When news that cowgirl and silent film actress, Victoria Forde, had left her husband Western star, Tom Mix, in August 1928, fans were crushed. The husband-and-wife team had entertained audiences in several films together between 1914 and 1922. Both were skilled riders who performed their own stunts in the cowboy and outlaw movies made for the Selig Polyscope Company. They were well-loved by movie-goers across the country and their marriage was as admired as their talent. Everyone imagined their homelife mirrored their idyllic onscreen relationship.
Victoria Forde was born on April 21, 1896, in Manhattan, New York. Her mother was a popular Broadway actress who nurtured her daughter’s love for horseback riding and entertaining. She helped get Victoria work in films when she was fourteen. The teenager made several pictures with Biograph Company, one of the first major American motion-picture studios in the early days of filmmaking. In 1912, Victoria signed a contract with Nestor Studios and in a five-year period made more than a hundred short films with the company. When her time with Nestor Studios ended, she joined Selig Studios. She was thrilled to be signed to appear in Western films because she could ride her horse while appearing opposite Tom Mix.
Victoria and Tom were married in 1918 and made more than thirty short Western together. In 1922, the couple welcomed their daughter Thomasina to the world. Shortly after her birth, Victoria retired from acting to stay home with the child. By August 1928, the Mix’s marriage was all but over. Tom made the announcement during an interview with a reporter for the North American Newspaper Alliance. According to the cowboy star, Victoria had moved to Paris with their daughter and was seeking a divorce.
“It seems Victoria Forde wasn’t such a great actress when she and Tom Mix married,” an article about the pair in the Los Angeles Times read. “Nor was Tom the ace of Westerns then, as he is now, with several millions to his credit. He was making a fair living when he met Victoria and she was an ambitious girl who had lofty ideas for her future. One of those was to be able to have her face operated on by a good plastic surgeon. A horseback accident had marred her features. And one of the first things her husband had done for her was a facial operation in which the marks of the horse’s hoof were eradicated.”
The article indicated that Tom’s drinking was one of the reasons for the marriage ending. He had a problem with alcohol that Victoria couldn’t handle. The couple divorced in 1931.
Victoria never returned to the screen. She died on July 24, 1964, at the age of sixty-eight.