I wish there was just one thing that I liked best about the Lone Ranger but, yikes!, there were so many things that were special and different about this character. Even though I was a real horse nut when I was a kid, and so I'm tempted to say "Silver", I think I have to give an edge to this small item - the mask!
That's right! Think about it. His mask is what separated him from all the other TV cowboys. He was the guy who always saved the day and left the grateful townfolk asking "Who was that masked man?"
Background of the Show
George W. Trendle and Fran Striker (a very creative writer) are generally regarded as the fathers of the Lone Ranger, but the character wasn't created that simply. A lot of people contributed to the idea of the character, his style, his appearance and everything about him. It took several months to create the moral, upright hero that we know. He was a little bit of Robin Hood and a dash of Zorro, and it proved to be a perfect mix.
Fran Striker also created another crime avenger, "The Green Hornet", and there is an interesting link between those 2 shows..
DID YOU KNOW?
In "The Lone Ranger", Dan Reid was the brother of John (the Lone Ranger). In "The Green Hornet", Dan Reid was the father of Britt (the Green Hornet)
So let's talk about the story behind this mysterious masked man.
Well, this guy was part of a possee of Texas Rangers who were chasing after some desperadoes when they were ambushed in a canyon and all were left for dead. But what the bad guys didn't know was that one of those Rangers, John Reid, survived and crawled off safely to a nearby waterhole!
In short order along came a friendly Indian named Tonto. Because John Reid had once helped him, Tonto nursed him back to health and vowed to help this "lone ranger" (yep! that's how he came by his name) avenge the deaths of the other 5 possee members and any other wrongs that needed avenging.
John Reid became "Kemo Sabe" (which means "Trusty Scout") to Tonto and, of course, the "Lone Ranger" to everyone else.
Not wanting the desperadoes to know that one of the Rangers had survived their ambush, John Reid "buried" himself along with the other 5; one of them was his brother Dan. Then, with Tonto's help, he tamed the beautiful white stallion that he named "Silver", put on the mask, got him some pretty snazzy looking duds, too, and set out to get the guys who killed all of his friends (which they did by finally cornering the outlaw Butch Cavendish).
They were now a team, along with their faithful horses "Silver" and "Scout", and went around righting wrongs in the old West!
All About the Show
The radio show started locally in 1933, but it was so popular that it quickly became a national radio show.
Then, in 1949, it was made into a half-hour TV show with simple characters and plots - basically "good guys vs. bad guys". Clayton Moore was the actor who played the Lone Ranger, except for a short time from 1952 to 1954 when the actor John Hart played the role. But there was only one Tonto - Jay Silverheels - who played the poker-faced, mixed blood Mohawk Indian to perfection! The series ended in 1957, but reruns continued thru 1961.
Each episode began with this familiar invitation - "Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear. The Lone Ranger rides again!" The William Tell overture was the Lone Ranger theme song, chosen because of the "galloping" sound it had, and you would hear it playing in the background. You can click on the center button in the video box above to view an opening clip. Pay attention to the big rock formation. Some interesting details follow about that famous place.
LONE RANGER ROCK
That big boulder in the well known scene at the beginning of each episode where Silver rears up in front of it, is called "Lone Ranger Rock", and it wasn't a staged "set". It is a natural formation, located near (what was) Iverson's Ranch in Chatsworth, California (a little north of Los Angeles). It is still there today but the scenery has changed. The rock is no longer in the wild country where so many Lone Ranger scenes were filmed. It is now surrounded by condominiums, and a major highway roars past it.
The shows were action-packed and loved by a big audience, especially kids. Parents liked the fact that this masked man spoke kindly (and in perfect English) and went around helping people who were in trouble; these traits made him a good role model for their kids.
Imagine that, putting as many bad guys in their place as the masked man did, he never actually killed anyone! He often worked it out so that the bad guys killed each other!
But he was in a lot of fights (though he seldom ever lost his hat & never got his clothes dirty!) and, if he needed help, Tonto and even Silver were always close enough to come to his aid.
Every week the Lone Ranger would save the day for a rancher, a prospector, or maybe the school marm and, after being properly thanked by all, he would ride off calling out the familiar "Hi-Ho, Silver, away!"
