There's not much doubt that Marshal Andy, aka Andy Smalls, is Knoxville's greatest singing cowboy, even if he has been the only one for the last 30-plus years. The Marshal Andy character started out as a sideline for Smalls at the Tennessee Valley Fair in 1971 and developed during shoot-'em-ups at the Maggie Valley, N.C., theme park Ghost Town in the Sky. Over the next decade, Marshal Andy appeared on television ads and radio spots all over town. But Marshal Andy found his true place in the pop-culture landscape in 1983, when he began hosting the old cowboy movie showcase Riders of the Silver Screen. Dressed in full early Hollywood cowboy regalia and joined by film historian Dan Calhoun and Rawhide Ray, who plays bass in the Riders of the Silver Screen Band, Marshal Andy plays old B Westerns and cowboy serials from the 1930s and '40s every Saturday morning on public television affiliates WSJK and WKOP.
"From 1930 until 1953, no matter what our problems were, we didn't have to worry," Smalls said in an interview with Metro Pulse last year. "We'd go to the movies and let Roy Rogers or Gene Autry solve our problems. We could relax, because we knew we were going to win."
Marshal Andy will celebrate the 25th anniversary of Riders of the Silver Screen with a live broadcast from the ETPtv studio on Saturday, March 21, at 10:30 a.m. as part of the non-profit network's membership drive.
"The show has been one of our most popular and beloved programs since it began," ETPtv president and general manager Teresa James says in a press release. "Its longevity is a testament to Andy and the quality of his show."