April 2013 ~~~~ Editor:  Cliff Hanger ~~~~
Cowboy Heros

Tom Mix from Wikipedia

Thomas Edwin "Tom" Mix (born Thomas Hezikiah Mix; January 6, 1880 – October 12, 1940) was an American film actor and the star of many early Western movies. Between 1909 and 1935, Mix appeared in 291 films, all but nine of which were silent movies. He was Hollywood's first Western megastar and is noted as having helped define the genre for all cowboy actors who followed.

Early years

Thomas Hezikiah Mix was born January 6, 1880 in Mix Run, Pennsylvania, about 40 miles (60 km) north of State College, Pennsylvania, to Edwin and Elizabeth Mix. He grew up in nearby Dubois, Pennsylvania, where his father, a stable master for a wealthy lumber merchant, taught him to ride and love horses. He spent time working on a local farm owned by John Dubois, a lumber businessman. He had dreams of being in the circus and was rumored to have been caught by his parents practicing knife-throwing tricks against a wall, using his sister as an assistant.

In April 1898, during the Spanish-American War, he enlisted in the Army under the name Thomas E. (Edwin) Mix. His unit never went overseas, and Mix later failed to return for duty after an extended furlough when he married Grace I. Allin on July 18, 1902. Mix was listed as AWOL on November 4, 1902, but was never court-martialed nor apparently even discharged. His marriage to Allin was annulled after one year. In 1905, Mix married Kitty Jewel Perinne, but this marriage also ended within a year. He next married Olive Stokes on January 10, 1909, in Medora, North Dakota.

In 1905, Mix rode in Theodore Roosevelt's inaugural parade led by Seth Bullock with a group of 50 horsemen, which included several former Rough Riders. Years later, Hollywood publicists would muddle this event to imply that Mix had been a Rough Rider himself.

Tom Mix, 1925
After working a variety of odd jobs in the Oklahoma Territory, Mix found employment at the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch, one of the largest ranching businesses in the United States, covering 101,000 acres (409 km²), hence its name. He stood out as a skilled horseman and expert shot, winning national riding and roping contests at Prescott, Arizona in 1909, and Canon City, Colorado in 1910.

Film career

Selig Polyscope

Tom Mix began his film career as a supporting cast member with the Selig Polyscope Company. His first appearance was in a short film titled The Cowboy Millionaire, released on October 21, 1909. In 1910 he appeared as himself in a short documentary film titled Ranch Life in the Great Southwest in which he displayed his skills as a cattle wrangler. Shot at the Selig studio in the Edendale district of Los Angeles (now known as Echo Park), the film was a success and Mix became an early motion picture star.

On July 13, 1912, Olive gave birth to their daughter Ruth. Mix performed in more than 100 films for Selig, many of which were filmed in Las Vegas, New Mexico. While with Selig he co-starred in several films with Victoria Forde, and they fell in love. He divorced Olive Stokes in 1917. By then, Selig Polyscope had encountered severe financial difficulties, and Tom Mix and Victoria Forde both subsequently signed with Fox Film Corporation, which had leased the Edendale studio. Mix and Forde married in 1918 and they had a daughter, Thomasina Mix (Tommie), in 1922.

Tom Mix in Mr. Logan, U.S.A., 1919


Tom Mix went on to make more than 160 cowboy films throughout the 1920s. These featured action oriented scripts which contrasted with the documentary style of his work with Selig. Heroes and villains were sharply defined and a clean-cut cowboy always "saved the day." Millions of American children grew up watching his films on Saturday afternoons. His intelligent and handsome horse Tony also became a celebrity. Mix did his own stunts and was frequently injured.

Mix's salary at Fox reached $7,500 a week. His performances weren't noted for their realism but for screen-friendly action stunts and horseback riding, attention-grabbing cowboy costumes and showmanship. At the Edendale lot Mix built a 12-acre (49,000 m2) shooting set called Mixville. Loaded with western props and furnishings, it has been described as a "complete frontier town, with a dusty street, hitching rails, a saloon, jail, bank, doctor's office, surveyor's office, and the simple frame houses typical of the early Western era." Near the back of the lot an Indian village of lodges was ringed by miniature plaster mountains which on screen were said to be "ferociously convincing." The set also included a simulated desert, large corral and a ranch house with no roof, to facilitate interior shots.

During 1929, Mix's last year in silent pictures, he worked for Film Booking Office of America (FBO), a small movie studio run by Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. and soon to be merged into Kennedy's RKO Radio Pictures. Mix was 49 and by most accounts he was ready to retire from the movies. That same year, Mix was a pallbearer at the funeral of Wyatt Earp (during which he reportedly wept).


