Tim McCoy

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Tim McCoy
Born (1891-04-10)April 10, 1891
Saginaw, Michigan, U.S.
Died January 29, 1978(1978-01-29) (aged 86)
Ft. Huachuca, Sierra Vista, Arizona, U.S.
Other names Col. T.J. McCoy
Col. Tim McCoy
Colonel Tim McCoy
Occupation Actor, showman, television host
Years active 1925–1965

Timothy John Fitzgerald "Tim" McCoy (April 10, 1891 – January 29, 1978) was an American actor, military officer, and expert on American Indian life and customs.

Early years[edit]

Born the son of an Irish Union Civil War soldier who later became police chief in Saginaw, he became a major film star most noted for his roles in Western films. He was so popular with youngsters as a cowboy star that he appeared on the cover of Wheaties cereal boxes.

He attended St. Ignatius College in Chicago and after seeing a wild west show there, left school and found work on a ranch in Wyoming. He became an expert horseman and roper and developed a knowledge of the ways and languages of the American Indian tribes in the area. He competed in numerous rodeos, then enlisted in the United States Army when America entered World War I.

Military career[edit]

McCoy was a decorated soldier in the United States Army during World War I (although not in combat or overseas)[1] and again in World War II in Europe, rising to the rank of colonel with the Army Air Corps and Army Air Forces. He also served the state of Wyoming as its adjutant general between the wars with the brevet rank of brigadier general. At 28, he was one of the youngest brigadier generals in the history of the U.S. Army.

McCoy was a renowned expert in Indian sign language and was named "High Eagle" by the Arapaho tribe of the Wind River reservation.

Acting career[edit]

Early career[edit]

In 1922, he was asked by the head of Famous Players-Lasky, Jesse L. Lasky, to provide American Indian extras for the Western extravaganza, The Covered Wagon (1923). He brought hundreds of "his" Indians to the Utah location and served as technical advisor on the film. After the filming was completed, McCoy was asked to bring a much smaller group of Indians to Hollywood, for a stage presentation preceding each showing of the film. McCoy's stage show was very popular, running eight months in Hollywood and several more months in London and Paris. McCoy returned to his Wyoming ranch, but Irving Thalberg of MGM soon signed him to a contract to star in a series of outdoor adventures and McCoy rose to stardom. His first MGM feature was War Paint (1926), featuring epic scenes of the Wind River Indians on horseback, staged by McCoy and director Woody Van Dyke. (Footage from War Paint was reused in many low-budget westerns, well into the 1950s.) War Paint set the tone for future McCoy westerns, in that Indians were always portrayed sympathetically, and never as bloodthirsty savages. One notable McCoy feature for MGM was The Law of the Range (1928), in which he starred with Joan Crawford.

The coming of talking pictures, and the temporary inability to record sound outdoors, resulted in MGM terminating its Tim McCoy series and McCoy returning once more to his ranch. In 1929 he was summoned back to Hollywood personally by Carl Laemmle of Universal Pictures, who insisted that McCoy would star in the first talking western serial, The Indians Are Coming. The serial was very successful, and McCoy worked steadily in movies until 1936, when he left Hollywood, first to tour with the Ringling Brothers Circus and then with his own "wild west" show. The show was not a success and is reported to have lost $300,000, of which $100,000 was McCoy's own money. It folded in Washington, D.C. and the cowboy performers were each given $5 and McCoy's thanks. The Indians on the show were returned to their respective reservations by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

McCoy was available for pictures again in 1938, and low-budget producers (including Maurice Conn and Sam Katzman) engaged him at his standard salary of $4000 weekly, for eight films a year. In 1941 Buck Jones recruited McCoy to co-star in "The Rough Riders" series, alongside Jones and Raymond Hatton. The eight films, released by Monogram Pictures, were very popular, and might have continued but McCoy declined to renew his contract, opting to pursue other interests.

Interrupted by World War II[edit]

In 1942, McCoy ran for the Republican nomination for the open US Senate Seat from Wyoming. Interestingly enough, during that campaign, he established the first state-wide radio hookup in Wyoming broadcasting history. He lost in the primary and within 48 hours volunteered for active duty with the U.S. Army.

He had maintained his Army Reserve commission and was immediately accepted. McCoy spent the war in the U.S. Army and performed liaison work with the Army Air Forces in Europe, winning several decorations. He retired from the army and, according to lore, never lived in Wyoming again. His "Eagle's Nest" ranch was sold. He retired from films after the war, except for a few cameo appearances much later.

