Thomas Hezikiah Mix was born in January 1880 in Mix Run, Pennsylvania, His father was a stable master for a wealthy lumber merchant and taught his son to ride and love horses. Mix enlisted during the Spanish-American War and later marched in Teddy Roosevelt’s 1905 inaugural parade led by Seth Bullock (of Deadwood fame) with a group of 50 horsemen. The Miller Brothers 101 Ranch, one of the largest ranching businesses in the United States, covering 101,000 acres hence its name had its own touring Wild West show. Mix appeared with the show in 1909-1910.
William Selig worked as a magician and minstrel show operator on the west coast of California. Later on in Chicago, Illinois he attempted to enter the film business using his own photographic equipment, free from patent restrictions imposed through companies controlled by Thomas Edison. In 1896 he shot his first film, Tramp and the Dog. In 1909, Selig started a independent film company called Selig Polyscope. The company’s early existence was fraught with legal turmoil over disputes with lawyers representing Thomas Edison’s interests. Effectively a cartel, Motion Picture Patents Company dominated the industry. Independent film studios started looking elsewhere to avoid the Film Trust and have moved all the way across the country to California (where the nice weather allows a longer filming season) and opened studios is small southern California towns like Edendale and Hollywood.
In 1909 Selig and several other studio heads settled with Edison by creating an alliance with the inventor. Selig Polyscope moved to Edendale. They were the first to film a version of The Wizard of Oz. In 1909, Tom Mix started his film career with Selig Polyscope in a short film titled The Cowboy Millionaire. In 1910 he appeared as himself in a short documentary film titled Ranch Life in the Great Southwest in which he displayed his skills as a cattle wrangler. The film was a success and Mix became an early motion picture star. Mix has gone on to perform in dozens of films for Selig, many of which were filmed in Las Vegas, New Mexico.
On January 13, 1915 HEART’S DESIRE a one-reeler was released by Selig with Tom Mix. The plot involves the son of a wealthy society matron who falls for his mother’s secretary. His mother, disdainful that her son should be carrying on with someone of a lesser social position, fires the young lady and determines to keep her son away from the girl he loves.