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- Tom Mix, Cowboy -
A Travelling Days Website

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THOMAS HEZEKIAH MIX, of Scottish and Cherokee Indian extraction, was born near Mix Run, Cameron County, Pennsylvania on January 6, 1880 and became the first and most successful motion picture cowboy of the silent era.

(Pictures left and below taken from Highway 89 between Phoenix and Tucson - see also final text entry below)

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At the peak of his film career he was paid in excess of $17,000 per week, a fortune at the time. One of his fan clubs boasted two million members.

Tom was attracted to ranch life and worked hard to be accepted as a cowboy. Mix's first break in films came with the Setig Polyscope Company's "Ranch Life in the Great Southwest", a movie that contained some of the earliest live rodeo scenes.

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Tom Mix was the first to introduce the horse as a star in its own right. His first film horse was Old Blue. His second horse, Tony, became the most popular horse in the world. In 1932, while filming "Hidden Gold", Tony injured his hip and was replaced by Tony, Jr. who carried Tom through the remainder of his career. By 1921 Tom Mix had become known as "The King of the Cowboys" (The title was later also given to Roy Rogers).

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During his film career from 1910 to 1935 Mix starred in around 350 films. He was still doing his own film stunts when he was in his fifties in spite of having suffered many injuries, including shootings, knife wounds, and a fractured skull, over his working years

In 1934 he purchased an interest in the Samuel B. Gill Circus. Re-named as the Tom Mix Circus, Tom went on tour with it over the next six years and travelled throughout America, Canada and Mexico.

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On October 12, 1940 near Tucson, Arizona, Tom Mix was driving alone on Highway 89 in his high performance automobile when he suffered a fatal accident. He swerved at 50 miles per hour to avoid a road maintenance gang and a metal suitcase in the rear of the car was flung forward and struck him on the back of the head, breaking his neck.

His faithful horse Tony Sr., who had retired in 1932, died two years later to the day on October 12, 1942.

Tom Mix is still considered to be 'good box office' and he continues to have thousands of fans. A more recent film, Blake Edwards' "Sunset", contains a fictional account of the meeting of Wyatt Earp (played by James Garner) and Tom Mix (Bruce Willis). bTomMix4.jpg - 43607 Bytes


The message on his memorial which stands north of Tucson alongside Highway 89 at the point where he was killed reads, "In memory of Tom Mix whose spirit left his body on this spot and whose characterization and portrayal in life served to better fix memories of the old west in the minds of living men".

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