Silverheels achieved his greatest fame as the Lone Ranger's friend Tonto. In addition to starring in the Lone Ranger television series from 1949 to 1957, Silverheels appeared in the films The Lone Ranger (1956) and The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold (1958).
Following the end of the Lone Ranger television series, Silverheels found himself typecast as Tonto and had trouble finding further acting work. Silverheels was also hindered by a changing attitude, as some felt that the Tonto character was equivalent to a Native American Uncle Tom. Subsequently, Silverheels was forced to work as a salesman to supplement his acting income. He also began to concentrate on writing poetry influenced by his youth on the Six Nations Indian Reserve and appeared on television reciting his poetry.
Despite the typecasting, Silverheels often poked fun at his character in later years. In 1969, he appeared as Tonto in a comedy sketch on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, seeking new employment away from the Lone Ranger. The sketch was featured on the 1973 record album Here's Johnny: Magic Moments From The Tonight Show.
Among his later appearances were an episode of The Brady Bunch, as a Native chief who befriends the Bradys in the Grand Canyon, and an episode of the short-lived Dusty's Trail, starring Bob Denver of Gilligan's Island fame.
In the early 1960s, Silverheels helped to establish the Indian Actors Workshop in Echo Park, California as a place where Native American actors could develop their acting skills. The workshop is still active.
Married in 1945, Silverheels was the father of two boys and a girl. He died of a stroke in Calabasas, California and was cremated. His ashes were returned home to Six Nations Indian Reserve.
The Indian paint industry: the Indian paint market is poised to grow at a steady rate over the next decade fueled largely by a growing economy and changing consumer attitudes.
May 01, 2008; The Indian paint industry has been growing at an average rate of 13% over the last five years. However, the per capita paint...