Saturday, June 2, 2018

Just plain Tom

As Tom Hall in "Fighting Hero"

For the person newly introduced to Tom Tyler's work in westerns of the 1930's which are plentiful on the market, the majority of his film character names remains the same as his adopted one – Tom. Having come a long way from being Vincent Markowski, Tom Tyler probably never dreamed he would be a big enough Hollywood icon to go by his first name alone in the many movies he made. Since his professional name was tailored after the silent film star Tom Mix to some degree – many of Mix's screen characters were also named Tom – one other feature both Tom Tyler and Tom Mix share is this: their earliest character names were completely different from their own, with a few exceptions. Tom Mix had the character name of Tom in a number of silent film shorts in the early 1910's, such as “The Telltale Knife” (1911) and “The Scapegoat” (1912). In a way this naming practice set the standard for new silent film western stars, such as Hoot Gibson, Buck Jones, and Tom Tyler.

As Tom Gallagher
Once he was selected as the new western star for FBO, his first starring role being “Let's Go Gallagher”, Tom Tyler appeared onscreen as Tom Gallagher, a hard-fighting youth who finds himself caught in a whirlwind of adventure. Such a memorable debut caught the public's eye quickly enough, for soon Tom appeared in successive movies bearing character names such as Phil Stone (The Wyoming Wildcat), Dennis Terhune (Born to Battle 1926), Dandy Carrell (The Arizona Streak) and Jerry McGill (The Cowboy Cop). For the rest of the year 1926 and into 1927, Tom's onscreen names were always Tom but a different, simple last name, and by the time he finished his contract with FBO, sixteen of the silent films he starred in had the character name of Tom. Surprisingly enough, none of the eight movies Tom made for Syndicate directed by J. P. McGowan had character names of Tom; each one was totally different, such as Rex Carson in “Call of the Desert.”

Unlike Tom Mix, who made eleven movies in the 1930's, Tom Tyler made 47 movies during that decade where he had the starring role, already long established as an icon himself. For it did not matter if any one of his given movies saw him as Tom or some other name in the story. Tom Tyler was a highly recognizable star on the silver screen, if not for his distinctive looks and voice, for his low-key persona which made him a true favorite of many an American family.

As Tom Corrigan in "The Desert Pirate"


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