A look back at this day in film history
November 24
Tom Mix October 12, 1940
Tom Mix dies

John Wayne may have been the greatest Western star of them all, however Tom Mix – who died on this day in 1940 – was the man who paved the way for that success. Mix was the pioneering cowboy movie hero and one of the silver screen’s first big stars, a prolific actor who appeared in an astonishing 336 films between 1910 and 1935. When Mix rose to prominence as a silent movie star, and he qualified as a great screen cowboy not as a well-versed stage actor but as a real-life man of action: Mix had grown up in Pennsylvania riding horses and working on a farm, had enlisted (though never fought) in the U.S. Army during the Spanish-American War, and then became a highly skilled rancher, winning 1909 national Riding and Rodeo Championship (which tested shooting skills and horsemanship). In 1910, he appeared in his first Western for the Selig Polyscope Company, and quickly became a star. During the 1910s and 1920s, Mix seemed to have a charmed existence: he became a beloved matinee idol, earned a reported $7,500 a week (an unthinkably large amount) while under contract at Fox, and married his on-screen regular love interest, Victoria Forde. (With Forde, his third wife, he had a daughter, Thomasina, born in 1922.) Bigger than fellow Western actors William S. Hart and Hoot Gibson, Mix was so famous that even his trusty steed, Tony the Horse, became a star. Mix was multi-talented – he was a skilled comedian, did his own stunts, and directed and wrote many of his films – however he could not survive the advent of sound. In the 1930s, he appeared in only a handful of films, instead putting his energies into making circus appearances, eventually founding the Tom Mix Circus. Though he had disappeared from screens already when he died in an auto accident in 1940, his star still shone brightly for years to come as a character on radio and in comic books. Eagle-eyed music fans will notice that Mix is one of the faces on the crowded cover of the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album.

More Flashbacks
Emir Kusturica November 24, 1954
Emir Kusturica born

Emir Kusturica, one of the most acclaimed figures in world cinema, was born on this day in 1954 in Sarajevo, the former Yugoslavian city which is now the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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November 24, 1948
The Bicycle Thief released

When Vittorio De Sica’s The Bicycle Thief opened in New York, many heralded it as the finest realization of the Italian Neo-Realist style.

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November 24, 1947
Making a Black List

On 24 November, 1947 –– just days before Thanksgiving –– the House of Representatives voted 346 to 17 to approve citations against the famed Hollywood Ten for contempt of Congress. A month before, the House Un–American Activities Committee (HUAC) had turned its attention to Hollywood, calling up 43 people whom they suspected of communist sympathies, eventually whittling that list down to 11. Of these, Bertolt Brecht agreed to answer questions and immediately left the country. The remaining ten – nine screenwriters and one director – stood pat in their belief that the Fifth Amendment provided a Constitutional right for them not to testify against themselves. The House of Representatives’ vote on 24 November, however, disagreed. The next day, Hollywood joined in, suspending pay for the Hollywood Ten and issuing a joint statement showing their solidarity to fight the red menace. The top studios publicly proclaimed that they would fire anyone who was or had been a communist, and would not hire anyone with communist sympathies (proved or otherwise). Within weeks, scores of studio employees were on the street, pounding the pavement for another job. And the Hollywood Blacklist had officially begun and was in full force.

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