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Timothy John Fitzgerald “Tim” McCoy (April 10, 1891 – January 29, 1978) was an American actor

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.

December 13, 2015 cowboyrons@gmail.com COWBOYS AND SIDEKICKS 0

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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.

Contents

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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 (now Loyola) 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 theUnited 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-LaskyJesse 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.

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