- Historic Sites
High Eagle The Many Lives Of Colonel Tim Mccoy
June 1977 | Volume 28, Issue 4
Yes, it practically finished me. I came back and got in touch with my agent and said, well, I’m ready to go to work again. Now, I was the same guy that went off to war and in just as good shape, and what we ran up against was this: “Oh, Tim’s been offthe screen for a long time.”
And I said, “But I’ve been to war. ”
“Well, a lot of the guys have been in the war, so what?” That’s when I said, “Oh, the hell with it.” And I fussed around a bit and I saw this thing television coming on, so I just lowered my head like a buffalo and charged. I got myself a television program that I had for five years, right in Hollywood. I got that Emmy for it, up there on the shelf.
You were almost a pioneer in TV too?
Yeah, I was the first one, I think, that started a one-man show. I had a one-man show but I would gather around me all that bunch of Indians I had used in pictures for years. They were very versatile, and if I wanted to do a thing about the Hopi Indians they were Hopis. IfI wanted to do something about the Plains Indians they were Plains Indians. I could go over to the director of the Southwest Museum and borrow anything out of the cases. Maybe if I was doing a Hopi wedding, I had the original Hopi wedding dresses and everything was authentic. Or I might go into guns—Colts and rifles. A teacher told me one time she took a class over to the Southwest Museum, and as they stepped in the door there were some guns on the wall, and a little kid ran right over and he started telling her about the guns. She asked him how he knew all those details. He said, “I saw Tim McCoy on the television.” He had learned all aboutit.
I had prime time. I was on Saturday night at seven o’clock on KNX-TV out there. Well, the guy that took my place was Jackie Gleason.
Would you care to make any observations on the progress of TV between then and now?
Well, I don’t like what TV is doing. It’s just like the picture business, except it’s on a smaller screen. And if someone gets an idea about one picture everybody wants to make another picture just like it.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m exactly like Cal Stuart, a fellow who was in vaudeville years ago, did one of those early New England characters. As he talked he whittled. He’s speaking about his son who he sent off to school. He asked him, he said: “Did you go through Algebra?” And the boy said, “IfI did it was in the night and I was on the train and I didn’t see it.” He whittled for awhile and then he said, “The boy has a bright future, behind him.” So when you say, what are my plans for the future, I have a bright future behind me.
There is one thing, though. I told you earlier that I have no unfulfilled ambitions, but that isn’t exactly true. There’s one thing left in my life needs doing, and I’ll have a hard time lying still if I don’t do it.
A couple of years ago, I drove up through Wyoming and I knew that between Lander and Riverton, right on the edge where St. Steven’s Jesuit Mission is, there was an Indian cemetery and a lot of my old friends would be buried there. So I pulled my car off the road and fought my way through the weeds up to this Indian burying ground and I practically wept. Here were these old-time buffalohunting Indians, buried in a place that no pet cemetery … of course, pet cemeteries are well kept. Weeds, dirt, beer cans, crosses knocked down, the damnedest looking place I’d ever seen. So I made up my mind that I’m going back up there, get a few friends who will contribute some money, and go on up there and clean up that cemetery and put it back so it is respectable for those Indians to lie in.
I walked around there, through the weeds and the junk, and saw the names of my friends. They Anglicized all of their names. We have taken away not only their culture but even their names. James L. Brown. I said, “For God’s sake, that’s Jim Lonebear.” D. D. Hill—this Indian’s name was Drives Downhill. And the one that really got me was Charles Caldwell. He was a big chief in the Arapahoes, Yellow Calf. He’s buried under the name of Caldwell. God Almighty!
There is a tombstone up there that is most interesting. Indians that had a little money and had ranches and made the ranching business go, they didn’t become wealthy or anything of the sort. But this one is so pathetic. They got a white tombstone and had taken it in and had it carved: “Annie Wise, aged four years, buried in coffin same as a white man.” Pretty damn pathetic, isn’t it? I’ve got the priest up there now at the reservation, hunting to find where my old friend Chief Goes In Lodge is buried. I know he’s buried out there in that cemetery somewhere. Not even a marker. He’s my brother.