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(From Old Corral image collection)
Above - a young Tom Mix, silent era.
Tom Mix

Real name:
Thomas Hezekiah Mix

1880 - 1940

(From Old Corral image collection)
Above - an older Tom Mix, circa 1930s.

(From Old Corral image collection)

Above, Mix riding the original Tony (has white socks on rear legs only and a diamond pattern in the white face blaze).

(From Old Corral image collection)

Above, Tom Mix atop Tony Jr. (has four white socks and a longish white face blaze without the diamond pattern).

The original profile on Tom Mix was done by Ye Old Corral webmeister back in the early days of the Old Corral website. I've learned a lot since then, and that includes an appreciation for western film heroes who entertained us for decades, be it on the silver screen or in public appearances, circuses, rodeos, etc. Tom Mix did his own stunts long before there were stuntmen and doubles handling the dangerous stuff. His silents for Fox were big box office and kept that studio solvent. To refresh my brain, I did a Mix movie marathon, running his ten sound films as well as a few silents. I also re-read the Tom Mix books by Bob Birchard and M. G. 'Bud' Norris as well as circus history articles by Fred D. Pfening, Jr. All of this added to my newfound appreciation for Tom Mix ... his long career ... his numerous ups and downs in both personal and business matters ... and his popularity and longevity with fans.

Special thanks to Bud, Bob and Fred for their assistance in this profile on Tom Mix.

When talkies arrived, Universal Pictures had a couple of western film heroes on the lot --- Ken Maynard and Hoot Gibson. But after the 1929-1930 release season, the contracts of both stars were not renewed and Universal was out of the B-western film business.

A year or so later, the studio recognized the error in their ways and coaxed the biggest western star of silents to return to the screen ... and to "talk". That man was Tom Mix.

Tom Mix was not a "son of the real west". He was born in or near Mix Run, Pennsylvania on January 6, 1880, and during his childhood years, the family lived in Driftwood, Pennsylvania and DuBois, Pennsylvania.

For many years, there was an annual Tom Mix Festival. Bud Norris provided more details on the Mix Festivals: the National Tom Mix Festival was held in DuBois, Pennsylvania from 1980 to 1989. In 1990 we held it in Las Vegas. 1991-1994, in Guthrie, Oklahoma. 1995 was at TERU Ranch (Ted Reinhart's resort in Pennsylvania). 1996 in Peru, Indiana. 1997 and 1998 in TERU. In 1999, back to DuBois again. I have worked on all 20 festivals with the founder, Dick Seiverling, who passed away in January, 2000. The final TM Festival event was held in 2004.

It's difficult to separate the real Tom Mix from the Hollywood version. Studio publicity and Mix's own elaborations of his life include: he was with Teddy Roosevelt in the charge up San Juan Hill in the Spanish American war; he was a Texas Ranger and deputy Marshal; he was in the Philippines; he was in the Boxer Rebellion in China; he fought in the Boer War; etc., etc.

Following is a brief summary of what we do know:

Tom Mix was a genuine Hollywood legend and his lavish lifestyle reflected that status. However, to adults and kiddies of the period, the Mix name equalled big screen adventure and thrills. Looking back at the silent movie era, the westerns of William S. Hart were popular and his approach was nitty-gritty, dark, bleak ... some call it realism. But Hart's popularity was waning due to his age and stylistic approach. At the opposite extreme was Mix - fancy stunts, trick riding, flashy clothes ... perhaps best described as showmanship over reality. Tom's approach apparently worked, and his salary at Fox reached $17,500.00 ... PER WEEK.

(Courtesy of Toni McLaughlin)
Left is a photo postcard of Tom Mix's Hollywood home as shown on a mid 1920s 'Bardell Miniature' postcard (size about 2 x 3 inches).  This is one of fifteen included in the 'Movie Stars' Homes' packet.

Toni McLaughlin has a website showing all the fifteen cards and the address is:

The Old Corral is about B western "talkies", so we'll just touch on Mix's career in silents. His initial films for Selig began around 1909, and most (all) of the early films were shorts (one and two-reelers with a running time of about ten to twenty minutes). As he became more popular, and the cinema medium matured, his pictures were lengthened to 50-60 minutes (five or six reels). Mix also was credited as director and scriptwriter on many of these films.

Around 1917, he began a lengthy stay at Fox and was there through 1928 (Fox's other cinema cowboy during this time was Charles "Buck" Jones). After leaving Fox, he did five silents at Film Booking Office (FBO), which was the forerunner of RKO and run by Joe Kennedy Sr., the father of President John F. Kennedy.

According to Bud Norris, Mix's film output from 1909-1929 amounted to 326 silents. Bud also notes that virtually every film Mix made survives today ... but not here. 90% are in the archives in Czechoslovakia and Denmark, but we can't get them over here. Bud has tried for fifteen years without success.

(Courtesy of Ed Phillips)

Above, Tom and Kathleen Key in a photo of a lobby card from NORTH OF HUDSON BAY (Fox, 1923). The director on this was a young John Ford.
As I was prepping this webpage, I did some quick checks on the availability of Mix's silents. Some video dealers offer 'compilations' of his surviving Selig shorts along with bits and pieces from other films. Some of the available full length Selig films include: IN THE DAYS Of The THUNDERING HERD (Selig, 1914), THE HEART OF TEXAS RYAN (Selig, 1916?), and THE MAN FROM TEXAS (Selig, 1917). Less than a dozen of the Fox features are around: TRAILIN' (Fox, 1921), SKY HIGH (Fox, 1922), JUST TONY (Fox, 1922), RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE (Fox, 1925), the non-western DICK TURPIN (Fox, 1925), THE GREAT K & A TRAIN ROBBERY (Fox, 1926), and THE LAST TRAIL (Fox, 1927). There are probably a few other titles which I've missed.

(Courtesy of Ed Phillips)

(Courtesy of Ed Phillips)

Above - Mix and the original Tony in lobby card photos from THE TROUBLE SHOOTER (Fox, 1924) and 3 JUMPS AHEAD (Fox, 1923). In the card on the right, you can see white diamond face blaze on the original Tony. Note the blaze fades out just above the nostrils.

The still on the right of Mix and Tony is purportedly from the Selig Production, THE HEART OF TEXAS RYAN. Based on the face blowup of the horse, this does appear to be Tony Sr. (diamond shape face blaze and white socks on the rear legs).

Bud Norris mentions that Mix had many horses, not all his, from the beginning of his film career. There were at least six doubles for Tony, so it is impossible to know which horse he used for every shot of every film.

Mix expert Bob Birchard e-mailed me with more info on this photo: "The photo that is said to be from THE HEART OF TEXAS RYAN is not from that film. This picture was shot at the Mixville stables in Edendale and was probably taken circa 1919-1920 when Tom Mix had left Selig and was at Fox."

(Courtesy of Ed Phillips)

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

In the above lobby card from OH, YOU TONY! (Fox, 1924), note the mention of a "J. G. Blystone Production". This was one of many Tom Mix silents churned out by John Gilman "Jack" Blystone, the brother of prolific bad guy Stanley Blystone.

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