BOSTON (AP) — Rex Trailer, the native Texan beloved by a generation of New England children for the cowboy skills he demonstrated on the Boston-based television show "Boomtown," has died. He was 84.
Trailer died Wednesday at his family's home in Florida, said his friend and manager Michael Bavaro. He had fallen ill with pneumonia in Florida over the holidays, but the exact cause of death was not immediately clear.
"Rex Trailer left this earth peacefully last night surrounded in love and song by his family," the family announced on his website. "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."
"Boomtown" ran on Boston television from 1956 until 1974. Trailer hosted the show, singing, playing guitar and showing off the horse-riding, roping and other cowboy skills he had learned as a boy on his grandfather's ranch in Texas.
Trailer lived in Rockport for a time while "Boomtown" was on the air.
The show was an instant success when it first aired, the live studio audience enraptured by Trailer's Texas twang. It aired live every Saturday and Sunday morning for three hours. More than 250,000 kids appeared on "Boomtown" over the years and more than 4 million watched from home, according to the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame. Trailer was inducted in 2007.
In addition to the cowboy action, the show offered educational games and films, cartoons and outdoor adventure.
"He was a visionary in a lot of ways," Bavaro said. "He was doing educational children's television before there was educational children's television."
The show was one of the first where mentally and physically disabled children were prominent in the audience, a conscious decision by Trailer.