Silent Stars Fading Away
March 27, 2002
Most people know of the really famous stars that have come from Oklahoma, such as Will Rogers and Garth Brooks, but not many know that Oklahoma has for years produced stars and celebrities of every caliber and genre. Some of the world’s best painters, sculptors, actors, dancers, musicians and authors have come from Oklahoma. I thought that this Almanac would help to reacquaint Oklahomans with a forgotten talented native son.
Most of the information for this piece came from the Cotton Collection held in the OSU Special Collections & University Archives Department. There is a nice article on several Oklahoma actors including Jack Hoxie in the Spring 1996 Chronicles of Oklahoma.
Silent stars fading away this week on the Oklahoma Audio Almanac.
Hello, I'm Steven Knoche Kite.
The first authentic western motion picture appeared in 1903, titled The Great Train Robbery, the film made a splash among the movie going crowds and Westerns have enjoyed varying degrees of success ever since. It wasn't too long after the appearance of The Great Train Robbery that actors with ties to Oklahoma began appearing in Westerns, and one can say, almost dominating for a period the Silent-Western movie scene. Tom Mix, Art Accord, Buck Jones and Hoot Gibson as well as the Hoxie brothers, Jack and Al, all got their start in films here in Oklahoma.
The Hoxie brothers were an interesting pair as they both enjoyed success in the western film market. Another almanac will be devoted to brother Al's career. Of the two, Jack became the most well known of the brothers, and at one time was one of the most popular of the Silent-Western film stars. Film historians differ on the birth date and place of Jack Hoxie. Most sources place the actor being born in 1890 along Kingfisher Creek, although others using the Hoxie family Bible as evidence claim 1888 along the Kansas border in Indian Territory as the time and place. Either way, it is certain that tragedy struck the family and the brothers Hoxie were orphaned when Jack was nine years old. From that time on Jack Hoxie worked as a wrangler on various ranches and competed in numerous rodeos. It was while working as a cowhand that Jack's flair for cowboy work as well as his photogenic qualities were noticed by Hollywood producers.
Jack's first movie, or at least the first one in which he received billing, debuted in 1916. Unlike other actors, fame and fortune did little to change Hoxie's lifestyle. He was never seen to drink, smoke or use offensive language and was indeed one of the very rare early Western stars who was in real life just like the characters he portrayed in the movies. 1923 to 1927 saw Hoxie at the peak of his career making over thirty-five movies in that short period. Like so many other actors of the time, it was the arrival of the "Talkies" that signaled the end of the road for Hoxie's career. Claiming that he was unable to memorize the lines of dialogue necessary for the new talking format, Hoxie left the movie scene in the early 1930's. Hoxie retired to his small ranch near Keyes, Oklahoma to live out his remaining years passing away on March 27th, 1965.
Matinee idol memories this week on the Almanac.
I'm Steven Knoche Kite.
The Oklahoma Audio Almanac is a joint production of the Oklahoma State University Library and Oklahoma's Public Radio.