He was a man whose bravado, wide grin, and steely eyes charmed the silver screen. With the help of “Tony the Wonder Horse,” he made early Hollywood his home and dominated the Western film industry. His name was Tom Mix, and he had just stepped off the train onto the rugged, windswept terrain of Cedar City, Utah.
Some Iron County residents noted it was “the greatest reception since the coming of President Harding” when Tom Mix came to town in 1924. Even Commander Gronway Parry, leader of the Cedar Post of the American Legion, was there to greet the famed cowboy star and his company. Along with thirty other members of the Legion, Commander Parry and Mix mounted their horses and rode to the El Escalante Hotel on Main Street, while Mix’s wife and company were escorted in cars of the Utah-Arizona Parks Transportation Company.
The Hollywood star was on his way to filming The Deadwood Coach, a silent Western picture based on Clarence E. Mulford’s novel The Orphan. Besides the film, though, Tom Mix engaged in several other activities like giving support to Mormonism after its backlash in the film Riders of the Purple Sage and promoting a positive image to children and young adults.
The Deadwood Coach, shot primarily in Zion and Bryce Canyon, features the iconic cliffs and rock formations indigenous to Southern Utah’s landscape, the likes of which Tom Mix had never seen. The star was simply overwhelmed by the beauty and charm of Southern Utah and sought to share that beauty with the rest of the world. Mix assured that “subtitles in The Deadwood Coach will tell theatre patrons throughout the world that the scenes were shot in Utah.”
In the budding town of Cedar City, Utah, Tom Mix’s arrival seemed to be the pinnacle of excitement. The hysteria, though, wasn’t only brought about by these things alone. Mix was set to be a part of the Cedar City Rodeo, in which he’d announce, perform stunts with Tony, and put his boxing skills to the test. It truly was hats off to the Hollywood man.
Unfortunately for the many Tom Mix fans in Iron County, the star would not appear at the Cedar City Rodeo after filming. Beckoned back to Hollywood by Fox Studios, Mix said goodbye to the Beehive State while giving his deepest and most sincere regrets.