One for the Oklahoma History
In the early days of cinema, tales of cowboys and outlaws were not that far removed from reality. When the innovative film “The Great Train Robbery” was released in 1903, it was a box office smash, leading film makers to look westward for inspiration. The public could not get enough of cowboys fighting outlaws on the western plains and shoot-outs at the O.K. Corral. What better place to find trained cowboy and outlaw actors for their movies than the ranches of Oklahoma?
By 1929 each of the ‘Famous Foursome’ of silent-era cowboy movie star had roots in Oklahoma. Ken Maynard, Buck Jones, Hoot Gibson, and the much-celebrated Tom Mix started their careers on the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch near Ponca City. They worked as cowboys, competed in rodeos, and performed in the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch Wild West Show. As moving picture directors looked for new talent to feed the hunger for Western movies, they found ready-made actors in these men. They turned these real cowboys into reel cowboys, putting their rugged faces on the big screen for adoring audiences. At the height of his career, Tom Mix made $17,500 a week.
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