Tim McCoy

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Tim McCoy
Tim McCoy 1934.jpg
McCoy in 1934
Timothy John Fitzgerald McCoy

(1891-04-10)April 10, 1891
DiedJanuary 29, 1978(1978-01-29) (aged 86)
Other namesCol. T.J. McCoy
Col. Tim McCoy
Colonel Tim McCoy
  • Actor
  • showman
  • television host
Years active19251965
Agnes Miller
(m. 1931,divorced)
(m. 1946;died 1973)
Tim McCoy ad in Motion Picture News, 1926 MGM Westerns featuring Tim McCoy ad in Motion Picture News, 1926.jpg
Tim McCoy ad in Motion Picture News, 1926

Timothy John Fitzgerald McCoy (April 10, 1891 – January 29, 1978) was an American actor, military officer, and expert on American Indian life. McCoy is most noted for his roles in B-grade Western films. As a popular cowboy film star, he appeared in front of a Wheaties cereal box.


Early years

Tim McCoy was born in Saginaw, Michigan on April 10, 1891. His father was an Irish Union Civil War veteran and Police Chief. [1] While attending St. Ignatius College (now Loyola University) McCoy saw a Wild West show that influenced him to purchase a one-way ticket west. He ended up in Lander, Wyoming where he worked as a ranch hand. While there, he became an expert horseman and roper while developing an extensive knowledge of the customs and languages of the local American Indian tribes. [1] McCoy was a renowned expert in Indian sign language and was named "High Eagle" by the Arapaho tribe of the Wind River reservation. He also competed in numerous rodeos.

Military career

McCoy enlisted as a soldier in the U.S. Army and served in the cavalry during World War I (although he did not serve in combat nor overseas). [1] [2] He served again in World War II in Europe, rising to the rank of colonel with the Army Air Corps and Army Air Forces. He also served as adjutant general of Wyoming between the wars with the brevet rank of brigadier general. At 28, he was one of the youngest brigadier generals in the history of the U.S. Army.

Acting career

Early career

In 1922, David Townsend, president of the Mountain Plains Enterprise Film Company, planned to build "Sunshine Studios" at McCoy's Owl Creek Dude ranch in order to shoot a film titled, "The Dude Wrangler," written by Caroline Lockhart but the project was abandoned. [3]

Portrait from Tim McCoy ad in Motion Picture News, 1926 Portrait from Tim McCoy ad in Motion Picture News (weekly, July 3, 1926 to August 28, 1926) (page 464 crop) (cropped).jpg
Portrait from Tim McCoy ad in Motion Picture News, 1926

That same year, he was asked by the head of Famous Players–Lasky, Jesse L. Lasky, to provide American Indian extras for the Western extravaganza, The Covered Wagon (1923). He brought hundreds of Indians to the Utah location and served as a technical advisor on the film. After filming was completed, McCoy was asked to bring a much smaller group of Indians to Hollywood, for a stage presentation preceding each showing of the film.

McCoy's stage show was popular, running eight months in Hollywood and several more months in London and Paris. McCoy returned to his Wyoming ranch, but Irving Thalberg of MGM soon signed him to a contract to star in a series of outdoor adventures and McCoy rose to stardom. His first MGM feature was War Paint (1926), featuring epic scenes of the Wind River Indians on horseback, staged by McCoy and director Woody Van Dyke. (Footage from |War Paint was reused in many low-budget westerns, well into the 1950s.)

War Paint set the tone for future McCoy westerns, in that Indians were always portrayed sympathetically, and never as bloodthirsty savages. One notable McCoy feature for MGM was The Law of the Range (1928), in which he starred with Joan Crawford.

McCoy on horse in Gun Code, 1940 Gun Code lobby card.jpg
McCoy on horse in Gun Code, 1940

The coming of talking pictures, and the temporary inability to record sound outdoors, resulted in MGM terminating its Tim McCoy series and McCoy returning once more to his ranch. In 1929 he was summoned back to Hollywood personally by Carl Laemmle of Universal Pictures, who insisted that McCoy star in the first talking western serial, The Indians Are Coming . The serial was very successful. Later, in 1932, McCoy starred in Two Fisted Law with John Wayne and Walter Brennan.

McCoy worked steadily in movies until 1936, when he left Hollywood, first to tour with the Ringling Brothers Circus and then with his own "wild west" show. The show was not a success; it was reported to have lost $300,000, $100,000 of which was McCoy's own money. It folded in Washington, D.C., and the cowboy performers were each given $5 and McCoy's thanks. The Indians on the show were returned to their respective reservations by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

McCoy was available for pictures again in 1938, and low-budget producers (including Maurice Conn and Sam Katzman) engaged him at his standard salary of $4,000 weekly, for eight films a year. In 1941 Buck Jones recruited McCoy to co-star in "The Rough Riders" series, alongside Jones and Raymond Hatton. The eight films, released by Monogram Pictures, were very popular, and might have continued but McCoy declined to renew his contract, opting to pursue other interests.

