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FATHER GEEK reports why IRON EYES will cry no more.

Another true American Icon of popular culture has left us to dwell among the stars. FATHER GEEK here reporting the passing of one of the most recognizable of our Native American actors, CHIEF IRON EYES CODY. Born April 3, 1915 in Tulsa, Oklahoma Cody died Monday in his Los Feliz Los Angeles home at the age of 83 of natural causes. He was probably most well-known to the general public as the "crying Indian" of the powerful and popular anti-litter campaigns of the 1970's and 80's, but Iron Eyes was so much more than the stone faced American Indian with the single tear running down his weathered leather-like cheek that graced our TVs and "Keep America Beautiful" billboards nationwide. Cody had a very long and successful career on the motion picture screen and on television as well.

Iron Eyes Cody thundered into moving picture houses during the silent film era. One of his early successes was in Cecil B. DeMille's lavish film of colonial American frontier life, ROAD TO YESTERDAY, produced in 1925 and starring William Boyd. Cody would go on to make over 80 feature motion pictures, most of them Westerns. In 1931 he would ride with Gary Cooper in Zane Grey's FIGHTING CARAVANS. While "B" westerns were Iron Eyes' bread & butter in the early years, he did land major roles in top of the line features like 1939's UNION PACIFIC with Barbara Stanwyck, Anthony Quinn, Joel McCrea and Robert Preston. In 1947 DeMille would choose Iron Eyes to star in another of his gargantuan early America epics, THE UNCONQUERED, with Cooper and Boris Karloff. Cody would serve as Technical Advisor on this film as well. He would prove apt at comic Indian roles also, and made movies with the Bowery Boys as well as 2 great Bob Hope post-war laugh riots PALEFACE and SON OF PALEFACE, and he also hammed-it-up in ABBOTT & COSTELLO LOST IN ALASKA. In 1951 Iron Eyes would appear in Billy Wilder's extremely well acted drama THE BIG CARNIVAL along side Kirk Douglas. He played Chief Crazy Horse in 1954's SITTING BULL where he drew double-duty as Technical Advisor again. He would serve in that function half a dozen times in his 8 decade spanning career with Hollywood. He was in Jimmy Stewart's tale of the Apache wars BROKEN ARROW, and Cody starred with Steve McQueen in the 1966 actioner NEVADA SMITH. In the mid-1960's Iron Eyes would revive his Crazy Horse role in THE GREAT SIOUX MASSACRE. He was the medicine man in one of my personal favorite roles of his, the gripping A MAN CALLED HORSE with Richard Harris in 1970 and he returned to comedy in 1987's dimwitted farce ERNEST GOES TO CAMP.

An expert horseman, Cody starred in many 12 & 15 chapter serials throughout the 1930's and 40's, making several with ace action director William Witney. In 1934 his exotic looks teamed him up with Bela Lugosi and a terrifying death ray in the horror serial classic, THE RETURN OF CHANDU. In 1938 Iron Eyes had roles in both HAWK OF THE WILDERNESS and Johnny MacBrown's FLAMING FRONTIERS. In 1941 he helped fight Nazi saboteurs in our nation's oil fields in Republic's "rock'em & sock'em" stuntman's wet dream KING OF THE TEXAS RANGERS. He took on more Nazis in 1942's DON WINSLOW OF THE NAVY and in the jungle "babe" adventure THE PERILS OF NYOKA he played an Arab. During his long serial career he would work many times with legendary Native American athletes Jim Thorp and Yakama Canuit.

With the popularity of the western on television in the 1950's Iron Eyes Cody rode proudly into that media as well. He appeared on several episodes of THE ADVENTURES OF WILD BILL HICKOK with Guy Madison and Andy Devine. He was on RAWHIDE with Clint Eastwood and the highly acclaimed ZANE GREY THEATER. Iron Eyes guest starred on such highly rated shows as GUNSMOKE and later on BONANZA, as well as other TV shows into the early 80's. He was featured in the made for television movies THE QUEST and SOMETHING FOR A LONELY MAN. Cody would also appear on the mini-series HOW THE WEST WAS WON as well as HOLLYWOOD.

Easily one of the most successful of Native American actors, CHIEF IRON EYES CODY will be missed by us all. He opened doors for generations of American Indian actors that have followed in, or are yet to follow in his footsteps, and thru the process he became a truly legendary American Icon of the screen. .

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