I must have driven State Road 79 to Phoenix a dozen times. On each of those travels I’d pass the Tom Mix Wash and, in passing, wonder who Tom Mix was and what he did to be famous enough to have a wash named after himself. It wasn’t until his name came up in connection with a certain Santa Rita Hotel that I remembered the name “Tom Mix” long enough to look him up. That’s when I learned that Tom Mix Wash was where silent film star Tom Mix spent the last moments of his life.
The names Clint Eastwood and John Wayne have been synonymous with western film for as long as I’ve been alive. What I didn’t know was that there was another name that had made the genre popular long before I was born. That fellow was Tom Mix.