(From Old Corral image collection) |Left, Mix on the white Tony II chatting with Gene Autry riding ??? during their 1939 Christmas Parade appearance in Hollywood.|
Mix began using this white horse circa 1937-1938, and had taken the horse to Europe for his 1938-1939 tour and performances.
As mentioned earlier, Mix was not with his circus when it shut down in September, 1938. He was overseas doing a tour with his own small show, and later, he signed on with Circus Belli, doing appearances in Europe. In late Summer, 1939, Tom returned to the states and continued performing with a small vaudeville type act.
(From Old Corral collection)
On Saturday, October 12, 1940, Tom was driving his 1937 Cord Phaeton convertible when it left the road near Florence, Arizona. One or more suitcases in the rear of the car flew forward, striking Mix in the head/neck and killing him. The death of the silver screen legend was a major news event, and many papers reported Mix's passing on the front page of their Sunday, October 13, 1940 editions. A newspaper article that I have mentions that Mix was taken to a Florence, Arizona mortuary for several hours and then his body was flown to California. His wife Mabel said "arrangements would be made for a Masonic and military funeral service, probably in Hollywood."
Thousands of fans and Hollywood personalities attended the October 16, 1940 funeral services and Mix was interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.
There wasn't much left in Tom's estate after five wives, losses due to the stock market crash, the Depression, the circus, as well as his free spending lifestyle. Newspaper articles from a few months after his death noted that the estate was valued at about $115,000.00. While that is a fairly nice sum for then and now, it's really not much considering that Mix had made millions.
As mentioned earlier, there were two children - Ruth was born July 13, 1912 to Olive Stokes, and daughter Thomasina (Tommie) was born February 12, 1922 to Victoria Forde. (Victoria Forde was a frequent heroine/leading lady for Tom during his Selig work.)
Bobby Copeland provides some further details on Mix's will:
Tom left his lawyer of 25 years, Ivon D. Parker, his horse Tony and all his riding equipment, guns, and western clothing used in his motion picture work, and all his trophies. The rest of the estate was divided equally between the actor's widow, Mabel Hubbell Mix, and one of his daughters, Thomasina Mix Mathews, 19, for whom the will provided a monthly income of $500 until she reaches the age of 25, when she is to receive her share of the principal. Mix disinherited his four former wives and his other daughter, Ruth Mix Knight. "I declare I have been previously married", the will stated. "I do not desire any of my former wives or my said daughter, Ruth Mix, now known as Ruth Mix Knight, in any wise participate in this will."
The comic books and Ralston radio program continued for another decade.
Mix did ten sound films, and most fans have seen THE MIRACLE RIDER, as it was shown on early TV and was one of the first serials available on videotape. However, to properly evaluate Mix in the talkies, you also need to view one or several of his better Universal talkies --- try MY PAL, THE KING, THE FOURTH HORSEMAN and THE TEXAS BAD MAN. You might be pleasantly surprised!
Tom Mix has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1958, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. And at the 1987 Golden Boot program, Mix was the recipient of their In Memorial Award.
The Family Search website (free), Ancestry.com (subscription), and the death certificate provide more on Tom Mix and family:
- 1930 census: 50 year old Tom Mix (born Texas), 32 year old wife Pictoria [sic] (born New York), 8 year old daughter Thomasina (born California), 57 year old father-in-law Arthur Hanna-Foule (born England), and two servants are living in the Los Angeles area: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XCVS-CN4
Ancestry had the 1930 census takers worksheet: the Mix family is renting at $750.00/monthly and live at 1330 Schuyler Road, Los Angeles. Tom's occupation is "Actor Circus", and father-in-law Arthur Hanna-Foule is "Writer - Motion Pictures". The census taker has misspelled Victoria as Pictoria, and next to Tom's name, the census taker wrote "(ab.)" which I'm guessing means that Tom was absent.
- 1940 census: 60 year old Tom Mix (born Texas) and 38 year old wife Mabel (born Illinois) are living in the Los Angeles area. Daughter Thomasina (who would be about 18 years old) is not present: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/K9HV-MRS
1940 census takers worksheet: Tom and Mabel Mix own their home at 13753 Osbourne Street, Los Angeles, and they lived in the Los Angeles area in 1935. Mix reports his occupation as "Actor - Motion Picture Studio", and in 1939, he worked 40 weeks and earned $5000.00+: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-27796-6521-81?cc=2000219&wc=M9Q8-YDH:n980960560
- You can view Mix's death certificate at the State of Arizona, Department of Health Services website: http://genealogy.az.gov/
Death certificate: 60 year old Thomas Edwin Mix was born January 6, 1880 in DuBoise, Pennsylvania; he was a Spanish American war veteran; and his occupation was showman. Cause and time of death was "automobile accident injury broken neck" about 2:30 p.m. on October 12, 1940 about 18 miles south of Florence, Arizona on state highway 80. Death certificate informant was Tom's wife Mabel Mix, and they lived in Pacoima, Los Angeles County, California. Cole and Maud Mortuary, Florence, Arizona was the local funeral home, and Mix's remains were sent to California for funeral and burial.
The Motion Picture Herald and Boxoffice polls were conducted from about the mid 1930s through the mid 1950s. With a few exceptions, the annual results would list the 'Top Ten' (or 'Top Five') cowboy film stars. In most cases, the winners were what you would expect --- Autry, Rogers, Holt, Starrett, Hoppy, etc. Tom Mix had one year where he was ranked. However, it should be noted that the polls did not begin until 1936, which was well past Mix's prime movie-making days.
|Popularity Rankings of Tom Mix
||Boxoffice Poll Ranking
Tom Mix Facts
Info from Bud Norris' The Tom Mix Book
|Info & Comments
226 were half-reel, 1-reel and 2-reelers; 131 were westerns with remainder being action adventures, drama, comedy, etc.
79 were 5-, 6-, 7-, and 8-reelers; 64 were westerns with remainder being action adventures, drama, comedy, etc.
all were 6- or 7-reels in length; all were westerns
all were 6- or 7-reels in length; all were westerns
|Films featuring Mix's horse, 'Old Blue'
|Films featuring Mix's horse, 'Tony'
|Films featuring Mix's horse, 'Tony, Jr.'
|Films produced by Mix
|Films written by Mix
|Films directed by Mix
||1902 to Grace Allin
1905 to Kitty Jewell Perrine
1909 to Olive Stokes
1918 to actress Victoria Forde
1932 to Mabel Ward
|Children: 2 daughters
||Ruth (born 1912 to Mix & Olive Stokes)
Thomasina (nicknamed "Tommie", born 1922 to Mix & Victoria Forde)
|M. G. 'Bud' Norris has authored a great bio on the legendary western movie star titled The Tom Mix Book. This $24.95 trade paperback is about 8 1/2 x 11 inches in size, has 377 pages ... includes a complete filmography, details on Mix's circus days, info on the Tom Mix radio program and Ralston premiums, lots of photos of lobby cards, postcards, arcade cards, etc. I ordered my copy direct from Bud and the price was $27.95, including postage. Bud will also autograph if you wish. Bud's mail address is:|
M. G. Norris
1324 N. Hague Ave.
Columbus, OH 43204-2108
Want more info? Bud's e-mail address is: email@example.com
|Another great biography is King Cowboy: Tom Mix and the Movies by author and film historian Robert S. Birchard. The 289 page paperback includes a bunch of photos and behind the scenes stills. Mix's films are documented with full production and screen credits as well as reviews and plot summaries.|
Bob Birchard passed away May 30, 2016. If you're interested in his Mix book, check eBay, Amazon and online book sellers.