Interrupted by World War II

In 1942, McCoy ran for the Republican nomination for the open U.S. Senate Seat from Wyoming. During that campaign, he established the first statewide radio hookup in Wyoming broadcasting history. He lost in the primary and within 48 hours volunteered for active duty with the U.S. Army.

He had maintained his Army Reserve commission and was immediately accepted. McCoy spent the war in the U.S. Army and performed liaison work with the Army Air Forces in Europe, winning several decorations. He retired from the army, and reportedly never lived in Wyoming again. His Eagle's Nest ranch was sold. He retired from films after the war, except for a few cameo appearances much later.

Television host

McCoy hosted a KTLA television show in Los Angeles in 1952, titled The Tim McCoy Show, for children on weekday afternoons and Saturdays, in which he provided authentic history lessons on the Old West and showed his old western movies. His co-host was the actor Iron Eyes Cody who, while of Italian lineage, played an American Indian both on and off screen. McCoy won a local Emmy but didn't attend to receive the award. He was competing against Webster Webfoot in the Best Children's Show category and refused to show up, saying "I'll be damned if I'm going to sit there and get beaten by a talking duck!"[ citation needed ]


For his contribution to the film industry, McCoy was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1973, he was inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. He was inducted into the Cowboy Hall of Fame in 1974.

On January 16, 2010, McCoy was inducted into the Hot Springs County (Wyoming) Hall of Fame. Accepting the honor on his behalf was his son, Terry. Included in the 2010 class were Governor Dave Freudenthal of the State of Wyoming, Chief Justice of the Wyoming Supreme Court Bart Voigt, former Wyoming state treasurer Stan Smith, and local high school teacher Karl Allen.

Personal life

McCoy married Agnes Miller, the daughter of stage actor and producer Henry Miller and actress Bijou Heron. Their marriage resulted in three children: son Gerald, daughter Margarita, and son D'Arcy. They were divorced in 1931, and McCoy kept a portion of the ranch holdings in Hot Springs County, Wyoming. Agnes McCoy was rewarded with that portion known as the Eagles Nest.[ citation needed ]

His second marriage was to Inga Arvad in 1947. [4] They had two sons, Ronnie and Terry. McCoy was married to Arvad until her death from cancer in 1973. Arvad was a journalist from Denmark, investigated by the FBI in the early 1940s due to rumors that she was a Nazi spy; there were photographs of Arvad as a guest of Adolf Hitler at the 1936 Olympics, and she had twice interviewed him. This investigation included the wiretapping of Arvad during the time of an affair with John F. Kennedy in late 1941 into 1942. No evidence against Arvad was ever found. [5] [6]

Later years

In 1973, McCoy was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He also was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1976, he was interviewed at length by author James Horwitz for the cowboy memoir They Went Thataway. McCoy's final, posthumous, appearance was in Hollywood (1980), Kevin Brownlow-David Gill's television history of silent films.

McCoy died on January 29, 1978, at the Raymond W. Bliss Army Medical Center of Ft. Huachuca in Sierra Vista, Arizona. [7] He was cremated and his ashes returned to his Nogales home. Nine years later his remains, and those of his wife, Inga, who had died in 1973, were returned to his birthplace at Saginaw, Michigan, for burial in the Mount Olivet Cemetery next to his family's plot.[ citation needed ]


