Sunday, November 29, 2020

The Origin of Silver, Part 2

By Martin Grams, Jr.  

Editor's Note: This is part 2 of Martin Grams' wonderful story on how Silver began.
To read part 1 first, click here!

RANGER: Hi Yo, Silver! Awaaayyy!

The second origin story, dismissing the February 6, 1935 broadcast, was dramatized six months later on the evening of August 26, 1935, and would be dramatized again in 1938 and 1952, and an abridged version for a 1951 Decca record sold in stores.

As recounted by the announcer during the August 26 broadcast, “The Lone Ranger did not always ride Silver. Before the fame of the mystery rider spread throughout the length and breadth of seven states, there was another horse. One called Dusty.” With no trademarked silver horseshoes, Dusty was described as a chestnut mare, female, and not from Wild Horse Valley where Silver, his successor, was born and raised. This was also the only broadcast of the series to make reference to Dusty.

Nestled in a valley in the heart of green hills was a sanctuary, where man had never been. Here, the grass grew green and lush, and shady trees spread green boughs to cast soft shade. Here from the living rock came waterfalls sweet and pure. King Sylvan and his gentle mate Moussa ruled the land. Their court was made up of untamed horses that never saw a man, nor knew his inventions. Sylvan won the right to rule his followers by might and courage. He was the fleetest of foot, quickest of eye, and greatest of strength. There came a day when the mare, Moussa, bore King Sylvan a son. Then, the family’s happiness was complete. His fleet hooves pounded the turf, racing, turning, flashing in his joy. 

The great white stallion hoped the little one would see the strength and splendid body that would someday be his. He looked like a drift of virgin snow, with the sun turning every hair into gleaming points of silver fire. Almost as soon as he was born the white one began to display those characteristics which afterwards made him a leader of the band that his father ruled before him. Strong, graceful and fearless, with the heart and courage of a lion, but added to them was the sweetness and gentleness of Moussa, his mother.

For many months the colt grew in size, his colthood left behind him, until he could outdistance Moussa and run side by side with his illustrious father. Like the wind, the white one and Sylvan raced side by side. Two beautiful milk white creatures, King Sylvan and the prince. How the sun flashed from their sleek bodies… how they raced, cut, turned and whirled in sheer joy of life. Then there came tragedy to the life of the little one. The light of the world was covered for Moussa. She went to the everlasting valley of happiness, but not before her little son was full grown and ready to fight for his place in the kingdom of Sylvan. Day after day the brave horse fought his rivals in the field of battle. It was the prince’s duty to fight for and to hold his princely position. It was his duty to meet all comers and accept all challengers. Sylvan remained the King, but could his white offspring remain prince? Battles were furious. No quarter was asked, and none was given. Never did the white colt pause in the attack until his rival lay at his feet. Then there came the last to challenge, who went to defeat as had others before him. The white one lifted his voice in victory.

It was then that man came into the valley with misery and pain and tragedy. Squint and Butch, having robbed an Express Office, make for a valley rumored by Indians as having the finest horses in the West, in an effort to evade the posse en route across the Mexican border. With gun and rope to conquer or kill, the fast stallions were the goal of their craven schemes. The sight of man was a strange one to the wild horses and thundering hooves surged forward. The white prince sounded the battle cry. Thunder roared from weapons in the hands of the men, wild screams of pain came from the pack. But the fury of those hammering hooves could not be withstood. The men retreated, running to save their lives. There was no joy in this victory, however, as King Sylvan sent his soul to join that of Moussa. Sylvan’s strong white neck was cruelly hurt by the rope of the white men. Sylvan was no longer king. In his stead the white one should rule. But to what end? As he stood, the white horse found little left for him in the valley. His was the heart of a conqueror. He would leave the valley to cross that purple ridge in the distance, to see what was beyond. While he stood with proud head lifted high, there came again the form he had so recently learned to hate… man. *

* In the 1935 broadcast, Fred Reto played the role of Butch and Charles Livingtone played the role of Squint. Malcolm McCoy played the role of the horses in Wild Horse Valley.

