Few people know that Kingman, Arizona was the hometown of Western actor Andy Devine. With his distinctive raspy voice and his impressive line of film credits, Devine was a poster boy of the Western genre.
But he was also known for his comedic roles. He even acted alongside John Wayne and Roy Rogers. Devine was best known for his roles as Cookie opposite Roy Rogers in 10 movies and Jingles in the television show “The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok”. But Devine always called Kingman home.
Devine started his film career in the late 1920s in silent films, which soon progressed to “talkies”. But people said he would not succeed. The reason was that the actor had such an unusual voice. Devine, however, succeeded despite the naysayers. He also never publicly admitted where his unusual voice came from, always changing his story. He usually claimed it was from an accident during childhood when he had fallen and pierced the roof of his mouth, but no one has ever been able to substantiate that.
After a tragic workplace accident in 1906, Andy’s father invested his settlement money in a Kingman hotel. Devine grew up helping his father in the hotel, and the town fondly remembers the actor. As a young boy, he was mischievous and wild, often pulling pranks. But the Devine family was an institution in Kingman and helped establish its part in the National Old Trails Highway, which would eventually turn into Route 66.
All in all, Devine starred in more than 400 films. His acting career was prolific, and his legacy was legendary. He died of leukemia in 1977, but the acting world remembers him with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Meanwhile, his hometown remembers him with a street name: the section of Route 66 that runs through Kingman is Andy Devine Avenue.
If you’re staying in one of the RV parks near Kingman and are looking for something fun to do, take a trip to the Andy Devine Days Festival. It runs through late September right in Kingman and is easily accessible from the Kingman AZ RV parks.
The festival is a two-day extravaganza in honor of the late actor. It’s Kingman’s biggest street festival, featuring a parade as well as dozens of vendors. There are even live shows, art displays, waterslides, bull rides and obstacle courses, and a tractor pull. Kingman prides itself on the unique feel of the event as well as the legacy of the actor it honors.
Nowadays, the town turns out once a year for two days to remember the actor who hailed from the town they know and love. There, tourists can find homemade crafts, fairground food like street tacos and fry bread, and Southwest and Route 66 memorabilia. Vendors at the festival sell everything from jewelry to homemade candles, quilts, clothing, and self-care products. Kingman takes pride in its history, and the Andy Devine Days Festival is one chance to show that.
If you’re staying in one of the RV parks around Kingman in late September, stop by the Andy Devine Days Festival. After a long drive in an RV, there’s nothing like taking part in an outdoor celebration like this. The festival even has a street dance with live music. In 2019, it will also feature one-mile, 5k, and 10k races through the streets of Kingman and along historic sites. Participants can also take part in a triathlon.
Andy Devine has been honored throughout the film world, but he is honored in a special way in his hometown of Kingman.