Poster for The Fighting Fool (1932)
Daring Danger lobby card.jpg
Lobby card for Daring Danger (1932)
Poster for Texas Cyclone (1932)
Poster for Bulldog Courage (1935)
1925 The Thundering Herd Burn Hudnall
1926 War Paint Lt. Tim Marshall
1927 Winners of the Wilderness Col. O'Hara
California Capt. Archibald Gillespie
The Frontiersman John Dale
Foreign Devils Capt. Robert Kelly
Spoilers of the West Lt. Lang
1928 The Law of the Range Jim Lockhart
Wyoming Lt. Jack Colton
Riders of the Dark Lt. Crane
The Adventurer Jim McClellan
Beyond the Sierras The Masked Stranger
The Bushranger Edward
1929 Morgan's Last Raid Capt. Daniel Clairbourne
The Overland Telegraph Capt. Allen
Sioux Blood Flood
The Desert Rider Jed Tyler
1930 The Indians Are Coming Jack Manning12 chapter serial
1931 Heroes of the Flames Bob Darrow12 chapter serial
The One Way TrailTim Allen
Shotgun PassTim Walker
The Fighting Marshal Tim Benton
1932 The Fighting Fool Sheriff Tim Collins
Texas Cyclone 'Texas' Grant (Jim Rawlings)co-starred John Wayne
The Riding Tornado Tim Torrant
Two-Fisted Law Tim Clarkco-starred John Wayne
Daring Danger Tim Madigan
Cornered Sheriff Tim Laramie
Fighting for JusticeTim Keene
The Western Code Tim Barrett
End of the Trail Captain Tim Travers
1933Man of ActionTim Barlow
Silent Men Tim Richards
The Whirlwind Tim Reynolds
Rusty Rides Alone Tim 'Rusty' Burke
Police Car 17 Tim Conlon
Hold the Press Tim Collins
StraightawayTim Dawson
1934 Speed Wings Tim
Voice in the NightTim Dale
Hell Bent for Love Police Captain Tim Daley
A Man's Game Tim Bradley
Beyond the Law Tim Weston
The Prescott Kid Tim Hamlin
The Westerner Tim Addison
1935 Square Shooter Tim Baxter
Law Beyond the Range Tim McDonald
The Revenge Rider Tim O'Neil
Fighting Shadows Constable Tim O'Hara
Justice of the Range Tim Condon
The Outlaw DeputyTim Mallory
Riding Wild Tim Malloy / Tex Ravelle
Man from GuntownTim Hanlon
Bulldog Courage Slim Braddock / Tim Braddock
1936 Roarin' Guns Tim Corwin
Border Caballero Tim Ross
Lightnin' Bill Carson U. S. Marshal 'Lightnin' Bill Carson
Aces and Eights 'Gentleman' Tim Madigan
The Lion's Den Tim Barton
Ghost Patrol Tim Caverly
The Traitor Sergeant Tim Vallance, Texas Rangers
1938 West of Rainbow's End Tim Hart
Code of the Rangers Tim Strong
Two Gun Justice Tim
Phantom Ranger Tim Hayes
Lightning Carson Rides Again 'Lightning Bill' Carson, posing as Joseas Colonel Tim McCoy
Six-Gun Trail Captain William 'Lightning Bill' Carson
1939 Code of the Cactus 'Lightning' Bill Carson posing as Miguel
Texas Wildcats 'Lightning' Bill Carson
Outlaws' Paradise Captain William 'Lightning Bill' Carson / Trigger Mallory
Straight Shooter 'Lightning' Bill Carson / Sam Brown
The Fighting Renegade Lightning Bill Carson aka El Puma
Trigger Fingers'Lightning' Bill Carson
1940 Texas Renegades Silent Tim Smith
Frontier Crusader 'Trigger' Tim Rand
Gun Code Marshal Tim Hammond, alias Tim Hays
Arizona Gang Busters 'Trigger' Tim Rand
Riders of Black Mountain Marshal Tim Donovan
1941 Outlaws of the Rio Grande Marshal Tim Barton
The Texas Marshal Marshal 'Trigger Tim' Rand
Arizona Bound Marshal Tim McCall, posing as 'Parson" McCall
The Gunman from Bodie Marshal McCall
Forbidden Trails Marshal Tim McCall, posing as Ace Porter
1942 Below the Border Marshal Tim McCall
Ghost Town Law Marshal Tim McCall
Down Texas Way U. S. Marshal Tim McCall
Riders of the West Marshal Tim McCall
West of the Law Marshal Tim McCall
1952The Tim McCoy Show (TV)Himself
1956 Around the World in 80 Days Colonel, U.S. Cavalryas Col. Tim McCoy
1957 Run of the Arrow Gen. Allenas Colonel Tim McCoy
1965 Requiem for a Gunfighter Judge Irving Short(final film role)

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War Paint is a 1926 American silent Western film directed by W. S. Van Dyke. The film stars Tim McCoy. Louis B. Mayer observed the profits made by other studios with western franchises such as Tom Mix, Buck Jones or Hoot Gibson. He selected a genuine army officer who had lived with Indian tribes to come to Hollywood as an advisor on 1922's The Covered Wagon: Colonel Timothy John Fitzgerald McCoy. His debut as Tim McCoy in War Paint was announced under the banner "He's the real McCoy!" In order to maximize the economics, the film was shot simultaneously on location with another film, Winners of the Wilderness. The film is considered lost. A trailer however is preserved at the Library of Congress.


  1. 1 2 3 "Tim McCoy papers 1917-1987". rmoa.unm.edu. Archived from the original on June 29, 2021. Retrieved June 22, 2021.
  2. McCoy, T. (1988). Tim McCoy Remembers the West. Bison Books. ISBN   0-8032-8155-2.
  3. Francis X. Bushman: A Biography and Filmography, by Richard J. Maturi, Mary Buckingham Maturi McFarland, 1998
  4. McCoy, T. (1988). Tim McCoy Remembers the West, p. 260
  5. Matthews, Chris (2011). Jack Kennedy, pp. 44, 45
  6. Hersh, Seymour (1997), The Dark Side of Camelot, p. 83
  7. "Movie star Tim McCoy dies of heart ailment". New Castle News . New Castle, Pennsylvania. UPI. January 31, 1978. Archived from the original on February 17, 2019. Retrieved February 16, 2019.


ISBN   0-385-12798-7
ISBN   978-0-385-12798-1


ISBN   978-0-8032-8155-4


ISBN   978-0-9796970-0-5


ISBN   978-0-9796970-1-2