MARCH 5, 1980

MOHAWK HAROLD JOHN SMITH (JAY SILVERHEELS) DIED

Born May 26, 1912, on Six Nations Reserve near Hagersville, Ontario, Jay played professional lacrosse and fought in the Golden Gloves Middleweight class before working as an extra & stuntman in low-budget films.  While his fame came as Tonto on the TV series, The Lone Ranger (1949-57), from 1947 through 1973, he played Native American roles in:  Captain from Castile (1947), Key Largo (1948), Lust for Gold (1949), Broken Arrow (1950), War Arrow (1953), The Black Dakotas (1954), Drums Across the River (1954), Walk the Proud Land (1956), Alias Jesse James (1959), Indian Paint (1964), Santee (1973), The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing (1973), and 2 Lone Ranger movies.  Jay supported the Indian Actors Workshop in LA and bred race horses.  Enshrined in the Hall of Great Western Performers, Western New York Entertainment, and Canadian Lacrosse Halls of Fame, and Hollywood Walk of Fame, he also received the First Americans in the Arts-Life Achievement Award.  Jay died in Calabasas, California. 

Source:  Kliph Neseroff, “Tonto via Toronto: The Rise and Fall of Jay Silverheels,” WFMU’s ‘Beware of the Blog,’ 3/15/2009.  Retrieved 1/14/2020, https://blog.wfmu.org/freeform/2009/03/tonto-via-toronto-the-rise-and-fall-of-jay-silverheels.html   
Photo:  Personal, 7/25/2010.  Public Domain.

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