Mixville shopping center’s movie ranch

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June 1, 2013 · Posted in Commentary 

Tom Mix of Mixville

By Phyl Van Ammers


Whole Foods will soon occupy a building in the strip mall on Glendale Boulevard.   This is an important historic location without even an obscure plaque to show what was once there.


Along Glendale Boulevard, but closer to downtown and near the maw of the 2 Freeway, is the site of the Selig Polyscope movie studio.   Around 1910, Selig recruited a cowboy who had ridden with Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders when he was a teenager, served in the Boxer Rebellion, broke horses for the English in the Boer War, served as sheriff, U.S. Marshall, Texas Ranger, and who wanted only to live on the plains and own a ranch but felt he needed to raise the money himself and organized ranch shows.  He and his horse Old Blue performed terrifying tricks in the ranch shows that later became part of the Tom Mix films.


Tom became Selig’s best actor, changing how actors performed cowboy stories through example.   He hated the “wild flaying arms” and “ridiculous facial distortions” of earlier western film actors.   Eventually, he bought 12 acres of land in the sparsely populated area that was then outside the City’s limits, called Edendale.


The following description is from The Fabulous Tom Mix (1957) by Olive Stokes Mix, Prentice-Hall (1957).   The book is available free on-line.


“Many of the interior scenes were made at Mixville. Almost everything pertaining to the Old West could be found tucked away somewhere in this unique little settlement; indeed, the vast lot was a miniature West in itself. There was a complete frontier town, with a dusty street, hitching rails, a saloon, jail, bank, doctor’s office, surveyor’s office, and the simple frame houses typical of the early Western era. Only the signs on the buildings were changed from picture to picture, and some rearrangement of the furnishings.


“There was an Indian village with several lodges nestled in a flat piece of land at the rear of the lot. From the range of plaster-of-Paris mountains surrounding the village Tom led many a convincing attack on a tribe of warriors, the whole thing looking ferociously real when the picture reached the screen.


“There was a plot of simulated desert too, through which

Tom and Tony wandered on many an occasion on their search for the “bad man”; for although Tom preferred actual locations, the Fox executives always held the budget over his head.


“Among other things at Mixville there were a ranch house, sans any ceiling of course, a corral that would hold a hundred horses, and a great barnlike structure to hold props, such as saddles, uniforms, guns, and various items of furniture that conformed to the Old West tradition.”


According to his former wife Olive Mix, Tom was like the character he portrayed.   He believed in clean living, and he believed in helping others and he took care of animals.    When a fire broke out Mixville, it was Tom who ran into the stables and brought out the terrified horses.   He got burned and had to be hospitalized afterwards.



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