Tim McCoy: 1891 – 1978
McCoy was born in Saginaw, Michigan, but migrated to the west and settled on a ranch in Wyoming. He served in World War I, and over time, became an expert on the old west and Indian lore. The retired US Army (Lt) Colonel came to Hollywood to provide technical details and help on THE COVERED WAGON film which was released by Paramount in 1923. During that film, McCoy was the interface between the production crew and the Native American participants, as he was able to converse with the Indians via sign language.
Young and good looking, McCoy was hired by MGM and became their silent film cowboy and outdoor star in about twenty films. When sound arrived, Colonel Tim starred for Universal Pictures in a pair of serials, THE INDIANS ARE COMING(1930) and HEROES OF THE FLAMES (1931).
Tim McCoy, reached the height of his western starring career in the 1930s at Columbia Pictures, and then spiraled downward as he found lesser quality work at other production outfits. Fans generally remember McCoy from his 1930s Columbia work, or in later flicks where he portrayed a steely-eyed, strong man of the west with names like Lightnin' Bill Carson, Trigger Tim Rand, or U.S. Marshal Tim McCall.
In 1931, over his four plus years at Columbia, McCoy made nearly three dozen pictures. Most of these would be good, solid, memorable oaters. But for release season 1933-1934, Columbia opted to place him in some crime and adventure dramas, and those eight non-western films were not successful. McCoy was "back in the saddle" for his next (and last) batch of films for Columbia which were released during 1934-1935. It should be noted that during Tim's first couple years at Columbia, the studio also had Buck Jones doing series westerns --- and both the McCoy and Jones pictures were extremely popular and financially successful. But all good things come to an end, and in 1934, Buck Jones moved to Universal Pictures. A year later, McCoy was also gone.
A year or so later, he received what was to become his final job offer as a western film lead and hero --- to be second billed to Buck Jones in a new trio western series at Monogram called the Rough Riders. Eight films were released during 1941-1942, and the overall quality was quite good. But reserve officer McCoy would be called back to WW2 military duty and Buck Jones would be killed in the Cocoanut Grove nightclub fire in Boston during November, 1942.
With the demise of the Rough Riders, Tim McCoy's time as a screen hero was over. In later years, he would do a few 'guest' appearance roles, such as playing the cavalry troop leader in the AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS (1956) epic. He also hosted a TV series in the early 1950s where he commented about the Indians, sign language, the Old West, etc.
Written by prolific pulp writer William Colt MacDonald, this Tim McCoy Columbia Studios Western may have been the forerunner of McDonald's later so popular The Three Mesqueteers. John Wayne, whose character is named, appropriately, Duke, and Wallace MacDonald (no relation to William Colt) play McCoy's loyal ranch hands, and although they remain in the background for part of the action, the germ of the triad hero is there. Tim McCoy plays a rancher (Tim Clark) losing his property to a crooked money-lender turned cattle rustler (Wheeler Oakman). The dastardly villain is in league with a sheriff's deputy (Walter Brennan) and together they rob the Wells Fargo. There is a final shootout and the dying deputy confesses to both the Wells Fargo heist and to the fact that Tim's ranch was illegally obtained.
John Wayne, who didn't get along with Tim McCoy and had several rows with studio czar Harry Cohn, swore that he would never again work for Columbia, a promise he kept.
Tim Madigan (Tim McCoy), gentleman gambler who never carries a gun, exposes a card sharp cheating Jose Hernandez (Red Lease.) Later, the gambler is shot after being knocked unconscious by Tim. Through circumstances, Jose thinks he did the killing, while Marshal Tom Barstow (Earle Hodgins) thinks Tim is the guilty party.
