Hand-Inscribed Preprint Photo Card and Badge - 1930s
Scarce hand-inscribed name on preprint-signed picture card of Tom Mix and his horse Tony “The Wonder Horse”, inscribed “To my Straight Shooter Pal Lillian with best wishes Tom Mix.” Also included is an original Straight Shooter Club Silver Luster Badge from the 1930s with the “TM” brand over the familiar Ralston checkerboard background.
TOM MIX (1880-1940; born Thomas Hezikiah 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 defined the genre for all cowboy actors who followed.
Tom Mix did all his own tricks and he and Tony, “The Wonder Horse” made 181 movies together. The Mix films were loaded with fantastic stunts, furious shootouts, romance, and were set in beautiful, colorful western locations such as Lone Pine, California, and always manifested an element of comedy. Tony, with his white stocking rear feet, became the most popular, photographed and recognized horse in the world, receiving thousands of fan letters from children around the world. With Tom Mix astride Tony, the action packed duo earned millions.
The Great Depression (along with the actor’s free spending ways and many wives) had reportedly wiped out most of his savings. Universal Pictures approached him in 1932 with an offer to do talkies which included script and cast approval. He did 9 pictures for Universal, but because of injuries he received while filming he was reluctant to continue with any more. Mix then appeared with the Sam B. Dill circus, which he reportedly bought two years later (1935). In 1933 Ralston (later to become Ralston-Purina) obtained his permission to produce a Tom Mix radio series, Tom Mix Ralston Straight Shooters, which, except for one year during World War II, was popular throughout most of the 1930s and into the early 1950s. (Mix never appeared on these broadcasts and was instead played by voice actors.) He formed the Tom Mix Straight Shooters Club of America, the world-famous radio series that ran from the early 1930s for nearly 20 years. “Straight Shooters” were given a special manual to learn the secret handshake and secret password of the club, and they received other premiums such as “TM rings made from lucky horseshoe nails”, and official “Straight Shooter Badges” identifying club members.
Mix’s last screen appearance was a 15 episode serial for Mascot Pictures called The Miracle Rider (1935), for which he was paid $40,000 for four weeks of filming. He had reportedly made over $6,000,000 (approaching $400 million in early 21st century, inflation adjusted values) during his 26 year career in the movies.
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