Rex Trailer, host of ‘Boomtown’ TV show, dies at 84

for Names - 17names - With Dragnet's Jack Webb on the set of Rex Trailer's Ranch House on WPTZ in Philadelphia, 1955. (Courtesy of The Rex Trailer Collection)
Rex Trailer in 1955Credit: The Rex Trailer Collection

Rex Trailer, host of “Boomtown,” a Western-themed children’s TV show that beguiled generations of New England children, has died, according to an announcement posted on his website.

“Rex Trailer left this earth peacefully last night surrounded in love and song by his family. Rex had been in Florida for the holidays when he became ill into the New Year. While everyone’s prayers and support have been of great comfort to Rex, he decided it was time to go home. Rex and family thank all of you and love you,” said the announcement, which was dated today.

The site said a memorial service was being planned for the “near future” and the family requested privacy.

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The Globe reported in early January that Trailer, 84, was recovering from a bout of pneumonia.

“Sad day for all of us ‘Boomtown’ lovers,” WBZ-AM radio anchor Ben Parker said in a tweet. “RIP Rex. Glad I got to work with you!”

“Rex Trailer’s Boomtown” premiered on WBZ-TV in Boston in 1956. It ran until 1974. The show included cartoons, educational games, and outdoor adventures. Trailer showed off cowboy tricks he learned when he was growing up in Texas.

Trailer brought children with disabilities on his program. In 1959, he led a wagon train across Massachusetts to raise awareness about children with disabilities.

The show was a weekend morning fixture on local TV. Trailer made more than 1,000 episodes. A filmmaker who made a documentary about the show estimated that more than 4 million baby boomers grew up watching it and nearly 250,000 appeared in the show’s live audiences, the Globe reported in 2004.

Trailer’s young fans once included Jay Leno, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, Barry (Jordan’s Furniture) Tatelman, and Jimmy Tingle.

“Rex had a 13-week contract for the show when he came here, and it lasted almost 20 years,” said Mike Bavaro, who filmed a documentary about Trailer and later became his business partner and friend.

“The key thing about Rex is that, with kids and young people, he never talked down to them. He always treated them with respect as if they were adults, and I think that’s what kids want the most,” Bavaro said in a statement released by Emerson College, where Trailer began teaching broadcasting after Boomtown went off the air.

Trailer, a resident of Sudbury, starred in other shows in the 1970s, including “Earth Lab” and “The Good Time Gang,” the statement said.

Trailer also owned a television production studio in Waltham, Rex Trailer Video Productions, in Waltham for more than 50 years.

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