Tom Mix, 1925

Mix appeared with the Sells-Floto Circus in 1929, 1930 and 1931 at a reported weekly salary of $20,000. He and Forde were divorced in 1931. Meanwhile, the Great Depression (along with the actor's free-spending ways and many wives) had reportedly wiped out most of his savings. In 1932, he married his fifth wife, Mabel Hubbell Ward. Universal Pictures approached him that year with an offer to do talkies which included script and cast approval. He did nine pictures for Universal, but because of injuries he received while filming, he was reluctant to continue with any more. Mix then appeared with the Sam B. Dill circus, which he reportedly bought two years later (1935).

Mix's last screen appearance was a 15-episode sound Mascot Pictures serial, The Miracle Rider (1935), receiving $40,000 for four weeks of filming. Also that year, Texas governor James Allred named Mix an honorary Texas Ranger. Mix went back to circus performing, this time with his eldest daughter Ruth, who had appeared in some of his films. In 1938, Mix went to Europe on a promotional trip, while his daughter Ruth stayed behind to manage his circus, which soon failed. He later excluded her from his will. He had reportedly made over $6,000,000 (approaching $400 million in early 21st century, inflation-adjusted values) during his 26-year film career.


In 1933, Ralston-Purina obtained his permission to produce a Tom Mix radio series called Tom Mix Ralston Straight Shooters which, but for one year during World War II, was popular throughout most of the 1930s through the early 1950s. Mix never appeared on these broadcasts, and was instead played by radio actors: Artells Dickson (early 1930s), Jack Holden (from 1937), Russell Thorsen (early 1940s) and Joe "Curley" Bradley (from 1944). Others in the supporting cast included George Gobel, Harold Peary and Willard Waterman.

The Ralston company offered ads during the Tom Mix radio program for listeners to send in for a series of 12 special Ralston-Tom Mix Comic books available only by writing the Ralston Company by mail.


On the afternoon of October 12, 1940, Mix was driving his 1937 Cord 812 Phaeton near Florence, Arizona, (between Tucson and Phoenix) on Arizona State Route 79. Mix had been visiting Pima County Sheriff Ed Nichols in Tucson  and had visited the Oracle Junction Inn, a popular gambling and drinking establishment, where he had called his agent. Heading toward Phoenix, he came upon construction barriers at a bridge washed away by a flash flood. He was unable to stop in time. The car swerved twice then rolled into a gully, pinning his body underneath. He had placed a large aluminum suitcase containing a large sum of money, traveler's checks and jewels on the package shelf behind him. It flew forward and struck Mix's head, shattering his skull and breaking his neck. The 60-year-old actor was killed almost instantly. Eyewitnesses said Mix had been traveling at 80 mph. A small stone memorial marks the site of his death on State Route 79, and the nearby gully is named "Tom Mix Wash". The plaque on the marker bears the inscription: "In memory of Tom Mix whose spirit left his body on this spot and whose characterization and portrayals in life served to better fix memories of the old West in the minds of living men."

Following a funeral at the Little Church of the Flowers, Tom Mix was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California. He was 60 years old.


Tom Mix was "the King of Cowboys" when Ronald Reagan and John Wayne were youngsters and the influence of his screen persona can be seen in their approach to portraying cowboys. When an injury caused football player John Wayne to drop out of USC, Tom Mix helped him get a job moving props in the back lot of Fox Studios.

Tom Mix made 291 movies throughout his career. As of 2007, only about 10% of these were reportedly available for viewing, although it was unclear how many of these films are now considered lost films.

For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Tom Mix has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1708 Vine Street. His cowboy boot prints, palm prints and his famous horse Tony's hoof prints are at Grauman's Chinese Theatre at 6925 Hollywood Boulevard. In 1958 he was inducted posthumously into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. In 1959 a 'Monument To The Stars' was erected on Beverly Dr. (where it intersects with Olympic Blvd. and becomes Beverwil) in Beverly Hills. The memorial consists of a bronze-green spiral of sprocketed "camera film" above a multi-sided tower, embossed with full-length likenesses of early stars who appeared in famous silent movies. Those memorialized include Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Will Rogers, Conrad Nagel, Rudolph Valentino, Fred Niblo, Tom Mix, and Harold Lloyd. There is a Tom Mix museum in Dewey, Oklahoma and another in Mix Run, Pennsylvania. Between 1980 and 2004, 21 Tom Mix festivals were held during the month of September, most of them in DuBois, Pennsylvania.

