December 06, 1976 12:00 PM

“I always played myself,” says Tim McCoy, 85, one of the Big Five among Hollywood cowboys (the others were Tom Mix, Hoot Gibson, Ken Maynard and Buck Jones). Dressed all in black except for his Stetson and bandanna, McCoy routed the bad guys in some 200 Westerns. He came to Hollywood in 1922 after serving as adjutant general of Wyoming. “They were in a hell of a fix. They were all set to make this big picture, Covered Wagon, and didn’t have any Indians.” For $40 a week McCoy served as an adviser on the film and provided the Indians. In his youth he had served in the cavalry with Indian troops and had mastered several Indian dialects. Until 1974, when he suffered a slipped disk, McCoy did a bullwhip act in a Wild West show. A widower, he lives in a hacienda he built himself outside No-gales, Ariz. He still receives fan mail, and a just-published book of Western nostalgia, They Went Thataway, by James Horwitz, devotes a chapter to him. McCoy’s oldest son, Ronald, 29, named for his godfather, actor Ronald Coleman, is also writing a biography of his dad. McCoy is content in retirement, but not with what he sees on the screen these days. “It’s the tough guy who’s the hero now, not the fine, upstanding fellow,” he laments.

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