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Tom Mix (1880 - 1940)

Cowboy Movie Star

When Tom Mix first met "Tony," he was heartbroken over the loss of his horse "Blue." Blue and Tom rode together in many Westerns, and a cowboy without his horse is about the saddest story there is. At this time, Tony was considered untrainable - he just didn't care. About all he was good for, maybe, was doubling for other horses. Horse wrangler Pat Crissman gave Tom the large sorrel (spending exactly $12.50 for the animal when he first acquired him). This was just the tonic for man and beast. Tom fell in love with Tony, and Tony found himself a father and a friend.

Tony became so popular that he was the main attraction on a few of their films together. Tony loved making movies, and didn't mind so much when he was doubled in some scenes. After all, Tom took the same precautions. There were many "Tonys" in reserve, but only one original. Tony was subject to bouts of temperament. One trick that worked wonders was a three-piece orchestra hired by Tom to play popular, upbeat tunes. He was just proving the adage that "music calms the savage beast."

Tony was sometimes joined on the screen by Tom's pet great Dane, "Duke." After completing a film called Teeth (Fox Film Corp., 1924), Tom had this to say about his two best friends, "There is a great rivalry between Tony, my horse, and Duke, my dog. Each feels himself the star of Teeth. I, myself, according to their point of view, am only one of the cast. There's a good deal to be said on both sides, when it comes to their relative importance. Tony, of course, claims precedence because he has already starred in his own story — Just Tony [Fox Film Corp., 1922]. He feels that Duke is nothing but a beginner. Duke, however, has worked with me in seventeen pictures - which is quite as good a record as Tony's. The truth is that they are both wonderful workers. I know that a lot of people, watching their almost human actions in Teeth, will think it must be the result of a lot of training, but that isn't so. I have never trained Tony, nor have I taught Duke any tricks. I have owned both since they were youngsters. Painstakingly at times, I have showed each just what I wanted him to do and they both have understood. When it comes to training, as understood by men who do this kind of work, Duke and Tony know nothing. They are just smart and well-behaved horse and dog."

Tony outlived his beloved master by a couple of years. Tom Mix was killed, in 1940, in a weird automobile accident that took place in the middle of the desert. His head crushed by a suitcase that flew off the rear shelf of his single-seated roadster. Today, both Tom and Tony remain immortal.