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October 20, 2014

Struth! Cowboy's tall tales


IN his continuing search for the more weird, wacky and wondrous in the world of travel, David Ellis says that in October 1940 the world mourned the loss of silent movie star Tom Mix who died in bizarre circumstances in a car crash in Arizona.

At one stage earning up to US$17,500 a week (about $240,000 today,) Mix made 291 full-length movies, with his Press Agent promoting him as a genuine cowboy, and a Wild West hero who'd fought in the Spanish-American War, the Boxer Rebellion and the Boer War, and had been a Sheriff, a U.S. Marshal and a Texas Ranger…

Cowboy Tom Mix and his Cord

While he'd once been a ranch cowboy that was about it: in truth Tom Mix was an Army deserter who simply walked off-camp one day and never returned, and was a drum major in a Cavalry Band in Oklahoma before heading to Hollywood to try his luck there in 1909. When sound movies arrived, he had difficulty making the transition and appeared in only nine before exiting stage left.

Visitors to Florence in Arizona today can see a 60cm high iron statue of a riderless horse next to a dry creek bed in which Mix crashed his V8 Cord Phaeton sports car on October 12 1940 – after he'd swung off the road at speed to avoid a wash-away, and an aluminium suitcase on the backseat had speared forward breaking his neck and crushing his skull.

That "Suitcase of Death" is on display at the Tom Mix Museum in Dewey, Oklahoma.

THEY SAID IT: I'm not a paranoid, deranged millionaire. God dammit, I'm a billionaire.
(Howard Hughes)


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