Television host[edit]

McCoy hosted a KTLA television show in Los Angeles in 1952, called "The Tim McCoy Show", for children on weekday afternoons and Saturdays, in which he provided authentic history lessons on the Old West and showed his old western movies. His co-host was the actor Iron Eyes Cody who, while of Italian lineage, played an American Indian both on and off screen. McCoy won a local Emmy but didn't attend to receive the award. He was competing against "Webster Webfoot" in the "Best Children's Show" category and refused to show up, saying, "I'll be damned if I'm going to sit there and get beaten by a talking duck!"

Legacy[edit]

For his contribution to the film industry, Col. Tim McCoy was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1973, McCoy was inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. McCoy was inducted into the Cowboy Hall of Fame in 1974. On January 16, 2010 McCoy was inducted into the Hot Springs County (Wyoming) Hall of Fame. He ranched in the county for over 30 years. Accepting the honor on his behalf was his son Terry. Included in the 2010 class were Governor Dave Freudenthal of the State of Wyoming, Chief Justice of the Wyoming Supreme Court Bart Voigt, former Wyoming state treasurer Stan Smith, and local high school teacher Karl Allen.

Personal life[edit]

McCoy married Agnes Miller, the daughter of stage actor and producer Henry Miller and actress Bijou Heron. Their marriage resulted in three children: son Gerald, daughter Margarita, and son D'Arcy. They were divorced in 1931 and McCoy kept a portion of the ranch holdings in Hot Springs County, Wyoming. Agnes McCoy was rewarded with that portion known as the "Eagles Nest".[citation needed]

His second marriage was to Inga Arvad in 1946.[2] They had two sons, Ronnie and Terry. McCoy was married to Arvad until her death from cancer in 1973. Arvad was a Danish journalist investigated in the early 1940s due to rumors that she was a Nazi spy, rumors that spawned from photographs of Arvad as Adolf Hitler's companion at the 1936 Olympics and that she had twice interviewed him. Arvad had two previous marriages and an affair with John F. Kennedy in late 1941 into 1942. Arvad was already being followed by the FBI when Kennedy was introduced to her. J. Edgar Hoover had his agents extend their investigation through wire-taps.[3] There was no evidence found to show Arvad was guilty of "any wrongdoing" but that didn't deter Hoover's FBI from continued wire-taps of Arvad and Kennedy when they were together.[4]

Later years[edit]

In 1973, Tim McCoy was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He also was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1976 he was interviewed at length by author James Horwitz for the cowboy memoir "They Went Thataway." Tim McCoy's final appearance was in Kevin Brownlow-David Gill's television history of silent films, Hollywood (1980).

McCoy died in on January 29, 1978, at the Raymond W. Bliss Army Medical Center of Ft. Huachuca in Sierra Vista, Arizona.[5] He was later cremated, and his ashes were returned to his Nogales home. Nine years later, his remains, and those of wife Inga, who had died in 1973, were returned to his birthplace at Saginaw, Michigan for burial there in the Mount Olivet Cemetery next to his family's plot.

