One of the earliest on-screen appearances of Tom Mix (1880-1940) was as himself in the 1910 western documentary Ranch Life in the Great Southwest. Filming on location in Oklahoma, a director for Selig Pictures had found him working as a local deputy sheriff and hired him to handle stock.
Asking for a part in the picture, Mix got a scene as a bronc rider in a rodeo sequence. At the age of 30, he’d been married three times and had taken various jobs with a series of Wild West shows. Later the same year, he was starring in a two-reeler, The Range Riders, shot in Missouri.
By 1920, when he surpassed William S. Hart in popularity, Mix had accumulated acting credits in something like 235 films, all of them silent, most of them shorts. Of these he’d directed over 100. Like William S. Hart he’d begun featuring his horse, Tony, in the credits.