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Jay Silverheels ACTOR


Jay Silverheels was born on May 26th, 1912 in Six Nations Reservation in Brantford, Ontario, Canada with the birth name Harold J. Smith to a Mohawk chief.  As a young boy he was very athletci and was a star lacross player and boxer before becoming involved as a stunt man in the film industry.
He began his career in films in 1938 working as an extra and doing occasional stunt work.  When he began working on low budget films, features and some serials with bit parts he was billed under the name Harold Mith of Karry Smith.  His stage name was later adopted from the nickname he received as a lacrosse player.

It wasn't until the late 1940's, that he began to earn some notice as an actor when he took a role in Humphrey Bogart's film, "Key Largo" (1948).  This role was followed by others such as, "The Cowboy and the Indians" (1949) and then a role on television in, "The Lone Ranger" (1949) starring Clayton Moore portraying the character Tonto.  It  was this role that helped increase his fame as an actor but then ultimately hurt him too as he went on to portray the role in two more films, "The Lone Ranger" (1956) and  "The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold" (1958).  He was now being typecast as 'Tonto' and it was difficult to get cast in films portraying other types of characters.

He did manage to continue to get work in the film inxdustry into the late 60's and early 70's, but the roles were never as successful as his 'Tonto' character.  Jay worked on, "True Grit" (1969) starring John Wayne and Glen Campbell and also worked with Glenn Hope on the film, "Santee" (1973).  He even had to take on a side job as a sales man to supplement his income.  In addition to his acting, he returned to his hobby of writing poetry and even made an appearance on television reciting it.

The remainder of his career was mostly doing random spoofs on television making fun of his character, 'Tonto'.  He even appeared on the televsion series, "The Brady Bunch" portraying an Indian chief. 

Jay Silverheels married only one time in 1945 to Mary Diroma, and was the father of two sons and one daughter.  He passed away on March 5th, 1980 in Woodland Hills, California from a stroke at the age of sixty seven.  Jay was cremated at the Chapel of the Pines Crematory and his ashes were sent back to the Six Nations Indian Reserve.

In 1993, he was inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.     


1974   Dusty's Trail 
1974   A Different Drum
1973   Cannon 
1973   Santee 
1973   The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing 
1973   One Little Indian  
1972   Love, American Style 
1972   In Pursuit of Treasure 
1971   Cade's County
1971   The Brady Bunch
1971   Cat Ballou
1971   The Psychiatrist 
1970   The Phynx 
1969   True Grit
1969   Smith! 
1968   The Virginian
1967   Gentle Ben 
1966-1967  Pistols 'n Petticoats
1966   The Rounders
1964-1965  Daniel Boone 
1965   Indian Paint 
1965   Branded
1962   Laramie 
1961   Rawhide
1961   Frontier Circus  
1961   Gunslinger 
1961   Wagon Train 
1960   Rescue 8
1959   Wanted: Dead or Alive 
1959   Alias Jesse James 
1958   The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold 
1958   Return to Warbow  
1949-1957  The Lone Ranger 
1956   Walk the Proud Land
1956   The Lone Ranger 
1955   The Vanishing American 
1955   The Lone Ranger Rides Again
1954   Masterson of Kansas
1954   Four Guns to the Border 
1954   The Black Dakotas 
1954   Drums Across the River 
1954   Saskatchewan 
1953   War Arrow  
1953   The Nebraskan 
1953   Jack McCall Desperado 
1953   Last of the Comanches 
1952   The Pathfinder 
1952   Yankee Buccaneer  
1952   The Story of Will Rogers 
1952   Brave Warrior 
1952   The Half-Breed 
1952   The Battle at Apache Pass 
1952   The Legend of the Lone Ranger 
1951   The Wild Blue Yonder 
1951   Red Mountain 
1951   Cyclone Fury 
1950   Broken Arrow 
1949   The Cowboy and the Indians 
1949   Sand 
1949   Trail of the Yukon 
1949   Lust for Gold 
1949   Laramie 
1949   Song of India 
1949   Family Honeymoon 
1948   Yellow Sky 
1948   The Feathered Serpent 
1948   Singin' Spurs 
1948   Key Largo 
1948   Fury at Furnace Creek 
1947   Captain from Castile 
1947   The Prairie 
1947   The Last Round-up 
1947   Unconquered
1947   Northwest Outpost 
1947   Gas House Kids Go West
1946   Singin' in the Corn 
1946   Canyon Passage 
1946   Romance of the West
1945   Song of the Sarong
1944   Lost in a Harem
1944   Haunted Harbor
1944   The Tiger Woman
1944   Passage to Marseille 
1944   Raiders of the Border
1944   I Am an American  
1943   The Phantom
1943   Northern Pursuit 
1943   The Girl from Monterrey
1943   Daredevils of the West 
1943   Good Morning, Judge 
1942   Perils of Nyoka 
1942   Valley of the Sun 
1941   This Woman Is Mine 
1941   Jungle Girl 
1941   Western Union 
1941   Hudson's Bay 
1940   Too Many Girls 
1940   The Sea Hawk 
1937   Make a Wish  

Matinee Classics - The Cowboy and the Indians starring Gene Autry, Sheila Ryan, Champion, Frank Richards, Hank Patterson, Jay Silverheels and Clayton Moore
Matinee Classics - The Lone Ranger starring Clayton Moore, Jay Silverheels and John Hart
Matinee Classics - The Lone Ranger starring Clayton Moore, Jay Silverheels, Lyle Bettger, Bonita Granville and Perry Lopez
Matinee Classics - The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold starring Clayton Moore, Jay Silverheels and Bonita Granville
Matinee Classics - The Lone Ranger starring Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels
Matinee Classics - The Lone Ranger starring Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels
Matinee Classics - Key Largo starring Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson, Lauren Bacall, Lionel Barrymore, Claire Trevor, Thomas Gomez, Harry Lewis, John Rodney, Marc Lawrence, Dan Seymour, Monte Blue, William Haade, Jay Silverheels and Rodd Redwing
Matinee Classics - One Little Indian starring James Garner, Vera Miles, Pat Hingle, Morgan Woodward, John Doucette, Clay O'Brien, Robert Pine, Bruce Glover, Ken Swofford, Jay Silverheels, Andrew Prine, Jodie Foster, Walter Brooke, Rudy Diaz and John C. Flinn III

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