The Lone Ranger and Tonto, trailing the outlaws, come across the magnificent white stallion. “Did you ever see such a splendid creature?” the masked man asked his friend. Tonto agreed the white beast was finer than old Dusty, who certainly earned her rest. Tonto expressed desire in killing the outlaws after finding the remains of King Sylvan. Walking over the top of the mountain and venturing into vast stretches of level country, the white stallion came across a new foe: wild buffalo. A huge shaggy buffalo, dirty mud color, a tangled mane, and fire breathing nostrils. Its bloodshot eyes glared at the white one in hatred and the sharp-hoofed feet stamped on the ground in rage. From the horrible beast there came a roar and then this monster came to life and dove at the white stallion in a rush that seemed to concentrate the fury of centuries. This was a battle to the death. Hooves churned the ground. Great clouds of dust arose and the reek of blood and sweat filled the air. The great head of the buffalo was like a battering ram as it drove into the white body of the horse time after time. Tumbling and weak, the white one grew unsteady, but his gallant heart knew no defeat so he fought on. With one last gallant effort the king of the horses raised his head to meet the death that was to come. The evil red eyes of the buffalo glowed in savage hate and victorious glee. It was the end of the reign of the white one until there was a thundering approach of hooves, a wild cry of an oncoming rider. “Come on Dusty! Hi-Yo, Dusty!”

The buffalo fell victim to the accurate fire of The Lone Ranger’s six-guns. Then a great peace descended on the white horse as he lay there wounded. The Lone Ranger and Tonto gave the stallion water and nursed his wounds. Then the white horse, trembled on weakened legs, fled. The Lone Ranger and his faithful half-breed Indian friend continued on the trail to Coppers Bend in further pursuit of the outlaws. It was not long before the outlaws discovered they were being hunted. Squint drew his gun and opened fire. The Lone Ranger and Tonto were forced to dive to the ground when a fatal bullet hit Dusty, sending her on to greater pastures. The white stallion, after leaving The Lone Ranger, seemed to feel that he left one that would be a friend, not an enemy to other horses. The Lone Ranger sought to overtake the men and never could a horse have been more welcome. On he thundered, to where the masked man stood. There he paused, docile, willing to be a servant to this man. The Lone Ranger swung to the white’s back, without saddle or bridle, and sought to pursue the bandits. For the first time there came the shout that was later to ring throughout the country… “Hi-Yo, Silver!”

Faster than any horse had ever moved, swift as the wind, a flash of white flame… the great stallion swept across the prairie, his strength seemed greater than ever before. He was inspired by love… a new love of horse for master. On his back a man he would ever serve. A man that brought him life when death was near. The outlaws’ horses could never match this terrific speed. They were overtaken, roped by the quick hand of The Lone Ranger, brought to earth and held until the lawmen could overtake them. Riding off to meet up with Tonto, The Lone Ranger spoke to his new steed: “You understand me, great-hearted horse that you are. Your rare beauty with your heart of gold, and your skin of silver. Silver, that’s the word. Pure silver and you’re mine. For now and forever… mine. Through storm and sunshine, Silver, through good or ill, we will travel together. Tonto is over there, Silver. That’s your name, fellow. Silver. Let’s join Tonto, my friend… our friend. Hi Yo, Silver! Away!”

Continuity was thrown out the door when you recall how The Lone Ranger was already riding Silver in the first radio broadcast of the series and picked up Tonto as a sidekick after a dozen adventures. As noted, this was also the only radio broadcast to make reference to a horse named Dusty, and future retellings avoided the reference. (Remember, Striker’s origins and conceptions evolved over the years.)

Silver was distinguished by other horses in comparison through two other qualities. The strength and speed of the stallion was emphasized numerous times, especially when The Lone Ranger raced to the rescue or had to ride out to fetch a vital component to ensure resolution. On a number of occasions, the masked man would tell his stallion how they would have to break a record of speed and ride like they never had before to ensure success.

