The son of a lumberman, Tom Mix joined the army as a young man and was an artillery sergeant during the Philippine campaign from 1898 to 1901, though he never saw action. In fact, Mix deserted from the army and carefully kept the facts about his military service a closely guarded secret. About 1903 he was drum major with the Oklahoma Cavalry Band, playing in the St. Louis World's Fair. In 1904 he was a bartender and sheriff/marshal in Dewey, Oklahoma. He was in a series of Wild West shows, such as The Miller Bros. Wild West Show, from 1906-1909; the Widerman show in Amarillo, Texas; with wife Olive Mix in Seattle's Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition; and Will A. Dickey's Circle D Ranch. The latter supplied Selig Pictures with cowboys and Indians for movies and, in 1910, Mix was hired by Selig to provide and handle horses. His first movie was Ranch Life in the Great Southwest (1910). He continued with Selig until 1917, writing and directing as well as acting. He was signed by Fox Films in 1917 and remained with them until 1928, averaging five or so films a year. His popularity eclipsed all other great cowboy stars (Hoot Gibson and even the legendary William S. Hart) of the silent era and he earned--and spent--millions.
In addition to Mix's riding and shooting skills, the films also showcased the talents of his amazing horse, Tony the Horse. Sound and encroaching middle age were not favorable to Mix, and after making a handful of pictures during the sound era he left the film industry after 1935's serial, The Miracle Rider (1935) (a huge hit for lowly Mascot Pictures, grossing over $1 million; Mix earned $40,000), touring with the Sells Floto Circus in 1930 and 1931 and the Tom Mix Circus from 1936 to 1938. While Mix was a great showman, the combination of the Depression and the high overhead of his traveling shows conspired against his success. Mix developed a comical style, emphasizing fast action thrills to a greater extent than had been common in earlier westerns, and he did his own stunts. He was king of the cowboys during the 1920s and remained popular on radio and in comic books for more than a decade after his death. He died in an auto accident in 1940.
|Mabel Hubbell Ward||(15 February 1932 - 12 October 1940) (his death)|
|Victoria Forde||(5 May 1918 - 24 December 1931) (divorced) 1 child|
|Olive Mix||(10 January 1909 - 1917) (divorced) 1 child|
|Jewell "Kitty" Perrine||(20 December 1905 - 1907) (divorced)|
|Grace I. Allen||(18 July 1902 - 1903) (annulled)|
Served as a pallbearer at the funeral of legendary western lawman Wyatt Earp in 1929.
Appears on sleeve of The Beatles' "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album.
Made over $6,000,000 during his career but an extravagant lifestyle had sharply reduced his estate to a modest amount by the time he died.
Rumors that that Mix's radio career never got off the ground after he left films because his voice was high-pitched are not true. His voice, in fact, was deep and husky in tone. Radio was such a low-paying profession that it could not support his high-on-the-hog style of living. He loved sports cars, wild parties and fancy clothes. He owned a huge Hollywood mansion that had his name emblazoned above it in neon lights and had numerous ex-wives to support. Mix instead left films for his true passion, the circus. He became one of its greatest showmen.
Tom's parents were Edwin and Elizabeth Mix. They named him Thomas Hezikiah Mix. When he enlisted in the Army in 1898, he listed his name as Thomas E. Mix (for Edwin).
Charter member of the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 1958.
He deserted the army to marry his first wife, Grace Allin; the fact that he was a deserter did not come up until after his death, by which time he was so famous that the army had to hold its tongue and give him a full military burial. This dovetails neatly into the known facts and into the legend of Tom Mix.
Daughter with Victoria Forde, Thomasina
4/13/02: His guns were stolen from the Tom Mix Museum in Dewey, OK.
Never had kind words for John Wayne because, many believe, he was afraid that Wayne would push him out of the limelight. That hatred grew as Wayne's star rose and, due to the fact that Mix wouldn't take a pay cut to do radio, his own star began to fall. Asked by a journalist what he thought of Wayne, Mix only replied, "The only Christian words that I could use are 'no-talent upstart'". Wayne, for his part, had disliked Mix since Wayne's college days at USC, when Mix told several members of the football team (Wayne among them) to stop by Fox Studios and he would get them jobs in the movies. Wayne and several others did so a few weeks later, only to be informed that Mix had never told anyone at the studio about his promises of employment, and they were thrown off the lot. Wayne never forgave Mix.
On October 12, 1940, while driving his 1937 Cord Sportsman through the Arizona desert he took a turn too fast, a suitcase broke loose and struck him in the head and his car plunged into a ravine. The ravine was later named "The Tom Mix Wash" in his honor. A plaque at the location reads: "TOM MIX January 6, 1880 - October 12, 1940 Whose spirit left his body on this spot and whose characterization and portrayals in life served to better fix memories of the old west in the minds of living men.".
He was Peter Cushing's childhood hero.
In 1904 he was a bartender and marshal in the small town of Dewey, OK, which is also the hometown of actor/filmmaker Adam Ropp. Ropp is a close friend of the Tom Mix Museum and visits on a regular basis. Ironically, Ropp's directorial debut (Last Conversation (2003)) was shot in Dewey and starred Mix's great, great grandnephew, Bret Mix.
At his funeral Rudy Vallee sang "Empty Saddles"
Despite stories to the contrary, he was not a member of President Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders in Cuba during the Spanish-American War.
Great uncle of DeWalt Mix.
Profiled in "Back in the Saddle: Essays on Western Film and Television Actors", Gary Yoggy, ed. (McFarland, 1998).
Author Clifford Irving wrote a "historical fiction" novel, "Tom Mix and Pancho Villa", about Mix's involvement with Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa and his supposedly joining Villa's army in the fight against dictator Porfirio Díaz in the bloody Mexican civil wars of the early 20th century. While it's known that Mix did spend time in Mexico during that violent era and had mentioned years later that he had in fact met Villa, it's not known if their association was as close as Irving claimed it was in the novel.
Credited with revolutionizing the Western film genre by eschewing realism in favor of more fantastical, lighthearted story lines and picturesque visual elements (clean, expensively tailored costumes, etc). He is often presented by film historians as the first 'rhinestone' cowboy.
According to author Jeff Guinn, he was good friends with Frank Hamer, the Texas Ranger who became famous for bringing to justice the members of the Newton Brothers gang (1924) and for tracking down the outlaws Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker (1934).
At one point during the height of his career, he had all his cars fitted with custom-manufactured tires specially molded to leave tracks with his initials TM in the road.
He never thought much of his acting ability. Once when a director asks him to change expressions, he responded "Which one do you want? One? two? or three?".
[of his famous horse, Tony the Horse] I've owned Tony since he was born, 17 years ago. He is a good horse and will be for some time yet, as I have never extended him in work. He doesn't like this tour much, though, and has been getting cross about it. Several times he has tried to bite me within the last few days and once he succeeded.
I try to make the pictures so that when a boy pays, say, 20 cents to see it, he will get 20 cents worth, not 10. If I drop, you see, it would be like putting my hand in his pocket and stealing a dime.
Years ago I used to live in a cow-camp, where a bed and a knife, fork, spoon were all the things I could look forward to in the evening. Now I live in what is known as a gentleman's estate. There is a big house and a lawn in front of which Barnum and Bailey could put all their tents. There are tennis courts and a swimming pool with so many different-colored tiles that you feel ashamed to get in with only an ordinary bathing suit. I go back to this place in the evening and wander around. Nothing there but dignity.
|Stepping Fast (1923)||$4,000/week|
|The Rainbow Trail (1925)||$20,000/week|
|The Miracle Rider (1935)||$40,000|
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