned on doing something like this, but the museum hadn’t come into existence,’’ said Trailer. “When I found out about it, I thought, ‘This is the place for them.’ ’’
Otherwise, everyone’s favorite television cowboy is staying busy. Still a professor at Emerson College, Trailer has a production company in Waltham and makes occasional public appearances. Monday, he and Bavaro will be at the South Boston Historical Society to screen “Rex Trailer’s Boomtown.’’