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1925 The Thundering Herd Burn Hudnall
1926 War Paint Lt. Tim Marshall
1927 Winners of the Wilderness Col. O'Hara
California Capt. Archibald Gillespie
The Frontiersman John Dale
Foreign Devils Capt. Robert Kelly
Spoilers of the West Lt. Lang
1928 The Law of the Range Jim Lockhart
Wyoming Lt. Jack Colton
Riders of the Dark Lt. Crane
The Adventurer Jim McClellan
Beyond the Sierras The Masked Stranger
The Bushranger Edward
1929 Morgan's Last Raid Capt. Daniel Clairbourne
The Overland Telegraph Capt. Allen
Sioux Blood Flood
The Desert Rider Jed Tyler
1930 The Indians Are Coming Jack Manning 12 chapter serial
1931 Heroes of the Flames Bob Darrow 12 chapter serial
The One Way Trail Tim Allen
Shotgun Pass Tim Walker
The Fighting Marshal Tim Benton
1932 The Fighting Fool Sheriff Tim Collins
Texas Cyclone 'Texas' Grant (Jim Rawlings)
The Riding Tornado Tim Torrant
Two-Fisted Law Tim Clark
Daring Danger Tim Madigan
Cornered Sheriff Tim Laramie
Fighting for Justice Tim Keene
The Western Code Tim Barrett
End of the Trail Captain Tim Travers
1933 Man of Action Tim Barlow
Silent Men Tim Richards
The Whirlwind Tim Reynolds
Rusty Rides Alone Tim 'Rusty' Burke
Police Car 17 Tim Conlon
Hold the Press Tim Collins
Straightaway Tim Dawson
1934 Speed Wings
Voice in the Night Tim Dale
Hell Bent for Love Police Captain Tim Daley
A Man's Game Tim
Beyond the Law Tim Weston
Prescott Kid Tim Hamlin
The Westerner Tim Addison
1935 Square Shooter Tim Baxter
Law Beyond the Range Tim McDonald
The Revenge Rider Tim O'Neil
Fighting Shadows Constable Tim O'Hara
Justice of the Range Tim Condon
The Outlaw Deputy Tim Mallory
Riding Wild Tim Malloy/Tex Ravelle
Man from Guntown Tim Hanlon
Bulldog Courage Slim Braddock/Tim Braddock
1936 Roarin' Guns Tim Corwin
Border Caballero Tim Ross
Lightnin' Bill Carson U. S. Marshal 'Lightnin' Bill Carson
Aces and Eights 'Gentleman' Tim Madigan
The Lion's Den Tim Barton
Ghost Patrol Tim Caverly
The Traitor Sergeant Tim Vallance, Texas Rangers
1938 West of Rainbow's End Tim Hart
Code of the Rangers Tim Strong
Two Gun Justice Tim
Phantom Ranger Tim Hayes
Lightning Carson Rides Again 'Lightning Bill' Carson, posing as Jose as Colonel Tim McCoy
Six-Gun Trail Captain William 'Lightning Bill' Carson
1939 Code of the Cactus 'Lightning' Bill Carson posing as Miguel
Texas Wildcats 'Lightning' Bill Carson
Outlaws' Paradise Captain William 'Lightning Bill' Carson / Trigger Mallory
Straight Shooter 'Lightning' Bill Carson / Sam Brown
The Fighting Renegade Lightning Bill Carson aka El Puma
Trigger Fingers 'Lightning' Bill Carson
1940 Texas Renegades Silent Tim Smith
Frontier Crusader 'Trigger' Tim Rand
Gun Code Marshal Tim Hammond, alias Tim Hays
Arizona Gang Busters 'Trigger' Tim Rand
Riders of Black Mountain Marshal Tim Donovan
1941 Outlaws of the Rio Grande Marshal Tim Barton
The Texas Marshal Marshal 'Trigger Tim' Rand
Arizona Bound Marshal Tim McCall, posing as 'Parson" McCall
The Gunman from Bodie Marshal McCall
Forbidden Trails Marshal Tim McCall, posing as Ace Porter
1942 Below the Border Marshal Tim McCall
Ghost Town Law Marshal Tim McCall
Down Texas Way U. S. Marshal Tim McCall
Riders of the West Marshal Tim McCall
West of the Law Marshal Tim McCall
1952 The Tim McCoy Show (TV) Himself
1956 Around the World in Eighty Days Colonel, U.S. Cavalry as Col. Tim McCoy
1957 Run of the Arrow Gen. Allen as Colonel Tim McCoy
1965 Requiem for a Gunfighter Judge Irving Short

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ McCoy, T. (1988). Tim McCoy Remembers the West. Bison Books. ISBN 0-8032-8155-2.
  2. ^ McCoy, T. (1988). Tim McCoy Remembers the West, p. 260
  3. ^ Matthews, Chris (2011). Jack Kennedy, pp. 44, 45
  4. ^ Hersh, Seymour (1997), The Dark Side of Camelot, p. 83
  5. ^ "Movie star Tim McCoy dies of heart ailment". New Castle News (New Castle, PA). UPI. January 31, 1978. 
Bibliography
  • Tim McCoy Remembers the West: An Autobiography by Tim McCoy and Ronald McCoy (1977)

Hardback:

ISBN 0-385-12798-7
ISBN 978-0-385-12798-1

Paperback:

ISBN 803281552
ISBN 978-0-8032-8155-4
  • Tim McCoy—A Wyoming Poet. RoundTop Records, LLC., Thermopolis, Wyoming

Paperback:

ISBN 978-0-9796970-0-5

DVD[edit]

  • Col. Tim McCoy's The Silent Language of the Plains! RoundTop Records, LLC. Thermopolis, Wyoming
ISBN 978-0-9796970-1-2

External links[edit]