Image of Jay Silverheels

Jay Silverheels

Jay Silverheels was born on a reservation in Canada to a Mohawk chief. He was a star lacrosse player and a boxer before he entered films as a stuntman in 1938. He worked in a number of films though the 1940s before he gained some notice as the Osceola brother in Humphrey Bogart's film Key Largo (1948). Most of his roles consisted of bit parts as "Indian." In 1949, he would work in a movie called The Cowboy and the Indians (1949) with another "B movie" actor named Clayton Moore. It was later that same year that Jay would be hired to play the faithful Indian companion, Tonto, in the television series "The Lone Ranger" (1949). This role, while still playing the "Indian," would bring Jay the fame that his motion picture career never did. As Tonto, on his horse Scout, Jay could show up where the Ranger could not and some of the time he would be shot at or beat up for his trouble. Jay would play Tonto in all the episodes except for those that he missed when he had his heart attack. In those episodes, he was replaced by the Ranger's nephew, Dan. However, Clayton Moore would miss the third season when he was replaced by John Hart. Jay would reprise the role of Tonto in two big-screen color movies with Moore, The Lone Ranger (1956) and The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold (1958). After the series ended in 1957, Jay could not escape the typecasting of Tonto. He would continue to appear in an occasional film and television show, but he would become a spokesman to improve the portrayal of Indians on TV.

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May 26, 1912 In Six Nations Reservation, Brantford, Ontario, Canada
Movie/TV Credits:
First Appeared:
In the movie The Sea Hawk 1940-08-10
Latest Project:
Movie The Lone Ranger: Who Was That Masked Man 2022
Known For
Poster of Lone Ranger: Lost Episodes
Poster of Wanted: Dead or Alive
Poster of Broken Arrow
Poster of Key Largo
Movie The Lone Ranger: Who Was That Masked Man Tonto 2022
Movie Lone Ranger: Lost Episodes Tonto 2001-05-29
Movie The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing The Chief 1973-06-28
Movie One Little Indian Jimmy Wolf 1973-06-20
Movie Santee John Crow 1973-09-01
Movie Cat Ballou Indian Chief 1971-09-06
Series Cannon Unknown 1971-09-14
Movie The Phynx Tonto 1970-03-06
Movie Smith! McDonald Lasheway 1969-03-21
Series The Brady Bunch Unknown 1969-09-26
Series Pistols 'n' Petticoats Unknown 1966-09-17
Series Branded Unknown 1965-01-24
Movie Indian Paint Chief Hevatanu 1965-04-08
Series Daniel Boone Sashona 1964-09-24
Movie Alias Jesse James Tonto (uncredited) 1959-03-20
Series Rawhide Unknown 1959-01-09
Movie The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold Tonto 1958-01-01
Series Wanted: Dead or Alive Unknown 1958-09-06
Movie Return to Warbow Indian Joe 1958-01-15
Movie The Lone Ranger Tonto 1956-02-25
Movie Walk the Proud Land Geronimo 1956-08-31
Movie The Vanishing American Beeteia 1955-11-17
Movie Saskatchewan Cajou 1954-03-30
Movie War Arrow Satanta 1954-01-06
Movie Drums Across the River Taos 1954-06-01
Movie The Black Dakotas Black Buffalo 1954-09-02
Movie Masterson of Kansas Yellow Hawk 1954-12-01
Movie Four Guns to the Border Yaqui 1954-11-03
Movie Last of the Comanches Indian (uncredited) 1953-02-01
Movie The Nebraskan Spotted Bear 1953-12-02
Movie Jack McCall Desperado Red Cloud 1953-03-31
Movie The Battle at Apache Pass Geronimo 1952-04-01
Movie The Legend Of The Lone Ranger Tonto 1952-01-01
Movie Yankee Buccaneer Lead Warrior 1952-09-16
Movie The Pathfinder Chingachgook 1952-12-09
Movie Brave Warrior Chief Tecumseh 1952-05-31
Movie Red Mountain Little Crow 1951-11-01
Movie The Wild Blue Yonder Benders 1951-12-05
Movie Broken Arrow Geronimo 1950-08-01
Movie Laramie Running Wolf (uncredited) 1949-05-19
Movie Enter the Lone Ranger Tonto 1949-01-01
Movie Lust for Gold Walter 1949-06-10
Movie Sand Indian (uncredited) 1949-08-03
Movie Trail of the Yukon Poleon 1949-07-31
Series The Lone Ranger Tonto 1949-09-15
Movie The Cowboy and the Indians Lakohna 1949-09-15
Movie Key Largo Tom Osceola (uncredited) 1948-07-16
Movie The Treasure of the Sierra Madre Indian Guide at Pier (uncredited) 1948-01-15
Movie Fury at Furnace Creek Little Dog (uncredited) 1948-04-30
Movie Singin' Spurs Abel 1948-09-22
Movie Family Honeymoon Elevator Boy (uncredited) 1948-12-06
Movie Yellow Sky Indian (uncredited) 1948-12-24
Movie The Feathered Serpent Diego (uncredited) 1948-12-19
Movie Gas House Kids Go West Kingsley's Henchman (uncredited) 1947-06-12
Movie The Prairie Running Deer 1947-11-27
Movie Lost in a Harem Guard at Execution (uncredited) 1944-12-01
Movie I Am an American Indian (uncredited) 1944-12-23
Movie The Girl from Monterrey Fighter Tito Flores 1943-10-04
Movie Valley of the Sun Indian 1942-02-06
Movie Perils of Nyoka Tuareg 1942-06-27
Movie Western Union Indian 1941-02-21
Movie This Woman Is Mine Indian Marauder 1941-08-22
Movie The Sea Hawk Native Lookout 1940-08-10
Movie Too Many Girls Indian 1940-10-08
Movie Kit Carson Indian 1940-08-30