The other quality was that only The Lone Ranger was capable of mounting and riding the stallion who was many times described as larger in size than most stallions. A number of supporting characters made reference on the program to having never seen a horse of that size before; others spoke legend of the steed riding the countryside à la will-o’-the-wisp. Few exceptions were demonstrated when the second party rode with The Lone Ranger, demonstrating Silver’s allowance with the masked man’s approval. For the broadcast of July 4, 1933, The Lone Ranger rescues a gal named Sally and sends her back to town, riding on top Silver, to fetch the sheriff and a posse. By August 19, 1933, Tonto was riding together with The Lone Ranger on top of Silver (even though Tonto would utilize his donkeys and cart interchangeably through the months). At the close of February 2, 1934, The Lone Ranger puts two lovebirds on top of Silver and instructs them to release the horse when they are home… knowing Silver will find his way back. On the broadcast of March 8, 1935, Tonto rides Silver into a café, leading a charge of stolen horses inside, wrecking the place to ensure the crooked Boss Proctor would not be in business for a long time. (The Lone Ranger jumps on board to ride off at the end.) For the broadcast of November 4, 1936, sensing danger after a lengthy time, the great horse Silver parted the strands and raced off to find Tonto after the masked man was apprehended, tied and bound. It was Tonto who rode Silver back to the ranch and to rescue. A similar scenario happened more than once. On the broadcast of April 26, 1935, The Lone Ranger is ambushed by Morgan and Dick Flint (a crooked sheriff) as he enters the town of Mustang. They scheme to rob a bank and frame The Lone Ranger for the crime. In the tussle of the capture, Silver manages to escape. As the crooks go to work breaking into the safe, Silver returns with Tonto. On the broadcast of December 2, 1936, when Silver obeyed his master’s command and dashed away from town, toward the distant hills from which The Lone Ranger had come, in search of Tonto.

Other amusements from the early years include Tonto making biscuits over the campfire to feed to Silver on April 23, 1934. “Good biscuit makum Silver strong,” Tonto stated to the masked man, possibly doubling as a cross-promotion for Silvercup bread. On the evening of January 8, 1937, outlaws attempt to place The Lone Ranger under arrest when the masked man takes the blame for the apparent murder, while Silver instinctively flees to fetch Tonto.

The Lone Ranger’s respect and admiration for his horse could be deputized for love and affection, and perhaps more than any man for his horse, demonstrated more than once on the program. The first of two noteworthy examples was on the evening of February 4, 1935. En route to Tombstone, Silver breaks his leg just north of the town of White River, forcing The Lone Ranger and Tonto to camp short of their destination. “I’d a thousand times prefer shooting myself than putting a bullet through Silver,” the masked man remarked. Sheriff Dave Slade of White River arrests Bart Conway for the murder of Mr. Hanford, much to the disappointment of Jessie Hanford, Bart’s sweetheart. The Sheriff orders Bart to shoot the wounded horse and Tonto stands in his way.

TONTO: You shoot’um me first!

SHERIFF: We can do that, too! Drill the hoss, Bart!

RANGER: Hold on! If you draw a gun on that horse, I swear to heaven I’ll kill both of you, and you’ll be the first men I have ever killed!

The Lone Ranger, knowing Bart never had the nerve to shoot and kill a horse that the Sheriff suggested needed to be put under, investigates to learn how Mr. Hanford committed suicide, and arranged his death in such a way that Bart would be accused and hang for murder. Hanford tied a string to a sapling outside the chimney, pulled on the string and shot himself with the death gun… which retracted into and partially up the chimney to prevent the murder weapon from being found.

RANGER: Tonto, we can’t get away from them on foot!

TONTO: We mebbe need killum!

RANGER: That isn’t in our book, Tonto… we can’t kill…

TONTO: Mebbe have to unmask.

RANGER: I… I can’t do that, either.

The Sheriff and his deputies, wanting The Lone Ranger to unmask, surrounded the vigilante and his Indian ally. The Lone Ranger faced a complicated situation until Silver raced to the rescue, fully healed from his sprained leg.

The second narrative was on the broadcast of March 19, 1937, when Silver raced to the rescue to save the masked man. The Beasley Gang rides into Durango and shoots up the town, killing a man in the streets. The gang aims to head into the San Juan Mountains, fearing the masked rider who sought to apprehend them in recent weeks. The Lone Ranger, however, is ambushed and shot, falling into the ravine, leaving the great white stallion at the mercy of the outlaws. The Lone Ranger tells his steed to play dead while he falls into the ravine, hoping the outlaws will pursue the masked man, not the horse. But his efforts were in vain. The outlaws quickly discover the stallion was not dead and attempt to apprehend the beast. The gallant stallion fought like one possessed of super strength and fury. The long legs lashed out again and again, and the silver shod hooves brought down a second man. A rope thrown over the powerful white neck was jerked from the hands of the man who held it, and Silver bared his teeth as he fought against the fiends who’d shot his master. Finally, Butch was forced to let go of the reins he held, and then every ounce of the great strength of Silver was put into one frantic leap. The horse broke free and ran off. For a long time, the Beasley Gang followed Silver up the dangerous rocky trail through the San Juan Mountains. Silver kept a good distance ahead of them and looked back from time to time to see that they were still following. The gallant stallion seemed to know what was in their minds. Though he felt in his horse mind that his place was back at the side of The Lone Ranger who had fallen into the ravine, he kept on, dodging and evading and keeping away from the outlaws.

