Denver Dixon

Active - 1924 - 1952  |   Born - Jan, 1890 in Kansas City, MO  |   Died - Nov, 1972 in Los Angeles, CA  |   Genres - Western, Action

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Perhaps the strangest Western hero of them all -- certainly the most difficult to pin down -- Denver Dixon was born Victor Adamson in Kansas City, MO, but raised in New Zealand. A trick rider and roper, he returned to the U.S. with what amounted to a home movie in the late 1910s and actually managed to find a distributor. Stardom, however, proved elusive and the would-be actor decided to continue making his own Western productions. Sometime in the early '20s, Adamson/Dixon invented the character of Art Mix which he periodically played himself but usually offered to one George Kesterson (who was credited as Art Mix, to further confuse the matter) and, on at least one occasion, to a rodeo rider named Bob Roberts. When Tom Mix not unexpectedly filed an infringement suit, Dixon hired a real person named Arthur J. Mix (whom he reportedly found in the Los Angeles phone book) to front his company. Tom Mix thus had no case and production of the Art Mix films continued. Kesterson and Dixon had a falling out sometime in the late '20s, but despite Dixon's attempts to prohibit the use of the name, Kesterson continued to appear as Art Mix for the remainder of his career. Confusingly, at one point there were not one but two Art Mixes appearing in low-budget oaters. Distributed on states rights, the Dixon Art Mix Westerns continued into the sound era but remained near the bottom of the Hollywood filmmaking barrel. In the 1930s, Dixon attempted to turn stunt man Wally West into a star under the name Tom Wynn, while he himself co-starred as Art James. The result, Desert Mesa (1936), was on par with Dixon's usual output -- cheap, dusty-looking and filled with anachronisms -- and there were not many takers. Dixon refrained from starring himself after 1938's Mormon Conquest but remained a fixture on the fringe of the industry almost until his death from a heart attack. His son, Al Adamson, who sometimes acted under the alias Rick Adams, carried on the family tradition, acting in, directing, and producing very low-budget genre films. Al Adamson (who was born in 1929) was found murdered (and buried) outside his home in Indio, CA. in August 1995. The culprit was apparently a contractor hired to refurbish the house.

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