Another thing that I remember is that, as the Lone Ranger would disappear over the hill as he rode away, my Dad would offer his own theory about what followed next. He would always say "And now the Lone Ranger is going to go wash his shirt!"
What Happened to the Actors?
JAY SILVERHEELS was born Harold J. Smith on May 26, 1919. One of 7 brothers and sisters, he was a full-blooded Mohawk Indian born on the Six Nations Indian Reservation in Brantford, Ontario, Canada and legally changed his name in 1971. He was athletic, participating in lacrosse, boxing, and wrestling. He was on the Canadian National Lacrosse Team and came to the United States with the team in 1938. He also won wrestling championships and finished second in a Golden Gloves championship in Madison Square Garden. After his acting career, Jay became a successful horse breeder and racer. Someone asked him once if he ever thought about racing Scout. He smiled and said "Heck, I can beat Scout!". Jay's health deteriorated after a stroke in 1974, and he died on March 5, 1980 at the Motion Picture and Television Home and Hospital in Woodland Hills, CA at the age of 62. His body was cremated and the ashes were scattered over the Six Nations Reservation in Canada.
CLAYTON MOORE was born on Sept. 14, 1914 in Chicago, the son of wealthy parents (his father was an investor). He was very athletic and spent a lot of his youth at the Illinois Athletic Club where he learned gymnastics and swam. He was good friends with a young Johnny Weissmuller who also swam at the IAC and they were lifelong friends. Clayton later became a trapeze artist and left college so his troupe, The Flying Behrs, could accept an invitation to perform in the 1934 Chicago World's Fair. Before he got his most famous role, he was also a movie stuntman. Clayton died of a heart attack in West Hills, CA on Dec. 28, 1999 at age 85, survived by an adopted daughter.
What do you remember most about The Lone Ranger?
Do you have favorite memories about The Lone Ranger, Tonto, or the show in general? Please share them!
What Other Visitors Have Said
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Who was that masked man? TV episodes ended with, "Who was that Masked Man" and was many times accompanied with "Maybe this will tell you who I am" and the LR would give someone …
Personal Appearance of Clayton Moore Back in the mid fifties (I guess 1958) my mother took me to a local amusement park called Pleasure Beach--this was a very special day--my cowboy hero Clayton …
Growing up watching The Lone Ranger I was born in 1950 and my favorite television program was The Lone Ranger. I valued the character of The Lone Ranger, the way he spoke, the way he helped …
good guy morality Clayton Moore designed his own cowboy outfit; tightest among all the Hollywood cowboys. He was a trapeze artist prior to acting; this probably influenced …
More of the Music Not rated yet In addition to the "William Tell Overture," the TV Lone Ranger also used parts of "Les Préludes" by Franz Liszt. There were other melodies, some of which …
Meeting Clayton Moore, The Lone Ranger Not rated yet In 1979 I was hired to handle security for a Nostalgia
Convention to be held at the McAlpin Hotel (HOTEL PENN
SYLVANIA), in New York City, across the …
The Stunning Scenery Not rated yet When I drove through Utah in the 1980s, the scenery looked very familiar to me and I wondered if the Lone Ranger and other TV Westerns of the early days …
Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels Not rated yet Both Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels were good actors. I feel they wanted us as young children to do right and be upright citizens.
I only wish that …
His many disguises Not rated yet I enjoyed knowing all about the Lone Ranger and what he believed in. He was a true American with good values and beliefs. I never get tried of watching …
Other Lone Rangers Not rated yet If I recall there was a Lone Ranger series that lasted from 12 to 15 episodes starring seven (maybe five?) Lone Rangers before the television series. During …
The Lone Ranger on radio Not rated yet Whenever the Lone Ranger is mentioned, people always think of Clayton Moore. Many people never heard the Lone Ranger on radio although they may have known …
Brace Beamer/ Clayton Moore Not rated yet To me Brace Beamer Will Always be the Voice of the Lone Ranger. I grew up Listening to it on Radio, before TV. Then Clayton Moore Came along with allmost …
Wiliam Tell Overture by Rossini Not rated yet I watched the show every Saturday morning when I was growing up in Shaker Hts., OH. It's one of the reasons I always wanted a horse and later enjoyed riding …