Tom Mix memorial near Florence,
Arizona, the site of his death
Tom Mix memorial plaque

Cultural references

By the 21st century, most people were more familiar with Tom Mix's name through the many cultural references which have echoed long after his death, rather than from having seen his films. Cereal boxtop premiums (radio premiums) from the 1940s relating to Mix are still traded by collectors. Mix was referred to in Conny Froboess' 1951 song "Pack' die Badehose ein" and in a 1953 Dinah Washington song, "TV Is the Thing This Year" for EmArcy Records (signifying a change in technology from radio to television).

By the 21st century, most people were more familiar with Tom Mix's name through the many cultural references which have echoed long after his death, rather than from having seen his films. Cereal boxtop premiums (radio premiums) from the 1940s relating to Mix are still traded by collectors. Mix was referred to in Conny Froboess' 1951 song "Pack' die Badehose ein" and in a 1953 Dinah Washington song, "TV Is the Thing This Year" for EmArcy Records (signifying a change in technology from radio to television).

    In the JD Salinger short story "The Laughing Man", the Chief is described as having 
    "the most photogenic features of Buck Jones, Ken Maynard, and Tom Mix."

    In 1967, Mix was featured with many other 20th century celebrities on the cover of 
    The Beatles' Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

    In Woody Allen's 1983 film Zelig, archival footage is shown of Mix attending a party at
    Hearst Castle near San Simeon, California. 

Tom Mix, 1925
    Bruce Willis played Tom Mix in the 1988 Blake Edwards film Sunset, with James Garner as  Wyatt Earp. The film was very loosely based
    on the fact that Earp and Mix knew each other  when Earp was serving as a consultant during the silent film era.

    In The Beverly Hillbillies, Jed Clampett's reason for going to Beverly Hills was to live in the 
    same place as Tom Mix.

    Daryl Ponicsan's novel Tom Mix Died for Your Sins (1975) evokes Mix's life and personality. Clifford Irving offered a
    pseudo-autobiographical version of Mix's early adulthood, drawing him as a brash young gringo who befriends and then joins up with
    the Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa in the novel Tom Mix and Pancho Villa (1982).

    In the 2008 movie Changeling, starring Angelina Jolie, the mysterious little boy claiming to be Walter Collins finally confesses to the 
    police that the reason he ran away to Los Angeles was in hopes of meeting Tom Mix and his horse Tony.

   In the children's novel "Letters From Rifka" by "Karen Hesse", the protagonist Rifka Nebrot mentions learning the English language by 
   reading comic books about a cowboy named Tom Mix who shoots at bad guys.

   James Horwitz's book They Went Thataway (1975) ends with Horwitz visiting Tom Mix Wash (where Mix died) and leaving his childhood 
   cowboy boots at the foot of the monument.

   A resurrected Tom Mix appeared in two of Philip José Farmer's Riverworld novels, The Dark Design (1977) and The Magic Labyrinth (1980)
   as a traveling companion of Jack London, along with a short story featured in the anthology Riverworld and Other Stories (1979).

   In the "Mulcahy's War" episode of M*A*S*H Father Mulcahy used a Tom Mix pocket knife to perform an emergency tracheotomy (1976).

   Philip K. Dick's sci-fi novel The Penultimate Truth features an underground bunker named 'the Tom Mix'.

   In Batman/Houdini: The Devil's Workshop (1993), Tom Mix is a high profile figure in Gotham society, and takes up Houdini's offer of a free
   punch to the stomach.

   In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine novel The Laertian Gamble, Miles O'Brien reads a Tom Mix Western.

   In an episode of Raw Toonage, Bonkers D. Bobcat plays a cowboy character named "Trail Mix Bonkers", an obvious homage to Tom Mix, 
   as well as a play on both his name and trail mix.

   The menacing cowboy character in David Lynch's film Mulholland Drive contains oblique references to Mix.

   The ghost of Tom Mix haunted a Hollywood couple in the supernatural thriller The Ghosts of Edendale (2004).

   Ralston-Purina briefly revived its Tom Mix boxtop fan club during the 1980s, and in 2007 had Tom Mix pages on the company's website.

   Tom Mix is mentioned as being a pall bearer and weeping at the funeral for Wyatt Earp at the beginning of the end credits for the 1993
   George P. Cosmatos film Tombstone.

   In the Doctor Who episode "The Gunfighters", the TARDIS lands at Tombstone, Arizona in 1881, where the Doctor says he doesn't
   understand why they want to dress like Tom Mix.

   The United States Postal Service has commemorated Tom Mix on a first-class mail postage stamp.

   In Salt-Water Moon, by Canadian playwright David French, Jacob describes watching "The Lucky Horseshoe", calling it "one of the best
   Tom ever made," and tries to seduce Mary when describing it.

