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(Courtesy of Andy Southard)

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above is Nadine Ruth Jane Mix (1912-1977), the older of Tom's two children (both daughters). Right is the cover of the pressbook for FIGHTING PIONEERS (Resolute, 1935), one in a brief series featuring Ruth and Buzz Barton and starring Rex Bell. The photo insets at the top are from L-to-R, Ruth, Rex Bell and Buzz Barton.

Tom's daughter Nadine Ruth Jane Mix was born July 13, 1912 in Oklahoma to Mix and his third wife, Olive Stokes Mix.

Ruth Mix (1912-1977) had a brief Hollywood career which spanned a dozen or so film roles over a ten year period that began around 1926. She did sound westerns with Wally Wales (Hal Taliaferro) and Hoot Gibson but is probably best remembered as the female lead in a quartet of 1934-1935 oaters starring Rex Bell for Resolute as well as a trio of cliffhangers for Stage and Screen - THE BLACK COIN (1936), THE AMAZING EXPLOITS OF THE CLUTCHING HAND (1936), and CUSTER'S LAST STAND (1936). In a November, 1937 newspaper blurb, there is a mention of Grand National doing films with Tex Ritter and Ken Maynard (and that happened) as well as a cowgirl series starring Ruth (that didn't occur). After completing her Hollywood career, Ruth joined her father's circus and remained through the final show. There's a profile on Ruth in the Heroines and Leading Ladies section on the Old Corral.

Circus attendance continued to dwindle due to the lagging economy, ticket prices were cut, and they trimmed their personnel roster and acts. During a July, 1938 performance in Neenah, Wisconsin, there was a freak storm which damaged some of the tents and caused injuries to about a dozen patrons and workers. Among the injured was equestrian director Johnny Agee. According to a newspaper article, the lone fatality was Ruth's trick horse "Freddie" which was killed when a tent pole fell on it.

The circus went bust and their last performance was in Pecos, Texas on September 10, 1938. At the time, show manager Dail Turney and Ruth were running the operation as Mix was in Europe doing a theater tour and trying to drum up business.

Circus expert Fred D. Pfening, Jr. wrote about the Mix show for the Circus Historical Society and their Bandwagon magazine. You'll find a link to Fred's full article on the links page. Following are several quotes from Fred's writeup which provide a good perspective on the Mix Circus as well as the circus business of the late 1930s:

"The 1936 Tom Mix Circus was the largest motorized show on the road."

Relating to the 1938 Mix Circus season: "Business was slow from the start; the show cut the admission price from 50 to 20 cents. Wages were falling behind. Forty-five people were let go in an economy move. The show suffered a blowndown In Neenah, Wisconsin on July 10."

Relating to the circus business in 1938: "The economy was closing in on the circus business. Downie Bros, closed on June 4, but reopened later in the season. Ringling-Barnum closed on June 25, and later sent part of the show to join the Al G. Barnes outfit. On July 4 Seils-Sterling closed. Cole Bros. threw in the towel on August 6 and Newton Bros. folded on August 10."

"Although the 1938 season finished off the Tom Mix Circus it was successful from 1935 to 1937. Mix had done what no other Hollywood cowboy accomplished. Buck Jones, Jack Hoxie, Ken Maynard and Tim McCoy all tried their hand at operating an under canvas show; all failed."

(Courtesy of Paul van der Vegt)

Thanks to Paul van der Vegt for the above Tom Mix Circus complimentary ticket. I asked Paul about the colors on his image scan - he confirmed that the paper is light green and the text is a darker green. The words "Tom Mix Circus" is purple.

(Courtesy of Donn & Nancy Moyer and the Jeannie Blair collection)
(Courtesy of Donn & Nancy Moyer and the Jeannie Blair collection)

Above right - a July, 1938 newspaper ad for a performance in Charles City, Iowa, and the admission price at that time was 60¢ for adults and 25¢ for children. In the fine print at the bottom, you'll see a mention of Ruth Mix along with 'Agee's Australian Hackneys'. Agee is renowned horse trainer Johnny Agee. After the Mix Circus ended, he and his horses went to work for Gene Autry.

(Courtesy of Donn & Nancy Moyer and the Jeannie Blair collection)

On the left is a 'route card' (postcard) covering stops during a two week period in the Spring of 1937.

Below, safely parked under a tent next to one of the circus trucks, is the Mix 'death car', the 1937 Cord Phaeton convertible.  Bud Norris adds that the truck on the right is a GMC tour bus.

(Courtesy of Donn & Nancy Moyer and the Jeannie Blair collection)

The ownership of the Mix death car has changed several times over the decades. The links below will take you to articles and photos on the 2011 restoration and ownership of Mix's Cord:

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