Jay Silverheels was best known as the actor who rode solemn-faced through hundreds of death-defying television adventures as Tonto, the faithful Indian companion of the Lone Ranger.
A Mohawk Indian and an accomplished athlete, Silverheels became a popular video hero in the late 1940s. And, with costar Clayton Moore, who played the title role, he remained, through reruns, one of the most recognizable of television's "good guys."
He was born and spent his early years on the Six Nations Indian Reservation in the province of Ontario, Canada.
In 1933, while touring the country with a lacrosse team, the handsome young Indian was spotted by actor-comedian Joe R. Brown, who encouraged him to come to Hollywood. But he waited until 1938, when he began working as an extra in cowboy-and-Indian epics. He did not win a speaking role until well into the 1940s.
Silverheels made his last public appearance when a star bearing his name was embedded in the sidewalk in the Hollywood Walk of Fame.