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Jay Silverheels Biography

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Jay Silverheels

Birthdate:   26 May 1912
Website: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0798855/
Category: TV

Jay Silverheels, a full-blooded Mohawk, was a champion wrestler, a boxer, and a star lacrosse player with Canada's national team before setting his sights on Hollywood. He worked as a stuntman and extra before landing some bit parts in the early 1940s, almost always credited as simply "Indian" or "Indian Brave". He started to gain some notice in 1948 when John Huston cast him as Tom Osceola in Key Largo but it was television, not the movies, that would bring him fame.

In 1949, Silverheels landed the role of Tonto, the Lone Ranger's faithful sidekick, and found himself forever typecast. He continued to act in movies, appearing several times as Geronimo, but he was often called upon to perform as Tonto for commercials and comic spots long after the series ended. He founded the Indian Actors' Workshop in 1966 with Will Sampson and offered free classes for Native Americans who wanted to work in the industry. Silverheels was partially paralyzed by a series of strokes in 1975 and died in 1980.

Born Harold Jay Smith, Silverheels legally changed his name in 1971. He was the symbolic Indian to an entire generation but, more importantly, he was an inspiration for aboriginal actors and an activist to improve the portrayal of Native peoples on television and in the movies.


Features & TV Movies:

Captain from Castile (1947)
Fury at Furnace Creek (1948)
The Prairie (1948)
Singing Spurs (1948)
Yellow Sky (1948)
Key Largo (1948)
Sand (1949)
Lust for Gold (1949)
The Feathered Serpent (1949)
For Those who Dare (1949)
Laramie (1949)
Trail of the Yukon (1949)
The Cowboy and the Indians (1949)

Broken Arrow (1950)
Red Mountain (1951)
Brave Warrior (1952)
Battle of Apache Pass (1952)
The Will Rogers Story (1952)
Yankee Buccaneer (1952)
The Pathfinder (1952)
Jack McCall - Desperado (1953)
The Nebraskan (1953)
War Arrow (1953)
Saskatchewan (aka O'Rourke of the Royal Mounted - 1954)
4 Guns to the Border (1954)
The Black Dakotas (1954)
Drums Across the River (1954)
Masterson of Kansas (1954)
The Vanishing American (1955)
The Lone Ranger (1956)
Walk the Proud Land (1956)
Return of Warbow (1958)
The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold (1958)
Alias Jesse James (1959)

Indian Paint (1966)
Smith! (1969)
True Grit (1969)
The Phynx (1969)

TV Series - Cast:
The Lone Ranger (1952 - 1956)

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Last updated: 16-09-07      Hits: 11154