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Jay Silverheels

(Harold Jay Smith)
actor
Born: May 26, 1919
Birthplace: Six Nations Indian Reserve, Brantford, Ontario, Canada

Although Jay Silverheels appeared in dozens of movies he is best known for his role as Tonto in the Lone Ranger television series and films. The son of a Mohawk chief, Silverheels was a professional lacrosse player before starting work in Hollywood in 1938 as a stuntman. When he took the role of the Lone Ranger’s loyal sidekick in 1949 he became the first Indian actor to play an Indian on television. He also became typecast, though his talent added some depth to stereotypical parts in “B” movies. Silverheels was a spokesperson for Indian actors and in 1963 founded the Indian Actors Workshop.

Died: March 5, 1980

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