Tom Mix — Back Home — and Happy (1929) 🇺🇸

Tom Mix — Back Home — and Happy (1929) |

March 03, 2024

It was that dusky-blue hour before dawn, when the seemingly endless yellow cars at the Sells-Floto Circus rumbled into the railway yards at Stamford, Connecticut, and came to a halt, All was quiet in the town, but hardly had the first elephant bellowed his “Ugh-eee!” of command to his twelve teammates to link trunks and tails and plod down the runway to the ground, when a scrambling, hustling army of little boys appeared out of nowhere asking, “Where’s Tom Mix’s car?”

by Helen Klumph

For weeks the countryside had been placarded with posters proclaiming that the one and only Tom Mix, with his famous horse Tony, would accompany the mastodonic pachyderm marvels, the Hanneford family, the breath-taking aerialists, the almost-human seals, and the man who at each and every performance was shot from a cannon. The silent theater that had done little business since the talkies came in down the street, revived one of his old films and cashed in on the impatient interest in Tom Mix aroused by the circus posters.

Excitement was at fever heat when the circus trains began to disgorge, the army of workers who skillfully slid the flamboyant scarlet-and-gold-encrusted wagons from the flat cars to the ground. Everywhere underfoot, jostling, tripping, and miraculously dodging, was that swarm of little boys who piped constantly, “Where’s Tom Mix’s car?” “Can I carry his bags?” “Is he awake yet?” It would have been strange if he weren’t, in all that tumult and shouting.

Finally one of the circus men let out the secret that Tom Mix’s private car was the dark-colored one among the stream of yellows, and the boys swarmed in that direction. They climbed upon the platform, they piled up boxes to stand on, bringing their faces to window level so that if by chance Tom Mix should raise the shade, there they would be looking at him up close.

Fifty of them were lured away by the promise of a job helping to unload at the circus grounds. But the crowd that stayed filled the space between the two trains. When Tom came out on the platform for a breath of air before breakfast, a shout went up, and there was a chill of dread in some hearts that he might be annoyed and distant with them. They had met stars before, who wore their geniality only during a personal appearance at a theater.

“Hi there, boys!” he called out breezily. “Why didn’t you let me know you were coming over, so I’d be up?” Thunderstruck by this friendliness, one youngster almost toppled off the leaning tower of boxes he had erected.

“Whoa there,” Tom cautioned, grinning broadly, “you can’t ride Tony if you can’t keep your seat better than that.”

When he went back into his car with a wave and “See you later,” he could have enlisted an army of boys to follow him wherever he willed. “Oh, boy!” one of them ejaculated, thumping his little brother on the back. And then again, as though further words failed him in this great moment, “Oh, boy!”

Over at the circus grounds the reserved seats were sold out and the general admission section was jammed an hour before the afternoon performance. Patiently Tony had stood while admiring throngs gaped at him. And then at last the great moment came. The calliope puffed, the band rose to a crescendo and into the tent came the parade, with Tom Mix on Tony in the lead. The clatter of applause and shouts vied with the band, the animals behind snorted impatiently, and the

Oriental beauties ambled along unnoticed as Tom stopped at every section to wave and call “Hello!”

It was a youthful, grinning Tom Mix who greeted the crowd; a man who had shed twenty years since leaving the cares of Hollywood and coming back to life in the open. When he wasn’t in the ring putting his trained horses through their paces, or dashing here and there at breakneck speed with his yelping, stunting cowboys, he was standing over by the band stand, looking on as eagerly as though he had never seen it all before.

Just before the evening performance I went back to his dressing-room tent to see him. Tom is one of those people you always want to see again. In those hurried minutes before he made his entrance, he didn’t have to assure me that he was enjoying life these days.

Contentment fairly radiated from him.

“I feel as though I’d come back home. I guess I belong here, with the horses and the circus folks.”

People called to him from near-by tents; some one strolled into his tent and helped himself to cigarettes, without a “Please” or “Thank you.”

“I’ve been a little lonely the last few days,” he went on. “Had Thomasina with me for a while, but her mother took her back to Hollywood. Tommy inherited my love for the circus, all right, but my wife didn’t like the life much. Why, Tommy knew every one in the show the day she joined us. Every one was teaching her their tricks. I went into the tent one day between shows to see if she was swimming with the seals, or swinging with the acrobats, and there she was on her knees on a prancing horse. ‘To-morrow I’m going to stand up,’ she called to me. She’s still real, Tommy is. Living in a big house with a lot of servants, and going oft to France to school hasn’t spoiled her a bit. I’m just a cowboy and don’t pretend to be anything else, and Tommy’s just like me.

“I was with this outfit twenty years ago,” he went on. “Got twenty dollars a week and thought I was doing fine. One day they fined me five dollars for watching the performers when I should have been out helping to load a wagon, so I left. Couldn’t see how any one but a judge could fine me.”

His horse had been led up to the tent and the calliope was puffing the last of the introductory march, when he started to go. “Come on down to the train afterward,” he called out.

Tom is mighty proud of the private car the circus got for him. One big room, with a table and lots of armchairs, with Navajo rugs here and there to make it homy; a smaller room, with a wide bunk and innumerable pictures of Tommy and Mrs. Mix; a jade-green bathroom, with cupboards all around. So delighted is he with it, that one almost forgets that he has long had a mansion in Beverly Hills, a yacht, and a house at Catalina.

“I’m going to be with the circus for quite a spell,” he told me in answer to the inevitable question about his coming back to Hollywood to make talking pictures. “Maybe as long as they want me. Everything is so real here it makes Hollywood look sort of like papier-mâché.”

The train gave a warning jolt and I left. But not without a last congratulatory glance at a man who has gone back to the scene of his youth and found happiness.

Tom Mix — Back Home — and Happy (1929) |

“Everything in the circus is so real it makes Hollywood look like papier-mâché.” — Tom Mix.

Tom Mix — Back Home — and Happy | Come On, Let's Sing | 1929 |

Collection: Picture Play Magazine, November 1929

Tom Mix (1932) |

My Pal, the King and The Fourth Horseman are Tom Mix’s latest. Tom’s new wife is a Hollywood social favorite. Tom says he doesn’t know how he could ever have been happy without her.

So highly does Mix value the appreciation of his youthful admirers and fans that he will not smoke nor drink on the screen for fear of the demoralizing effect on them. A very good idea, too, since kids are so very imitative.

Tom is an unusually satisfactory person to work for. He has a Negro valet who has been with him for twenty-three years.

Photo by: Roman Freulich (1898–1974)

Collection: Modern Screen Magazine, November 1932