The sheriff’s posse, meanwhile, had done its best to trail the Beasley gang, but had finally been forced to give up the search and return to Durango. They were a tired, travel-worn group of men, seeking vengeance for old Jake, their friend who had been shot and killed in the streets of Durango. Silver walked into town, past the sheriff’s office, where a horse with no rider did not go unnoticed. Despite his struggles, Silver was roped in a stable for the night. In his mind, he did not know that morning would be too late for help to reach his master, he only knew that he was tied and helpless while the masked man whom he loved was suffering and in grim peril. He struggled against the hard rope. He tugged until the rope bit into the flesh of his neck, then he squirmed and wriggled, and his proud head shook in fury at the confining lashes, but the rope held firm. Then Silver tried another means of escape. He turned until the rope was slack and then he gripped it in his teeth and chewed. With the rope weakened, he tugged again, disregarding the pain, and finally the strong rope parted. Silver gave a whinny of defiance and charged through the door of the stable. The sheriff and deputy were outside when they saw the horse race toward them. Observing the horse shod with Silver, the sheriff rallied his men back into saddle. Following Silver like a bloodhound chasing a fox, the Sheriff and his men take off for the San Juan Mountains, with Tonto joining the posse.

The Lone Ranger was painfully wounded, and badly bruised at the bottom of the ravine. Throughout the night he lay there with no thought of himself. His only interest was in the safe escape of his great horse Silver. Dawn brought a gray light into the ravine and he looked through the slits of his mask at hard-faced men who climbed through the underbrush to reach him. Beasley was anxious to see the face behind the mask. With guns in hand, feebly the masked man ordered them to stand away. He shoots the gun out of the hands of one gang member, then threatens: “I have still some bullets in these guns. Though I’ve never shot to kill… I’ll do so now! You’ve killed Silver! The next shot won’t be for your hand! I’ve one thing to tell you men! Your kind has never gone uncaptured for very long. The hangman’s rope will get you in the end.” Butch sneaks from behind to disarm the masked man but before the vigilante can be unmasked, the Sheriff and his posse arrive. A member of the posse shoots and wounds Beasley while down into the steep ravine the great horse Silver charged. He led the way for Tonto, the Sheriff and the posse. Into the midst of the outlaws he lashed with hard shod hooves and struck down the leader, Beasley! The lawman closed in and the fight was short and hard, but the outlaws had no chance. They were roped and disarmed and then Tonto helped the masked man to a sitting posture. The law takes the gang members back to town, leaving The Lone Ranger in good hands to heal from his wounds.

About the Author

Martin Grams Jr. is the author and co-author of more than 40 books including one about THE GREEN HORNET, and is co-author of the up-coming THE LONE RANGER: THE EARLY YEARS, 1933-1937.

Please review Martin's author page: click here!

Get involved with Martin's latest book, Renfrew of the Mounted:

Please post a comment below!

Sunday, November 22, 2020

The Origin of Silver, Part 1

By Martin Grams 

The story of how The Lone Ranger acquired the white stallion was told more than once on the radio program, each with slight variations. Authors, with constantly evolving and improving artistic skill, often finds means of improvement when looking back on their own work. So it comes as no surprise that Fran Striker tweaked the origin of Silver with each re-telling. How the stallion came to battle a buffalo in Wild Horse Valley was overlooked, however, when J. Bryan III recounted a variation told to him through George W. Trendle, in the October 14, 1939 issue of the Saturday Evening Post.

