Saturday, February 9, 2019

Who Was That Masked Man? Celebrating the Lone Ranger

‘Who was that Masked Man?’ and ‘Hi-Yo Silver, Away!' are two familiar declarations to anyone who grew up watching the Lone Ranger. This one was among the greatest moralistic television shows that I watched as a boy in the 1950’s.

For those of you who do not know what this television series was about, here’s one of the Lone Ranger television movies entitled “The Letter Bride.” It’s designed to fit into a 30-minute program slot on television. Do yourself a favor and watch it before you continue reading: .

Lone Ranger On the Radio

The show itself began as a radio program in 1933 and it continued until 1949 when the program appeared on television. Here is a sample of one of the radio programs entitled: ‘The Lone Ranger, Old Time Radio, 380506 Billy Garrett Kidnapped,’ made available on YouTube by The Classic Archives (

In this radio episode, a rich rancher’s son, Billy Garrett, is kidnapped and a ransom note was sent to is folks for $10,000. Despite the fact that the note specifically stated that the boy would die if the law was brought into it, the local sheriff insisted on assembling a posse in an attempt to catch the culprits, which they assumed to be the BlackJack gang.

Interesting enough, the posse encountered the Lone Ranger, and because he had a black mask on, the Sheriff and his men sought to arrest him. Thanks to his horse, Silver, he was able to get away. In a day or so, the Lone Ranger made contact with the rancher and together they created a plan to trap the gang. Part of the plan led the Lone Ranger to speak with the head marshal of that territory so he could get the Sheriff to disband the posse to assure the safety of the boy.

Here, you can listen to this episode of the Lone Ranger for yourself:

Who is That Masked Man?

The story of the Lone Ranger is that he was part of a group of six Texas Rangers who were ambushed. There was only one survivor, the Lone Ranger. In order to hide his identity, he decided to wear a black mask, and thereby dedicating the remainder of his life to bringing bad men to justice. His efforts in this regard was funded by a silver mine, which incidentally made the pure silver bullets that he so famously became known for. Not only that, the horse he rode and the name ‘Silver’ were also given to him by the Silver mining operation, at least this is how I remember it from my precious time with him in my living room.

Perhaps you’re wondering who that masked man really was in real life. The actor that most of us identify with in the television series was Clayton Moore. He played the Lone Ranger from the show’s debut in 1949 to 1952, then from 1954 through 1957.

The program was nominated for an Emmy in 1950, but despite the good ratings, Moore was replaced by John Hart in 1952. The reason given for Moore’s departure was that of a wage dispute. But Moore later said he was never really given a satisfactory reason for the dismissal but he believed it to be a difference of opinion in matters to do with the show.

Hart played the part for two seasons, and then was replaced. Despite the mask to hide either Moore’s or Hart’s identities, the new Lone Ranger did not receive wide acceptance. In fact, after Hart left the show, his version of the Lone Ranger did not resurface until the 1980s.

There was a change in production ownership the same year, in 1954. The Lone Ranger production was originally owned by George Trendle who sold it to Jack Wrather in August of 1954. It was at this time that Moore was rehired to play the part until the show ceased to air in 1957.

The movie was filmed in black and white right from the beginning in 1949 through 1956. The last year of production, 1957, it was filmed in color. The television network, ABC, would only pay for black-and-white film, so the new owner paid the additional money out of his own pocket.

Clayton Moore: the Man Behind the Mask

One of the things that I enjoy about writing these stories in WMD is the fact that I often think back to shows like this and I wonder “whatever happened to this person or that person?”

Although Clayton Moore ended up in Hollywood, he was actually born in Chicago on September 14, 1914. It’s funny how five short years can actually define the remainder of a man’s life, but this is exactly what happened to Moore as he played this part over and over until his death on December 28, 1999.

I’m afraid I’ve gotten ahead of myself here.

Moore came from a fairly prosperous family. He was the youngest of three sons to a real estate broker who lived and worked in the Chicago area. Because he was athletic, he started out at the age of eight working in a circus as an acrobat. After graduating from high school, he worked at modeling. Then, in the late 1930s, he moved to Hollywood were he became a stuntman, although he continued to model.

Clayton Moore was actually a stage name given to him in 1940 by movie producer, Edward Small. His real name was Jack Carlton Moore, It was then that Moore was cast in B Western movies. This led him to accept parts in four Republic Studio cliffhangers and two additional films for Columbia. And then, when World War II came along, he enlisted, appearing in a variety of military training films.

As I mentioned earlier, Moore’s five years as the Lone Ranger ended up defining the remainder of Moore’s life. He made many television guest appearances, commercials, and attended a variety of events. Tonto, his sidekick in the movies, played by Jay Silverheels, appeared along with him at Lone Ranger reunions during the 1960s. Incidentally, Silverheels was a real-life Indian as part of the Mohawk Aboriginal tribe in Canada.

On December 28, 1999, the Lone Ranger suffered a fatal heart attack. He is survived by his wife Clarita Moore (his 4th wife) as well as an adopted daughter, Dawn Angela Moore. He was cremated and now his public resting place is in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.

Clayton Moore At Forest Lawn In Glendale, CA

“Welcome to Famous Grave Tours. Thanks for joining me as I visit the cemeteries, grave sites, memorials and final resting places of the famous (and sometimes infamous) people who have touched our lives. From movie stars to world leaders, from those whose died before their time, to those who lived to be centenarians--they may be gone, but they're not forgotten.

“In this video tour, I visit and tour the graves of actors Clayton Moore and Errol Flynn, at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park cemetery in Glendale, California. Both actors are buried in the Court of Freedom, Garden of Everlasting Peace courtyard” (FAMOUS GRAVE TOUR: The Lone Ranger Actor,

In conclusion, in honor of Clayton Moore, the world’s first and last Lone Ranger, we’ll be featuring Lone Ranger videos in the WMD Hot Box all week long. Every day or so we’ll add another one to the box, starting tomorrow morning, Monday, February 11, 2019. Thank you for tuning in to the Western Magazine Digest, a publication of TpromoCom of Canton, Ohio.

Author: Allan Colombo

From the Hot Box, Lone Ranger videos!

The Lone Ranger 1949 Pilot

The Lone Ranger Gold Train

The Lone Ranger A Broken Match

The Lone Ranger | S01 E03 | The Lone Ranger's Triumph

The Lone Ranger | 1 Hour Compilation | HD

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