This & That

Story published: 10-10-2012 • Print ArticleE-mail Story to a Friend

Cowboy stars of the silver screen

By Jack Swift

It has been awhile since I featured in this column some of the Cowboy stars that were once a huge draw at theatres across this land. The youngsters liked them and I suspect many adults were fans of them also.

The Capital, the Paramount, the Majestic and many other theatres were crowded on Saturday night, the usual night for movies of the western genre. Here in Mountain City folks turned out for a movie at the Strand that was located on the left side of Main Street looking west from the traffic light in mid-town.

Later a theater called The Taylor Theatre came to town. It was located about where the upper part of Johnson County Bankís parking lot is now. For a while The Mountaineer Drive-in Theatre was located somewhere in the area or south of where the Pioneer Village Shopping Center is now.

Of course Westerns were not the only movies shown, but they were pretty regular on Saturday. Usually there was a matinee with a night show as well.

One western star that had quite a following was Ken Maynard. Unfortunately, Maynard was not as popular among the people he worked with nor with his superiors.

We often project a starís persona as depicted on the screen unto their real life. Maynardís real life was somewhat less than heroic but he was quite the hero in many low budget movies. Maynard ground out quite a number of films ó most were westerns but a few were not.

He also performed with some circuses, rodeos and wild west shows. As with most of the western film heroes he owned a special horse. His horseís name was Tarzan.

I read somewhere that he had a gigantic ego and gave everybody a hard time. He made a great deal of money but squandered it and ultimately died in poverty.

I guess the moral to that story is what you see on the screen is not necessarily what the actor is like in real life. Maynard was born July 21, 1895 in Vevay, Indiana. He died March 23, 1973 in Los Angeles, California.

In contrast to the life of Maynard is the life and times of Tom Mix. Tom Mix was a hero in real life as well. He made many silent movies but only a few after sound movies came along.

He was soldier at certain times during his lifetime, a stunt man in his own movies, and was looked upon by his fans as a real man. Mixís famous steed was Tony the Wonder Horse who could do a lot of tricks.

I remember well the Tom Mix radio program, a 15-minute serial that featured action and interesting dialog. Ralston Purina Cereal sponsored the Tom Mix program. Of course someone else played Mix in the radio program. His name remained popular on radio and in comic books long after his death.

I remember being very disappointed as a youngster when the program went off the air. Tom Mix was born January 6, 1880 in Mix Run Pennsylvania and died in a car accident October 12, 1940 at Florence, Arizona.

While Mix made a great deal of money and led an opulent lifestyle, reportedly he was kind and got along well with the people with whom he