“Their first objection was that the hero had no mystery and little romance. Why not make him a sort of benevolent outlaw and give him a mask? Fine! Then it was suggested that he needed something distinctive as an identification. How about a super horse, possibly a white Arabian? Trendle, a horseman himself, said, ‘No, Arabians are too small. But the white horse is a good idea – he’ll stand out at night as well as by day.’ A second conference was called a week later. ‘Let’s run over our stuff,’ Trendle said. ‘Well, this guy is decent, athletic, and ‘up on the bit,’ you know; alert and enterprising. Maybe he has been unjustly banished and is waiting to come into his own again. Anyhow, he goes around righting wrongs against tremendous odds and then disappearing, immediately afterwards. I see him as a sort of lone operator. He could even be a former Texas Ranger.’ ‘That’s his name,’ someone interrupted. ‘The Lone Ranger. It’s got everything!’ Now Trendle and his staff stood back and looked at their creature. The raw material was there. All it needed was someone to blow the breath of life into it.”

Verified that Trendle himself was the primary source for Bryan’s Post article, much of the information today, through historic hindsight, has since been verified as a stretch of the truth. The above story as told from the mouth of George W. Trendle will conflict with everything that follows but is included for the sole purpose of verifying the authors’ attempt to explore all sources of information. 

The original incarnation of Silver began in 1929-1930 when the initial incarnation of a masked man rode to the rescue in a Covered Wagon Days radio script, riding a horse named “Whitey,” obviously referring to the horse’s color. Throughout the 20 years of radio legend and lore, rarely was a horse every referred to as white in color except for those of The Lone Ranger and Tonto. At least nine episodes prior to 1938 featured someone riding a horse named “Blackie,” also referring to the color of the steed. On the broadcast of July 31, 1935, Gail’s horse is named Midnight. At least four episodes referred to other horses as “chestnut” in color. On the broadcast of December 29, 1933, Potluck Simms has a horse named “Paint.” Rarely was any horse referred to by color with the exception of someone falsely masquerading as The Lone Ranger and on those particular episodes it was made obvious that all other horses in the region were any color other than white.


As conceived and should be properly credited to Fran Striker (and verified in the January 21, 1933 letter from Jewell to Striker), Silver was shod with silver shoes when the program premiered over WXYZ and was obviously a trick horse when performing a stunt commanded by a whistle. (It should be noted that the name “Silver” never appears in the first draft of the first radio script, only the second.) For the fourth broadcast, February 7, 1933, Silver was trained to grab a man’s handgun from behind when The Lone Ranger whistles. For episode eleven, February 23, Silver knocks a bully off his horse when commanded. For the broadcast of April 15, 1933, The Lone Ranger whistles for Silver to escort another horse, Diablo, to the window where the masked man and a woman chat. For the broadcast of May 30, 1933, Silver was used as a bloodhound to expose a killer who was wearing the victim’s hat and shirt. Silver was also used as a bloodhound to find the hidden camp of outlaws for the broadcast of March 30, 1934. For the broadcast of August 22, 1933, The Lone Ranger calls on Silver to muscle Bronson, for which the horse races into the building and hurts Bronson’s arm until the crook asks The Lone Ranger to call off the horse. On the broadcast of December 1, 1933, Silver kicks with his silver shod hooves to open a jail door on command. *


Silver was referred to as “the wonder horse,” instead of “the great white horse, Silver,” repeatedly from September 7, 1933 to April 16, 1934. For the broadcast of October 17, 1933, Silver carried a double load with both Jim and The Lone Ranger which “means nothing to those tremendous legs, and the ground flies beneath his silver shod hoofs.” For a number of episodes during the Radlin Gang story arc of January and February 1934, Silver was briefly referred to as “the milk white wonder horse.” For the broadcast of June 11, 1934, Silver was described as being “pure white,” and having “tremendous strength,” and “rippling leg muscles.”


On many occasions (including May 16 and May 25, 1934, and August 23, 1945) Silver gave a distant whinny to alert the sleeping Lone Ranger and Tonto of an intruder coming near camp. In the opening scene of September 23, 1935, Silver is not tied to the hitch rack. When someone in the streets asks a disguised Lone Ranger why the horse is not tied, The Lone Ranger remarks, “It isn’t necessary. He will remain there until I come out.” During the broadcast of December 25, 1935, The Lone Ranger is placed under arrest and locked in a bunkhouse. Time and again the strong legs of the great white stallion drove the silver shod hooves against the stout oak door of The Lone Ranger’s prison, breaking the masked man free to race to the rescue. On January 1, 1936, The Lone Ranger asks Silver to chew through the ropes so he can race out and prevent a murder. On the broadcast of February 14, 1936, The Lone Ranger rides into the camp of the U.S. Cavalry to alert the Captain of the drug smugglers in the area only to be placed under arrest, accused of being one of the smugglers. Seeing there was no escape for his master, Silver fled away from the camp and thundered onward alone to fetch Tonto. 