   Italian comic series Captain Miki was renamed by comics calligrapher Ferdi Say??man as "Captain Tom Mix" (Yüzba?? Tommiks) in the
   70s, and comics are being published with this name till today.

   In the series Bewitched in the episode "Serena's Youth Pill", Darin tries to convince young Larry Tate to drink the magic antidote by
   telling him it would help Larry grow up to be a cowboy like Tom Mix.

   In the 2010 Boardwalk Empire episode "The Emerald City", Nucky Thompson's servant Eddie Kessler offers to frisk someone who's come
   to see him. Nucky chides him: "You're Tom Mix all of a sudden?"

Willaim Hart from Wikipedia
William Surrey Hart (December 6, 1864 – June 23, 1946) was an American silent film actor, screenwriter, director and producer. He is remembered for having "imbued all of his characters with honor and integrity.


Hart was born in Newburgh, New York; to James Howard Hart (1829–1902) and Katherine Diédricht Hart (1833–1909). William had 2 brothers and 4 sisters. His father was of Irish ancestry, and his mother was of German heritage. Hart began his acting career on stage in his 20s and in film when he was 49, which coincided with the beginning of film's transition from curiosity to commercial art form. He toured and traveled extensively while trying to make a name for himself as an actor, and for a time coached shows at the Asheville Opera House around year 1900. His family had moved to Asheville but after his youngest sister Lotta died of typhoid fever they all left together for Brooklyn until William went back on tour.

A successful Shakespearean actor on Broadway who had worked with Margaret Mather and other stars, he appeared in the original 1899 stage production of Ben-Hur.


Sketch of William S. Hart in 1929
Hart went on to become one of the first great stars of the motion picture western. Fascinated by the Old West, he acquired Billy the Kid's "six shooters" and was a friend of legendary lawmen Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson. He entered films in 1914 where, after playing supporting roles in two short films, he achieved stardom as the lead in the feature The Bargain. Hart was particularly interested in making realistic western films. His films are noted for their authentic costumes and props, as well as Hart's extraordinary acting ability, honed on Shakespearean theater stages in the United States and England.

Beginning in 1915, Hart starred in his own series of two-reel western short subjects for producer Thomas Ince, which were so popular that they were supplanted by a series of feature films. Many of Hart's early films continued to play in theaters, under new titles, for another decade. In 1915 and 1916 exhibitors voted him the biggest money making star in the US. In 1917 Hart accepted a lucrative offer from Adolph Zukor to join Famous Players-Lasky, which merged into Paramount Pictures. In the films Hart began to ride a brown and white pinto he called Fritz. Fritz was the forerunner of later famous movie horses known by their own name, i.e., horses like Tom Mix's Tony, Roy Rogers's Trigger and Clayton Moore's Silver, etc. Hart was now making feature films exclusively, and films like Square Deal Sanderson and The Toll Gate were popular with fans. Hart married young Hollywood actress Winifred Westover. Although their marriage was short-lived, they had one child, William S. Hart, Jr.(1922–2004).

By the early 1920s, however, Hart's brand of gritty, rugged westerns with drab costumes and moralistic themes gradually fell out of fashion. The public became attracted by a new kind of movie cowboy, epitomized by Tom Mix, who wore flashier costumes and was faster with the action. Paramount dropped Hart, who then made one last bid for his kind of western. He produced Tumbleweeds (1925) with his own money, arranging to release it independently through United Artists. The film turned out well, with an epic land-rush sequence, but did only fair business at the box office. Hart was angered by United Artists' failure to promote his film properly and sued United Artists. The legal proceedings dragged on for years, and the courts finally ruled in Hart's favor, in 1940.

Hart's ranch home,
“La Loma de los Vientos”
in Newhall, California, built between
1924 and 1928 in the Spanish Colonial
Revival architectural style,
is currently a museum
After Tumbleweeds, Hart retired to his Newhall, California, ranch home, “La Loma de los Vientos,” which was designed by architect Arthur R. Kelly. In 1939 he appeared in his only sound film, a spoken prologue for a reissue of Tumbleweeds. The 75-year-old Hart, filmed on location at his Newhall ranch, reflects on the Old West and recalls his silent-movie days fondly. The speech turned out to be William S. Hart's farewell to the screen, and it's a fitting valedictory. Most prints and video versions of Tumbleweeds circulating today include Hart's speech. Hart died on June 23, 1946, in Newhall, California at the age of 81. He was buried in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.


