The Lone Ranger, the sole survivor of an ambushed company of Texas Rangers. He was nursed back to health by his steady Indian companion Tonto, and together they fight crime and injustice. The Lone Ranger embodies every myth of early twentieth century American morals and has delighted children and adults alike since the 1930's. But who was that masked man? Is the modern myth based upon some older, more truthful legend?
No. Sorry, it's all made up. The Lone Ranger was created by Detroit radio station owner George Washington Trendle and scriptwriter Fran Striker and first aired on WXYZ and seven other Michigan affiliates on January 30, 1933. The radio show proved so popular that it was turned into a television show that had its debut on the fifteenth of September 1949.
It was the first western produced for television. Hopalong Cassidy had been the first western on the air, but the telecast images were all old stock film footage. The show lasted for 221 episodes and ran until 1957 running concurrently with the radio program until its demise in 1954.
If you mention The Lone Ranger to any baby boomer they'll undoubtedly think of Clayton Moore. Moore was only one of many actors who portrayed the epitome white hat, but he played the character the longest. When the show was cancelled in 1957 Moore continued playing The Lone Ranger at public appearances, often visiting children in the hospital.
The Wrather Corporation bought the rights to The Lone Ranger from Mr. Trendle in 1954 for 3 million dollars. By the late seventies the Wrather Corporation was trying to get a Lone Ranger movie off the ground and asked Moore to stop wearing the mask in public. They had a younger man in mind for the role and didn't want his presence interfering. Moore refused and in 1979 the Wrather Corporation obtained a court order restraining Moore from wearing the mask. In response Moore took to wearing sunglasses in the shape of the mask and begun an active public campaign to reverse the court order by appearing on numerous talk shows and news programs.
The Wrather Corporation released "The Legend of The Lone Ranger" in 1981. It bombed, badly, losing more than 11 million dollars. The actor contracted to portray The Lone Ranger was Klinton Spilsbury, whose voice was pitched so high that the studio had all of his dialogue dubbed over, badly. After finally coming to grips with their loss the Wrather Corporation relented and in 1984 allowed Moore to don the mask once again.