The great horse Silver never had a problem riding into peril with The Lone Ranger in command. On the broadcast of May 14, 1934, The Lone Ranger rode into the sheriff’s office on top of Silver! On May 25, 1934, The Lone Ranger and Silver race into a burning hotel to save anyone who might be trapped inside. For the broadcast of February 26, 1936, Silver proved to be the hero in a blazing forest fire. 

Several weeks after Caleb Ogden and his daughter, Nancy, broke up their home in the town of Gonzales and headed to the north side of the ravine, Caleb finished his new log house. Nancy did her best to make the place comfortable, not for love of her father, but simply to make it easier to bear living there in almost complete isolation. The new residence could be reached only by going around the ravine, a distance of miles and a full days’ travel and part of a night. The Lone Ranger and Tonto ride into town to encourage the residents to build a bridge over the ravine to ensure quick passage to the other side, essential for transportation as man progresses west. 

When a forest fire breaks out, the flames have the Ogdens hemmed in. The roaring flames leapt to the sky on all sides of the small clearing where Caleb’s house stood. There was no escape, only a choice of death by fire, or a plunge to a quicker death over the ravine. The Lone Ranger, Tonto and Buck Alden, Nancy’s boyfriend, race to the scene and use axes to chop down trees so they fall across the ravine. In a daring and swift move, The Lone Ranger urges Silver to charge and jump over the ravine, 25 feet wide, a jump that would not have been believed by anyone who was not there to witness. Like madmen, Buck and Tonto chopped at the tree while the masked man administered first aid to the injured Ogden. Using rope to furnish a hand grip, Buck crosses the ravine on the tree to rescue Nancy, then her injured father, before the masked man raced Silver back to safety, a jump that was talked about in Gonzales for many years to come. Days later, healed and fully recovered, Caleb Ogden agrees to allow his daughter to marry the man who saved their lives.

On the broadcast of May 30, 1933, Tonto displayed the ability to speak horse language, though this was the only episode Tonto proved this skillset.


TONTO: Him kill feller on prairie.

RANGER: How are you so sure of that?

TONTO: Silver, him whisper to Tonto.

RANGER: (LAUGH) You funny old fellow you, Tonto. You never said you understood horse talk.

TONTO: Hoss, him know plenty.  Him see dead man.  You show dead man to Silver.  Silver him look close.  Him good hoss.  Him whisper to Tonto.

RANGER: Alright Tonto.  I’ll take your word for it.  


Despite a horse whose legendary skills rivaled those of trick horses in motion-pictures, fans today are equally fascinated by the two origins conceived by Fran Striker, the first almost unheard of except through legend until documented in this book.

The first staging of Silver’s origin can be found in the radio script broadcast on the evening of February 6, 1935. Oil was found in Oklahoma. Vast fortunes were made in the wells that were being sunk. Ranch owners forgot their cattle, farmers forgot their crops, and everyone turned their attention to the new wealth that was like an ocean of liquid gold below the surface of the land. An easterner named Art Benson arrives in town and wants an oil lease on the land owned by Martin Gregg, nicknamed Stonewall, who breeds the finest horses in the county. Stonewall was rightly nicknamed; a stubborn and headstrong individual who would not sell or lease his property. Benson, hoping to return with assurance that he tried his best to buy or lease, asks Stonewall to sign a statement attesting such but Benson wrote the statement in a tricky manner so the crafty Easterner had only to tear off a line at the top of the paper and what he had left in his hand was a lease signed by Gregg and witnessed by his wife. Tonto, acting as a guide for Benson to Stonewall’s house, reported back to The Lone Ranger who raced out to the departing stagecoach to rob Benson of the contract and the $10,000 cash payment. Returning to Stonewall’s ranch, the masked man explains the ruse and hands over the payment, detailing how Benson was authorized to pay as much as $50,000 – and now Stonewall gets to choose from two options in his favor: accept an additional $40,000 and allow the drilling or agree to hand over the crooked contract that will get Benson into trouble, but keep the cash.


