Biography

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.

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.

Personal Info

Known For Acting

Gender Male

Known Credits 61

Birthday 1912-05-26

Day of Death 1980-03-05

Place of Birth -

Official Site -

Also Known As

  • -

Acting TV ShowsMovies

2001 Lone Ranger: Lost Episodes as Tonto
1973 Santee as John Crow
1973 The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing as The Chief
1973 One Little Indian as Jimmy Wolf
1971 Cannon (1 episode)
1970 The Phynx as Tonto
1969 The Brady Bunch (1 episode)
1969 Smith! as McDonald Lasheway
1966 Pistols 'n' Petticoats (2 episodes)
1965 Indian Paint as Chief Hevatanu
1965 Branded (1 episode)
1964 Daniel Boone (3 episodes) as Sashona
1959 Rawhide (1 episode)
1958 Wanted: Dead or Alive (1 episode)
1958 Return To Warbow as Indian Joe
1958 The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold as Tonto
1956 Walk the Proud Land as Geronimo
1956 The Lone Ranger as Tonto
1955 The Vanishing American as Beeteia
1954 Masterson Of Kansas as Yellow Hawk
1954 Four Guns to the Border as Yaqui
1954 The Black Dakotas as Black Buffalo
1954 Drums Across the River as Taos
1954 Saskatchewan as Cajou
1954 War Arrow as Satanta
1953 The Nebraskan as Spotted Bear
1953 Jack McCall Desperado as Red Cloud
1953 Last of the Comanches as Indian (uncredited)
1952 The Pathfinder
1952 Yankee Buccaneer as Lead Warrior
1952 Brave Warrior as Chief Tecumseh
1952 The Battle at Apache Pass as Geronimo
1952 The Legend Of The Lone Ranger as Tonto
1951 The Wild Blue Yonder as Benders
1951 Red Mountain as Little Crow
1950 Broken Arrow as Geronimo
1949 The Lone Ranger (14 episodes) as Tonto
1949 The Cowboy and the Indians as Lakohna
1949 Sand as Indian (uncredited)
1949 Trail of the Yukon as Poleon
1949 Lust for Gold as Walter
1949 Laramie as Running Wolf (uncredited)
1949 Enter the Lone Ranger as Tonto
1948 Yellow Sky as Indian (uncredited)
1948 Family Honeymoon as Elevator Boy (uncredited)
1948 Singin' Spurs as Abel
1948 Key Largo as Tom Osceola (uncredited)
1948 Fury at Furnace Creek as Little Dog (uncredited)
1948 The Treasure of the Sierra Madre as Indian Guide at Pier (uncredited)
1947 The Prairie as Running Deer
1947 Gas House Kids Go West as Kingsley's Henchman (uncredited)
1944 I Am an American as Indian (uncredited)
1944 Lost in a Harem as Guard at Execution
1943 The Girl from Monterrey as Fighter Tito Flores
1942 Perils of Nyoka as Tuareg
1942 Valley of the Sun as Indian
1941 This Woman Is Mine as Indian Marauder
1941 Western Union as Indian
1940 Too Many Girls as Indian
1940 Kit Carson as Indian
1940 The Sea Hawk as Native Lookout

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