Sunday, January 19, 2020

Tim McCoy, Early Western Actor of Renown

By Timothy England, Author

Timothy John Fitzgerald McCoy (1891 - 1978) was an American Indians Liaison, Technical Advisor, Buffalo Wrangler, Actor, Producer, and a Writer. He was truly one of the great stars of early American Westerns.

McCoy was the son of an Irish soldier who later became police chief of Saginaw, Michigan, which was where McCoy was born. He attended St. Ignatius College in Chicago and, after seeing a Wild West show there, he left school, finding work on a ranch in Wyoming. He became an expert horseman, roper, and he developed a keen knowledge of the ways and languages of the Indian tribes in the area where he lived.

McCoy competed in numerous rodeos. He eventually enlisted in the U.S. Army when America entered the First World War. He was commissioned and he rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. At the end of the war, he returned to his ranch in Wyoming. It wasn't long after that be was called upon by Wyoming Governor Bob Carry who assigned him to the post of Adjutant General. McCoy held this post until 1921.

The position of Adjutant General carried with it the rank of Brigadier General (a brevet promotion). It's been reported that this action made McCoy the youngest general officer in the U.S. Army. His reputation as a friend to the Wind River Reservation Indians--both Arapahoe and Shoshone--preceded him. Thus, in 1922, he was asked by the head of Famous Players-Lasky, [Jesse L. Lasky], to provide Indian extras for the Western extravaganza, [The Covered Wagon] (1923).

McCoy eventually resigned from the state position. This is when he recruited several hundred Indians to the Utah movie location. When the film wrapped, he was asked to choose several Indians to accompany him to Hollywood. There, the production company developed a live 'prologue' to be presented just prior to the movie showing. The idea was a success and McCoy and his Indian group toured the U.S. as well as Europe.

After completing the U.S. and European tours, McCoy returned to Hollywood where he used his connections to obtain further work in the movies, both as a technical advisor and eventually as an actor. MGM signed him to a contract where he starred in a series of Westerns. McCoy rapidly rose to stardom, making scores of Westerns and occasional non-Westerns.

In 1935, he left Hollywood, first to tour with the Ringling Brothers Circus and then with his own Wild West show. His 1938 Wild West Show cost over $300,000 to mount and closed in bankruptcy in just 28 days. He returned to films in 1940, in a series teaming him with [Buck Jones] and [Raymond Hatton], but World War II and Jones's death in 1942 ended the project. McCoy returned to the Army for the war and served with the Army Air Corps in Europe where he won several decorations and a promotion to that of full Colonel.

He retired from the army and from films after the war, but emerged in the late 1940s for a few more films and some television work. In 1942 he ran for the Republican Nomination for the U.S. Senate in Wyoming. He was defeated and returned to Hollywood and an uncertain future.

In 1946, he sold his Wyoming ranch and moved to Bucks County, Pennsylvania where he led the life of the gentleman farmer. While there, he met and married Danish writer Inga Arvad. The couple had two boys and Tim spent more time on the outdoor show stage. In the meantime, he built a home in Nogales, Arizona. It was here that Inga died, in 1973. Upon her death, McCoy retired, spending his later years as a retired gentleman rancher. He toured for 13 years with the Tommy Scott Show. He died of Congestive heart failure at the U.A. Army hospital at Ft. Hauchuca, Arizona on January 29 1978 at the age of 86.

About the Author
On the family farm just outside Nashville, Timothy England grew up surrounded by the beautiful Tennessee hillside where his imagination loved to roam.

His lifelong love of westerns has culminated in his debut novel, Track Down, the first installment in his series centering around US Marshall Jake Boone. To date, Timothy, under the pseudonym Jess Bryan, has written four books, all of them available from Amazon.

Timothy is the author of Track Down, a Western thriller. As United States Marshall, Jake Boone, is hot on the trail of the dangerous Stanton, circumstance pushes his skills and his wits to the limits. Will he be able to live up to his own legend and keep things safe? Or has 'Killer Jake' met his match finally? For more information on this and three other books written by Timothy English, go to:

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