STONEWALL: Yew heard tell o’ this yere Lone Ranger?




STONEWALL: An’ yuh heard tell of the hoss he rides, named Silver?




STONEWALL: Wal, I haint sayin’ for sartain shore… now mind yuh, I can’t prove a durn thing, an’ I wouldn’t try tuh prove a durn thing… but once they was a hoss that was clean white all over, not a smudge o’ color on him.




STONEWALL: A wild un, thet never c’d o’ bin broke. He was hyar fer only a short time afore he lit out an’ warn’t never seen ag’in.


MATILDA: I remember the time, yuh was so mad at losin’ the hoss yuh wouldn’t eat for a week! Jest mopin’.


STONEWALL: Yere, an’ yuh remember I follered his track an’ come tuh thet clearin’ tuh the south… an’ thar I sees a snow white mare, an’ a snow white colt less’n a week old.


MATILDA: Yuh said somethin’ erbout it.


STONEWALL: I fetched the mare an’ colt hyar an’ thet colt was like somethin’ I never seen before. He seemed tuh hev more brains than some men… an’ as soon as he was old enough tuh travel, both him an’ his maw lit out an’ warn’t seen no more, an’ I said at the time thet I bet they never was a colt botn thet was muscled fer his age as thet un or one thet had the brains thet un had. An’ Matildy, I got an idea thet tharcolt is Silver!


MATILDA: The Lone Ranger’s hoss?


STONEWALL: Thet’s right! An’ that’s why I don’t aim tuh hev no oil drillin’ on this yere outfit! Eff’n the Box Gee was the home o’ Silver, then it stays as it is. I’ll shoot the man that changes it!


Later, after The Lone Ranger arrives on the ranch and saves Stonewall from a scam…


 Goodbye, Stonewall! Come on, Silver!


SOUND: Hoofs start and fade


STONEWALL: Matildy… that… that hoss had black on’t!


MATILDA: I see it did.


STONEWALL: The… the young colt… I had… was pure white!


MATILDA: So yuh allus said!


STONEWALL: I… I reckon thet all this time… I must o’ bin mistaken. Cussed fool I was! Blame fool!


ANNOUNCER: But before we leave The Lone Ranger and Tonto… and Silver, let us join the three characters beside a small stream, where Tonto stands knee deep beside the great horse.


SOUND: Water


TONTO: Tonto… glad see black wash off Silver.


RANGER: We have destroyed the only clue of the origin of Silver, Tonto…


TONTO: Mebbe makum Gregg feel bad.


RANGER: Perhaps… for a time, but he must expand, he must grow with the west.


TONTO: Ugh! You all time know best. There… Silver white again now!


RANGER: Then up you come old Kemo sabe… upppp


TONTO: (GRUNT) Me ready.

Editor's Note: Be sure to tune in next week whenwe'll feature part 2 of, "The Origin of Silver!"


Martin Grams Jr. is the author and co-author of more than 40 books including one about THE GREEN HORNET, and is co-author of the up-coming THE LONE RANGER: THE EARLY YEARS, 1933-1937.

Please review Martin's author page: click here!

Get involved with Martin's latest book, Renfrew of the Mounted:

Be sure to visit
on Facebook!

   Please post a comment below!   

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Hang On to Your Hat! The Thrilling Era of the Western Serial

By Christopher Robinson

Before cowboys ruled the boob tube, a typical western feature invariably began and concluded in one or two hours time, satisfying the theatre-goers’ appetites and sending its heroes and heroines on their way.

An exception to that rule came in the form of an episodic action or suspense serial, which preceded the main feature and was usually shown in twelve weekly installments. The first chapter introduced a setting, the story and its characters. Subsequent chapters presented 15-minute story developments capped by tense climaxes or “cliffhangers” that enticed fans to return to the hosting theatre the following week, regardless of the main feature’s appeal or merits.

Like other cliffhanger serials, these westerns often featured sinister or mysterious figures whose identities and motives were to be revealed as the story unraveled twists and turns and presented its subplots with multiple tragedies and victories.