For his contribution to the motion picture industry, William S. Hart has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6363 Hollywood Blvd. In 1975, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

As part of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, California, Hart's former home and 260-acre (1.1 km²) ranch in Newhall is now William S. Hart Park. The William S. Hart High School District as well as William S. Hart Senior High School, both located in the Santa Clarita Valley
in the northern part of Los Angeles County, were named in his honor.

On November 10, 1962, Hart was honored posthumously in an episode of the short-lived The Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Show, a western variety program on ABC.

William Boyd from Wikipedia
William Lawrence Boyd (June 5, 1895 – September 12, 1972) was an American film actor best known for portraying Hopalong Cassidy.


Boyd was born in Hendrysburg in Belmont County, located 26 miles east of Cambridge, Ohio. He was reared in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the son of day laborer Charles William Boyd and his wife, the former Lida Wilkens. Following his father's death, he moved to California and worked as an orange picker, surveyor, tool dresser and auto salesman.

In Hollywood, he found extra work in Why Change Your Wife? and other films. During World War I, he enlisted in the army but was exempt because of a "weak heart." More prominent film roles followed, and he became famous as a leading man in silent film romances, earning an annual salary of $100,000. He was the lead actor in Cecil B. DeMille's The Volga Boatman (1926) and DeMille's extravaganza, The King of Kings, helping Christ carry the cross as Simon of Cyrene and also in DeMille's Skyscraper. He then appeared in D.W. Griffith's, Lady of the Pavements (1929).

Radio Pictures ended Boyd's contract in 1931 when his picture was mistakenly run in a newspaper story about the arrest of another actor, William "Stage" Boyd, on gambling and liquor charges. Having been reckless with his money, Boyd was broke and without a job, and for a few years he was credited in several films as "Bill Boyd" to prevent being mistaken for his actor namesake.

Chicago (circa 1950)
Hopalong Cassidy

In 1935, he was offered the supporting role of Red Connors in the movie Hop-Along Cassidy, but asked to be considered for the title role and won it. The original Hopalong Cassidy character, written by Clarence E. Mulford for pulp fiction, was changed from a hard-drinking, rough-living wrangler to its eventual incarnation as a cowboy hero who did not smoke, drink or swear and who always let the bad guy start the fight. Although Boyd "never branded a cow or mended a fence, cannot bulldog a steer", and disliked Western music, he became indelibly associated with the Hopalong character and, like rival cowboy stars Roy Rogers and Gene Autry, gained lasting fame in the Western film genre. The Hopalong Cassidy series ended in 1947 after 66 films, with Boyd producing the last 12.

Anticipating television's rise, Boyd spent $350,000 to purchase the rights to the Hopalong Cassidy character, books and films. In 1949, he released the films to television, where they became extremely popular and began the long-running genre of Westerns on television. Like Rogers and Autry, Boyd licensed much merchandise, including such products as Hopalong Cassidy watches, trash cans, cups, dishes, Topps trading cards, a comic strip, comic books, radio shows and cowboy outfits. The actor identified with his character, often dressing as a cowboy in public. Although Boyd's portrayal of Hopalong made him very wealthy, he believed that it was his duty to help strengthen his "friends" - America's youth. The actor refused to license his name for products he viewed as unsuitable or dangerous, and turned down personal appearances at which his "friends" would be charged admission.

Boyd appeared as Hopalong Cassidy on the cover of numerous national magazines, including the August 29, 1950 issue of Look and the November 27, 1950 issue of Time.

Boyd had a cameo as himself in Cecil B. DeMille's 1952 circus epic, The Greatest Show on Earth. DeMille reportedly asked Boyd to take the role of Moses in his remake, The Ten Commandments, but Boyd felt his identification with the Cassidy character would make it impossible for audiences to accept him as Moses.

Personal life

Boyd was married five times, first to Laura Maynard and then to actresses Ruth Miller, Elinor Fair, Dorothy Sebastian and Grace Bradley. A son, by third wife Fair, died aged 9 months. Following his retirement from the screen, Boyd invested both his time and money in real estate and moved to Palm Desert, California. He refused interviews and photographs in later years, preferring not to disillusion his millions of fans who remembered him as their screen idol.

For his contribution to the motion picture industry, he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1734 Vine Street. In 1995, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

The original American Pie album by Don McLean inner sleeve featured a free verse poem written by McLean about Boyd along with a picture of Boyd in full Hopalong regalia. This sleeve was removed within a year of the album's release. The words to this poem appear on a plaque at the hospital where Boyd died.

At his death in 1972, he was survived by his fifth wife, actress Grace Bradley Boyd, who died on September 21, 2010 on her 97th birthday.


Since 1991, the Friends of Hoppy Fan Club has held the Hopalong Cassidy Festival in Cambridge, Ohio, near Boyd's birthplace.

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