Tim Ross (Tim McCoy), formerly an agent for the Justice Department, is traveling with the Doc Shaw (Earle Hodgins) medicine show as a sharpshooter. He runs into an old friend, Tex Weaver (Ralph Byrd), who is working undercover to roundup a bank-robbing band. Later, while Tex is holding a coin for Tim to shoot out of his hand at a show exhibition, another shot is fired from the outer circle of spectators at the same time as Tim fires. Tex falls dead. Everybody, but Tim and saloon girl Goldie Harris (Lois January), Tex's girlfriend, is convinced that Tim misfired and hit his friend. Goldie has picked up the coin Tex was holding and knows Tim did not miss his intended target.
A miner who was swindled out of his mine by a banker turns to robbing stagecoaches. Several years after he is tracked down and killed, his son comes to town to tangle with the banker.
When Blackton outbids Bill Carson. Bill suspects he will have to rustle cattle to fulfill the contract. So Bill arrives posing as an Mexican. When he rustles the cattle from the rustlers, it gets him into the gang. Hoping to bring them all to justice, he is in trouble when his true identity is revealed.
A government agent falsely accused of murdering a professor takes the identity of "The Puma", a Mexican vigilante leader, to hide his real identity and find the actual killers. Tim McCoy is cast as Lightning Bill Carson, and also a Mexican bandit.
A Professor has an invention that will bring down planes causing them to crash and Dawson is forcing him to use it on those carrying money. When Tim McCoy arrives to investigate, but he is mistaken for a noted outlaw. So he assumes that identity to force Dawson to make him a partner. But just as a plane bringing Tim help is arriving, his true identity is revealed and while he is a prisoner, Dawson forces the Professor to start his machine.
Evans (Karl Hackett) and Walton (Wheeler Oakman) have started a range war causing rancher Morgan (John Elliott) to send for the reputed killer Tim Corwin (Tim McCoy).
Walton then frames Tim for the murder of Morgan. When Tim escapes the Sheriff (Ed Cassidy), Evans and Walton set Tim up to be murdered. But Morgan's son Buddy (Tommy Bupp) overhears their plans and rides to warn Tim.
When Stone's men rob the stage, Deputy Bates (Edmund Cobb) catches Breed Hawkins (John Merton) only to be killed by him. Stone (Karl Hackett) makes a drunken Pecos Kid (Rex Lease) think he did it. Bill Carson (Tim McCoy) gets a confession that Breed was the killer but it comes too late as the Sheriff and his posse had already hung the Kid.
Lightning Carson's nephew has been falsely accused of murder. To get in with the gang, Lightning poses as a Mexican. He also appears as himself making his costume changes at his sister's ranch. Just as he about to bring in the gang, a henchman finds evidence of his masquerade and arrives to expose the hoax.
Chasing jewel thieves, Captain Carson (Tim McCoy) and Magpie head for the border where Carson, posing as a Chinaman, opens a store that buys jewelry. To flush the thieves into the open, Carson wins all their money at poker. They agree to sell him the jewels but plan to kill him and keep both the jewels and the money.
10. Phantom Ranger (1938) - Tim McCoy:
A Treasury Department engraver is being held captive by a counterfeiting gang that wants him to make counterfeit plates for them. A lawman (Tim McCoy) is sent to rescue him.
11. Straight Shooter (1939) -Tim McCoy:
Before he was killed, Martin hid a half million dollars worth of government bonds on his ranch. Brainard (Ted Adams), who killed him, Inspector Carson (Tim McCoy) posing as Sam Brown, and Martin's niece Margaret (Julie Sheldon) all want the ranch, and it's being sold at auction.
12. Arizona Bound (1941) - Buck Jones and Tim McCoy (Rough Riders) - Retired marshal Buck Roberts (Buck Jones) has left law enforcement and is enjoying life on his northern Arizona ranch when he receives a telegram from Marshal Bat Madison (Jay Wilsey) requesting his aid in stopping a rash of stagecoach robberies near villain invested Mesa City, and off he goes as a fast-paced Rough Riders (Jones, Tim McCoy, Raymond Hatton) adventure begins.