Thomas Edwin Mix was an American film actor and the star of many early Western movies. He made a reported 336 films between 1910 and 1935, all but 9 of which were silent features. He was Hollywood’s first Western megastar and is noted as having defined the genre for all cowboy actors who followed.
On the afternoon of October 12, 1940 Mix was driving his 1937 Cord 812 Phaeton near Florence, Arizona (between Tucson and Phoenix) on a two-lane road when he came upon construction barriers at a bridge previously washed away by a flash flood. A workcrew watched as he was unable to brake in time and his car slid into a gully. A large, polished aluminium suitcase he had put on the seat behind him flew forward and struck Mix in the back of the head, shattering his skull and breaking his neck. The 60 year old actor was killed almost instantly. Accounts vary as to whether Mix was speeding before the accident, along with the role alcohol consumption may have played.
The site of his death is located on what is now Arizona State Route 79. There is an historical marker and the gully is named Tom Mix Wash.