Jay Silverheels

Jay Silverheels

  • Born on
    • May 26th, 1912
  • Died on
    • March 5th, 1980
Jay Silverheels was born on a reservation in Canada to a Mohawk chief. He was a star lacrosse player and a boxer before he entered films as a stuntman in 1938. He worked in a number of films though the 1940s before he gained some notice as the Osceola brother in Humphrey Bogart's film Key Largo (1948). Most of his roles consisted of bit parts as "Indian." In 1949, he would work in a movie called The Cowboy and the Indians (1949) with another "B movie" actor named Clayton Moore. It was later that same year that Jay would be hired to play the faithful Indian companion, Tonto, in the television series "The Lone Ranger" (1949). This role, while still playing the "Indian," would bring Jay the fame that his motion picture career never did. As Tonto, on his horse Scout, Jay could show up where the Ranger could not and some of the time he would be shot at or beat up for his trouble. Jay would play Tonto in all the episodes except for those that he missed when he had his heart attack. In those episodes, he was replaced by the Ranger's nephew, Dan. However, Clayton Moore would miss the third season when he was replaced by John Hart. Jay would reprise the role of Tonto in two big-screen color movies with Moore, The Lone Ranger (1956) and The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold (1958). After the series ended in 1957, Jay could not escape the typecasting of Tonto. He would continue to appear in an occasional film and television show, but he would become a spokesman to improve the portrayal of Indians on TV.

Starring Jay Silverheels on Plex


Acting (23 Credits)

1973Santee as John Crow
1973One Little Indian as Jimmy Wolf
1973The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing as The Chief
1959Alias Jesse James as Tonto (uncredited)
1958The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold as Tonto
1956The Lone Ranger as Tonto
1956Walk the Proud Land as Geronimo
1954Drums Across the River as Taos
1954Saskatchewan as Cajou
1953War Arrow as Satanta
1953Last of the Comanches as Indian (uncredited)
1952The Battle at Apache Pass as Geronimo
1950Broken Arrow as Geronimo
1949Lust for Gold as Walter
1949The Lone Ranger as Tonto
1948Key Largo as Tom Osceola (uncredited)
1948Yellow Sky as Indian (uncredited)
1948The Treasure of the Sierra Madre as Indian Guide at Pier (uncredited)
1944Lost in a Harem as Guard at Execution (uncredited)
1941Western Union as Indian
1940Kit Carson as Indian
1940Too Many Girls as Indian
1940The Sea Hawk as Native Lookout


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