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Tim McCoy was born Timothy John Fitzgerald McCoy in Saginaw, Michigan in 1891. For someone so associated with cowboys one might think he grew up in the West, or around horses, but his father was police chief in Saginaw and he grew up there. But while at college, he saw a Wild West show, and he was so taken by it that he quit school and went to work on a Wyoming ranch. He not only became expert in roping, riding, and shooting, but he also learned much about the local Indians, including their language. He started competing in rodeos, but then WWI started and he enlisted in the Army Air Corps. He never saw combat, but he rose to the rank of Colonel. After the war, still in the Army, he returned to Wyoming, where he was the Adjutant General of Wyoming (perhaps the youngest general in the history of the Army!). He quit the Army in 1921, and bought a ranch in Wyoming, and was also the territorial Indian agent. He was 30, and still had never had anything to do with movies! But in 1922, Jesse Lasky was making The Covered Wagon and he asked McCoy to find hundreds of Indian extras to go to Hollywood and give the movie extra authenticity, and to also be technical advisor on the movie. When the Paramount people in Hollywood saw his authentic cowboy skills, they signed him to appear in The Thundering Herd after which MGM signed him to star in a series of westerns, where they billed him as Col. Tim McCoy. In 1930 after 17 movies for MGM he switched to Universal for two movies, and then went to Columbia, where he starred in some 30 westerns. In 1935, he left Columbia and started touring with the Ringling Brothers Circus and his success there led him to start his own Wild West show, but that was a disastrous move, for it failed badly, and McCoy lost a fortune. But he had continued making westerns for small studios, and in 1941 he started a series of westerns with Buck Jones for Monogram, where they were billed as the Rough Riders. They rapidly made eight movies, but Jones death in the infamous Coconut Grove nightclub fire ended the series, and McCoy retired from movies, and ran for Senator from Wyoming. The day after he lost in the primary, he went back on active duty in the Army, and served in WWII. Apparently losing in the primary soured him on Wyoming, because after the war he never returned there! He passed away in 1978 at the age of 86. Tim McCoy was one of the most authentic of cowboy stars, and he continued starring in westerns well into his forties, and he watched them taken over by the "pretty" singing cowboys of the 1930s and 1940s!
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