WBUR

A Remembrance: Boston Cowboy Rex Trailer

Rex Trailer, the beloved former host of a Boston-based children’s TV show, died Wednesday night at the age of 84. WBUR’s Steve Brown offers this remembrance.

In this 1972 photo provided by Rex Trailer Productions & Digital Freeway, Rex Trailer poses with his horse in Boston. (Peter Benjamin/AP)

In this 1972 photo provided by Rex Trailer Productions & Digital Freeway, Rex Trailer poses with his horse in Boston. (Peter Benjamin/AP)

Rex Trailer had long been a legend on Boston TV, even when I first started watching him in the mid-1960s.

Rex galloped into town on his horse Goldrush in 1956, and for nearly 20 years as the host of “Boomtown” he was a familiar face on console TVs from Portsmouth to Provincetown, Scituate to Shrewsbury, and every city and town in between.

This was the time when kid show hosts on local TV were larger-than-life figures.

And when Rex wasn’t on your Zenith on Saturday or Sunday morning, chances were he was coming to a parade or a fair near you.

One of my first in-person encounters with Rex was at the Brockton Fair, probably around 1970 or ’71. He chose me out of the audience to help him demonstrate his skill with a bullwhip.

Rex rolled up a section of The Brockton Enterprise and tucked it in my back pocket. Then, with a deafening crack, he plucked the paper out of my pocket with the whip.

The crowd went wild.

About 10 years later, I crossed paths with Rex again, this time at Emerson College, where he taught TV production and performance.

For local kids like me, having Rex as your teacher was a huge thrill. My classmates who didn’t grow up in the area just couldn’t quite understand why we were starstruck by this man with the western cut shirts and bolo tie.

Rex was a great teacher, not to mention an easy “A.”

Fast forward to 1996. Rex co-hosted a magazine show on NECN I produced aimed at senior citizens.

At first, I didn’t get it. Why was the host of a kid’s show now on a show for older folks?

Then it dawned on me.

The audience watching Rex talk about senior travel and health issues in the ’90s was made up of the same “kids” who watched “Boomtown” in the ’50s and ’60s.

We had grown up, but Rex was still the affable cowboy with the Texas drawl from our youth.

Happy trails, Rex. Thanks for all you’ve done, and thanks for Saturday and Sunday mornings.

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