Tom Mix stars in the 1918 Fox feature, "Western Blood," which was shot in the Santa Clarita Valley (although the pictured scene obviously wasn't).
8x10 glossy production still. No, your vision isn't failing you; Tom's boots are in focus but his face isn't.
Stamp on the back of the photograph reads: "William Fox presents / Tom Mix / in Western Blood / Written and Staged by Lynn Reynolds / Fox Film Corporation."
Tom's leading lady in this film is Victoria Forde. According to Birchard (1993), the two were paired in several Fox shorts, but this was the
only time Forde co-starred with Mix in a full-length Fox feature. "Western Blood" was released April 14, 1918; Tom (1880-1940) and Victoria (1896–1964) were married
less than a month later, on May 5, Tom having divorced his third wife, Olive Stokes, in 1917. Tom and Victoria's marriage produced a child and ended in divorce Jan. 4, 1932.
The following month, on Feb. 15, 1932, Tom wed for the fifth and final time. Mabel Hubbell Ward became his widow when he died in a 1940 car crash.
Additional credited cast members in "Western Blood" include Barney Furey,
Frank Clark, Pat Chrisman and a fairly young Buck Jones, who was credited as Buck Gebhart (Jones' birth name was Charles Frederick Gebhart).
This is one of many "lost" Tom Mix films. Birchard writes (pg. 133):
In 1937, 20th Century-Fox suffered a major vault fire at its East Coast storage facility, and the original negatives for virtually all of the Fox Film Corporation's silents and early talkies were lost. For years, it was thought that only two of Tom's eighty-five Fox pictures survived, "Sky High" (1922) and "Riders of the Purple Sage" (1925). However, in the late '60s, 20th Century-Fox embarked on a search for its early film heritage and a few more Mix titles turned up, including "The Untamed" (1920), "The Night Horsemen" (1921), "Trailin" and "Just Tony" (both 1922), "Soft Boiled" (1923), "The Rainbow Trail" and "Dick Turpin" (both 1925), "The Great K&A Train Robbery" (1926), and "The Last Trail" (1927). Another dozen or so titles turned up in Czechoslovakia, including "The Road Demon" (1921), "Teeth" (1924), "North of Hudson Bay" (1924), "The Best Bad Man" (1925), and "Oh, You Tony!" (1924). Unfortunately, the Czech versions generally survive in beat up exchange prints, with missing footage, and four-frame Czech flash titles, making them virtually incomprehensible. A print of "The Texan" (1920) is known to survive at the Danish Film Archive, and others may yet surface — although time is running out for any fragile nitrate prints that might rest in a forgotten vault, attic or garage as tantalizing fragments of "Hearts and Saddles" (1917) and "Fighting For Gold" (1919) attest.
Born in Mix Run, Penn., on Jan. 6, 1880, Tom Mix appeared in more than 300 films (counting "shorts")
from 1909 to 1935. He occasionally filmed in Newhall from 1916 to the mid-1920s and set up one of his early "Mixville"
Western movie towns between Spruce Street (now called Main Street) and Newhall Avenue.
A part-time Newhall resident during that period, Mix lived across the street (probably on Walnut Street) from the Thibaudeau home,
which was located at the southwest corner of Market Street and Newhall Avenue. In a televised
interview, lifelong Newhall resident Gladys Thibaudeau Laney (1910-2014) said she observed Tom buying his sidekick "wonder horse" Tony
on her family's property when she was a young girl. The timing works; Tom reportedly purchased Tony for $600 in 1917 from Pat Chrisman (1882-1953), a horse trainer
and actor friend who co-starred in a number of Mix films (Birchard 1993:118).
In the late Teens, Mix established his most famous
"Mixville" on Glendale Boulevard in the Silver Lake section of Los Angeles.
Prior to his movie career, Mix appeared in a series of Wild West shows where he was noticed by pioneering film producer Col. William N. Selig,
who hired him to handle horses. He worked with Selig, writing, directing and acting, until 1917, when
he signed with Fox to star in moving pictures alongside Tony.
Mix reached the height of his popularity during the 1920s, assuming the mantle of King of the Cowboys from William S. Hart,
who retired from filming in 1925. But Mix did not adapt well to "talkies," and his career waned in the 1930s.
His popularity remained intact, however, as he took his show on the road on the Western performance circuit. It was on the
road that he would perish, when his 1937 Cord sent him to an untimely demise on Oct. 12, 1940, south of Florence, Ariz.
Adding insult to injury and death, most of the 85 films he made with Fox were lost in a 1937 fire at the company's East Coast storage facility.
But Mix was remembered fondly through his radio show and comic books, which outlived him by more than a decade.