Saturday Sidekicks: Paul Fix, Who Appeared on Average in 1 Out of Every 7 John Wayne Films

Paul Fix and John Wayne prepare to make a big boom in the Andes in Tycoon.

Yakima Canutt, a mainstay of John Wayne’s early films, and Bruce Cabot, who appeared in a cluster of Wayne’s later films, tend to get much of the recognition for being among Duke’s recurring roster of co-stars. But in fact there is only one actor whose work as a co-star spanned almost John Wayne’s entire career: Paul Fix. We wouldn’t be surprised if many readers are now asking themselves, “Paul Who?”

Paul Fix acted in 25 films alongside John Wayne between 1931 (Three Girls Lost) and 1973 (Cahill, United States Marshal). That’s an average of one of every seven Wayne films. An adaptable actor of the old school, he could just as adroitly play a breezy smart-aleck miner (Tycoon) as a frontier doctor (El Dorado) or a modern-day Air Force major (Jet Pilot). His acting work from the late 1950s onward was primarily in television rather than film. He appeared in multiple episodes of TV’s The Streets of San Francisco, Barnaby Jones, The F.B.I., Alias Smith and Jones, Bonanza, The Virginian, Death Valley Days, Perry Mason, and, most memorably, The Rifleman, for which he played Marshal Micah Torrance in 150 episodes from 1958 to 1963. To say Fix was an in-demand actor hardly does him justice.

From their early days just starting out together in Hollywood, Fix and Wayne were good pals Certainly Fix’s conservative political outlook, which Wayne shared, didn’t harm their friendship. By at least one account, Fix taught Duke the rolling gait that became Wayne’s physical trademark in an effort to help Wayne stand out from other movie cowboys.

While he’s hardly unsung, Paul Fix doesn’t always get full credit for the sheer volume of work he did in John Wayne’s films, not to mention the always dependable performances he gave. So here’s to another one of Duke’s worthy sidekicks, Paul Fix!

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