Jay Silverheels

Active - 1940 - 1973  |   Born - May 26, 1912   |   Died - Mar 5, 1980   |   Genres - Western, Action, Adventure

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A mixed-blood Mohawk Indian, Jay Silverheels was the son of a Canadian tribal chief. Silverheels excelled in sports during his youth and it was this prowess that brought him to Hollywood in 1938 as a stunt man. Though most of Silverheels' earliest film appearances went uncredited, it was difficult to ignore him in such roles as the Osceola boy in Key Largo (1948) and Geronimo in Broken Arrow (1950). In 1949, Silverheels was cast as Tonto on the pilot episode of TV's The Lone Ranger. Until the series shut down production in 1956, Silverheels essayed the role of the masked man's "faithful Indian companion," while Clayton Moore (and, briefly, John Hart) was seen as the Ranger. Silverheels also co-starred in two spin-off Lone Ranger theatrical films and reprised the Tonto role in a memorable Jeno's Pizza Rolls advertisement of the 1960s ("Have-um pizza roll, kemo sabe?"). Silverheels' other film credits include a cameo in the all-star fiasco The Phynx (1970) and a pivotal role in 1973's The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing. In the 1970s, Silverheels established himself as a prize-winning horse breeder and harness racing driver. During the period, he was asked if any of his new horses were faster than Tonto's Scout, whereupon Silverheels replied, "Heck, I can beat Scout." One of Jay Silverheels' last public appearance was on a comedy sketch on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show, wherein Silverheels summed up his relationship with the Lone Ranger as "30 lousy years."

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