Western star Tom Mix killed in car crash (1940)

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Tom Mix dies in car crash near Florence [Arizona]

Screen and circus star is pinned under auto

Florence, Oct 12 — Tom Mix, cowboy actor and hero of scores of western thrillers of the silent film era, was killed 18 miles south of here today when he was pinned under his overturned automobile on a highway detour.

It was the 159th fatality resulting from motor vehicle accidents in Arizona since January 1.

Idol of millions

Mix, whose colorful career as a circus performer, soldier, law enforcement officer and motion picture star, made him the idol of millions the world over, was traveling alone from Tucson to Florence and Phoenix.

E O Devine, coroner, said Mix, 60 years old, apparently died instantly after losing control of his car. There will be no inquest. The body was brought here.

Neck is broken

tom-mix-portraitTwo highway employees, John Adams of Oracle and E A Armenta of Casa Grande, discovered the overturned vehicle.

Martin Younkers, Beloit, Wis, and Anthony Monts, Rockford, Illinois, who said mix had passed them on the highway north of Tucson, helped pull the actor’s body from under his racing model.

Younkers and Monts said a heavy suitcase had fallen against Mix’ head, burying his face in the soft ground. A physician reported later the blow broke his neck.

Local investigators said Mix, who left Tucson at 1pm, was serving as an advance agent for a circus scheduled to show in Phoenix soon. The cowboy star was carrying $6000 in cash, $1500 in travelers checks and several valuable jewels.

Mix was a native of Pennsylvania. He worked as a cowboy in Texas, Arizona, Wyoming and Montana and won national riding and roping contests at Prescott and at Canon City, Colo, in 1909 and 1910.

Hard-riding roles

During the years when he was identified with pictures, Mix always was cast as a hard-riding, gun-toting hero out to thwart unlawful acts in the day of the Wild West.

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In recent years, he has appeared in Wild West circus shows and for a time operated his own circus, the Tom Mix Wild West Show. He also made frequent vaudeville tours and in 1938 and 1939 made personal appearances in Europe.

Mix served with the United States Army in the Philippine Islands, in the Spanish American War and during the Boxer rebellion in China, winning a medal and citation. He was with the British Army at the siege of Ladysmith during the Boer war in South Africa.

Kansas, Oklahoma Sheriff

As a law enforcement officer, Mix was sheriff of Montgomery County, Kansas, and Washington County, Oklahoma, and later saw service as a deputy US Marshal in the Eastern Oklahoma district and with the Texas Rangers.

He was livestock foreman of the Miller Brothers “101” ranch, Bliss, Okla, from 1906 to 1909.

With the advent of talking pictures, Mix turned to circus and vaudeville work exclusively.


Final tribute paid Tom Mix

Glendale, Calif, Oct 16 – Tom Mix, peace officer, soldier, cowboy, movie hero and circus star, received the last respects of hundreds of friends today. He was buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery, last resting place of many film notables.

The little church where the rites were conducted could not contain the mourners, many of whom were friends of his film life and others of an earlier age of days on the open range.

stunt-tom-mix-horse-tony-may-1923On the lawn outside, 2000 curious onlookers gathered, some had pocket cameras and some had autograph books, as if they expected to see a multitude of celebrities.

There was little need for the cameras, none for the autograph books. The prominents who came to the funeral were few and they kept respectfully in the background. The best-known faces were those of other cowboy stars, Gene Autry, Buck Jones, Harry Carey, George O’Brien, William S Hart and Tex Ritter. Rank and file movie cowboys formed the bulk of those admitted to the church. There were bushels of expensive flowers.

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Los Angeles county’s sheriff, Eugene Biscailuz, who had known Mix for a quarter of a century, spoke of him as an officer and a gentleman “whose upright life inspired millions.” A Baptist minister, J Whitcomb Brougher, paid an unusual tribute: “I do not know many men in his sort of public life whom I would invite into my pulpit. Tom Mix was one of them.”

Rudy Valee sang “Empty Saddles” and a squad from Tom’s Spanish War Veterans’ post fired a volley over the grave.

Mix, who was 60 years old, was killed last Saturday in Arizona when his auto overturned.

Top photo: Tom Mix with his 1937 Cord 812 Convertible

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One Response

  1. Hi,
    My mother was Tom Mix’s cousin. I can remember she had signed pictures from him to her n a few other things of his in a trunk from her Grandmother’s house when she passed away in DuBois Pa. It was nice to see more history of his and of my mother’s history.

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