Silverheels, Jay

Jay Silverheels, professional name of Harry (Harold Jay) Smith, later legally changed to Jay Smith Silverheels, actor (b on the Six Nations Indian Reserve, Ont 26 May 1919; d at Woodland Hills, Calif 5 Mar 1980). A leading athlete on his reserve as a youth, he was a top lacrosse player and boxer. He was spotted by comedian Joe E. Brown during a Hollywood tour with a lacrosse team in 1938. Joining the Actor's Guild with Brown's help, he worked his way up from extra to starring roles in over 30 films, including Broken Arrow (1950), Saskatchewan (1954), The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing (1973) and of course the Lone Ranger films (1956, 1958), based on the TV series (1949-57) in which he immortalized the role of Tonto. He assisted many budding actors personally and through the Indian Actors Workshop which he founded in Hollywood in 1963. He was active in sports, especially harness racing, throughout his life.