Thomas Edwin “Tom” Mix was an American film actor and the star of many early Western movies. He made a reported 336 films between 1910 and 1935, all but nine of which were silent features. He was Hollywood?s first Western megastar and is noted as having helped define the genre for all cowboy actors who followed.
Mix was born into a relatively poor logging family in Mix Run, Pennsylvania, about 40 miles north of State College, Pennsylvania. He spent his childhood growing up in nearby Dubois, Pennsylvania, learning to ride horses and working on the local farm owned by John Dubois, a lumber businessman. He had dreams of being in the circus and was rumored to have been caught by his parents practicing knife-throwing tricks against a wall, using his sister as an assistant.
In April 1898, during the Spanish-American War, he enlisted in the Army under the name Thomas E. Mix. His unit never went overseas, and Mix later failed to return for duty after an extended furlough when he married Grace I. Allin on July 18, 1902. Mix was listed as AWOL on November 4, 1902, but was never court-martialed nor apparently even discharged. His marriage to Allin was annulled after one year. In 1905 Mix married Kitty Jewel Perinne, but this marriage also ended within a year. In 1907 he married Olive Stokes.
In 1905 Mix rode in Theodore Roosevelt’s inaugural parade led by Seth Bullock with a group of 50 horsemen, which included several former Rough Riders After working a variety of odd jobs in the Oklahoma Territory, Mix found employment at the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch, reportedly the largest ranching business in the United States and covering 101,000 acres, hence its name. He stood out as a skilled horseman and expert shot, winning the 1909 national Riding and Rodeo Championship.