Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Tom Mix made a reported 336 films between 1910 and 1935, all but 9 of them silent features. Tom Mix was Hollywood’s first larger-than-life Western megastar. His films defined the genre for all actors that followed.
Mix was born into a relatively poor logging family in Mix Run , Pennsylvania. This region is still a heavily wooded area about 40 miles (60 km) north of State College, PA. His parents named him Thomas Hezikiah Mix, but he stated it as Thomas E. Mix when he enlisted in the Army in April 1898. He served in a heavy artillery unit during the Spanish-American War. After re-enlisting in 1901, he failed to return to duty after a 1902 extended furlough for his honeymoon--but was never court martialed or, apparently, even discharged.
After working a variety of odd jobs in the Oklahoma Territory, Mix went on to work at the 101 Ranch, the largest ranching outfit in the US, with 101,000 acres (409 km²), hence the name 101. He distinguished himself as a horseman and expert shot, winning the 1909 national Riding and Rodeo Championship. Mix is rumored to have served a brief and undistinguished term with the Texas Rangers.
Mix was picked out to be a supporting cast member with the Selig Polyscope Company, one of the first silent film makers. His first shoot (1910) was “Ranch Life in the Great Southwest” and he showed off his signature style as a cattle wrangler. The film was a success and Tom Mix became a star. He performed in more than 100 films with Selig throughout the silent film era, and began to re-define what the western film was - less humdrum cowboying, and more breathless chase-the-bad-guys action. Mix's career in the movies lasted 26 years and made him $6,000,000.
Selig folded in 1917, and Tom Mix signed with Fox Films. He went on to make more than 160 films throughout the 1920s, each growing in plot and complexity as the matinee film became a Saturday staple for escapist American youth. These were “packaged” dramatic films, no longer attempting the documentary style of the Selig days, with clear-cut heroes and villains and a clean-cut cowboy always saving the day. (Ronald Reagan and John Wayne both watched Tom Mix films when they were boys.)
Tom Mix did his own stunts in almost all of his pictures, and was frequently injured.
Mix married five times and had two children. He died October 12, 1940, in an auto accident in Florence, Arizona in which he was killed by a suitcase. Mix was driving at night between Tucson, Arizona and Phoenix, Arizona on what was then a two-lane road in a convertible when he came to a bridge that had been washed away. Mix’s car catapulted across the empty space and crashed into the other side. Mix had been wearing his seat belt and might would have survived, but the metal-hardened suitcase he had packed and put on the seat behind him flew free and struck him in the back of the head, shattering his skull and killing him instantly. He is interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.
For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Tom Mix has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1708 Vine Street. In 1958, he was inducted posthumously into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. There is a Tom Mix museum in Dewey, Oklahoma and another in Mix Run , Pennsylvania.
See also: Other notable figures in Western films
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details