The Silent Cowboy

By | Jan 6, 2012

Tom Mix became film’s first Western Movie star. He wasn’t born in the west, but in the east. He was born on January 6, 1880 in Mix Run, Pennsylvania.

His birth name was Thomas Hezekiah Mix, but when he enlisted in the army during the Spanish-American War he entered as Thomas E. Mix. The E is Edwin, his father’s name. Was his name ever legally changed. It was in his mind since he appeared to have never liked the name Hezekiah and always used Thomas Edwin Mix.

Mix was a real Cowboy. After army he worked his way west until finally working at Will A. Dickey’s Circle D Ranch. The ranch was hired by Selig Pictures to supply cowboys and Indians along with horses for the movies. Mix was originally hired by Selig to provide and handle horses.

The real Tom Mix and the Legend of Tom Mix are at times different. As a showman he tended to claim to have done things before his stardom that are either totally false or can’t be confirmed. While he was in the army during the Spanish-American War, he was not one of Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders.

Of the reported 336 films he appeared in between 1910 and 1935, all but nine were silent. As the first Western star he defined the cowboy genre. All that followed has Tom Mix to thank. In the 1920’s he was among the highest paid film stars and one of the decade’s top box stars.

During a trip through the Arizona deserts on October 12, 1940, when he took a turn a bit too fast a suitcase stuck him in the head. He lost control of his 1937 Cord Sportsman car and plunged into a ravine. The ravine where Mix died has been named “The Tom Mix Wash” in his honor.


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