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The vast duration of these stories allowed for the employment of endless story elements but their economic limitations dictated minimal sets, locations, actors, extras and special effects. Recycled stunt footage courtesy of previously shot productions would invariably be cut into the finished products for further enhancement.

As budgetary considerations were of primary consideration to their producers, westerns became one of the most common serials churned out, owing to their popularity and affordability. Many higher-paid silent-era cowboys lost some box office value in studios’ acquisition of western stars for cliffhangers.

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After the advent of sound, western serials attained a ‘golden age’ of their own and remained a continual presence until the television age had taken over and replaced the serials’ niche as the 1950s arrived.

While many western serials are thought lost or rarely screened, some have achieved a certain degree of renown and their prints survive intact on video and television releases. Many others were edited down and released in condensed versions as feature westerns to be sold later to exhibitors and networks. In any form, they represent a significant piece of western film lore and an often forgotten example of how exciting and compelling western stories were told and appreciated in their heyday.

Nearly all silent western serials are believed to be lost films. The earliest true example was probably 1916’s Liberty, involving a kidnapped heiress played by “Dare-Devil Girl of the Movies” Marie Walcamp.

The Masked Rider (1919) was the first serial to exploit the ‘masked horseman’ concept. Previously believed lost, most chapters currently survive. Incidentally, those episodes feature the earliest surviving film performance of movie legend Boris Karloff.

By contrast, Ruth of the Rockies (1920) has only two chapters of its story to have survived. Prior to the highly successful The Indians Are Coming starring Tim McCoy, many thought the introduction of sound would send serials quietly into the sunset. Based on a novel by (the) Buffalo Bill, the first all-talking serial proved them wrong.

The serial boom especially dominated silver screens from the mid-1930s to the mid-Forties, fastidiously producing cliffhangers with the wild exploits of celebrated cowboys like Allan Lane, Buck Jones, Tom Tyler, Tom Mix, Dick Foran, Wild Bill Elliott, Harry Carey, Ken Maynard, Rex Lease, Bob Livingston, Johnny Mack Brown, Lon Chaney Jr. and (let’s not forget) Rin Tin Tin.

Many of the final western serials produced in the early Fifties were Zorro or Lone Ranger cliffhangers (or clones thereof). Curiously, masked men were a particularly hot property at the time. Recycled footage from previous serials was also used extensively in many of those latter-era productions.

So go ahead and indulge in the edge-of-your-seat perils of your favorite cowboy hero. Just remember, when he’s facing that oncoming train, avalanche or blast of dynamite, that you needn’t worry- the creative team will find a way out for him. It’s the rule and benchmark, after all, of that great magnum opus of the B-western, the cowboy serial!

About the Author

Western Magazine Digest Senior Editor Christopher Robinson is a writer, filmmaker and musician in New Jersey who has contributed to several magazines and websites.

Robinson also worked as a cameraman, videographer, cable access TV host, teacher and producer. He scripted and produced commercial videos as well as cable television programs for local consumption.

For more info about Christopher, click here.

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Sunday, November 1, 2020

Movie Reviews, Looking for Writers, WMD Puzzles, and Martin Grams' Upcoming Book

Greetings, all you Cowboys, American Indians, Cowgirls, Cowpokes, and Lawmen! You know who you are! This is an 'Inbetween Issue' of Western Magazine Digest and we have several interesting things to chat about.

1. WMD's Looking for Writers
You know, it's not easy to find quality writers in the Western Genre. They're not easy to find as they appear to be a dying breed. For this reason, we're willing to work with anyone who enjoys writing in this historic venue. If that's you, or if you know someone who might be interested in joining the WMD Team of writers, send us an email at: Put "Interested in Writing" in the Subject line and we'll go from there. I look forward to hearing from you!

2. Announcing WMD Western Movie Reviews
In our inbetween issues we'll provide an assortment of entertaining things, one of which is a new Movie Review department. Senior Editor, Christopher Robinson, leads the charge having already contributed one movie review some months ago. Without further ado, check it out: Click Here!

3. Announcing WMD's new 'Western Puzzle Section'
For those who hadn't noticed, WMD has it's own puzzle page where you'll be treated to any contrivance we can come up with. Senior Editor Christopher Robinson alreadyu treated WMD readers to a puzzle concerning famous Western actors and their horses. This week, WMD writer and co-founder Gary Miller offers one to puzzle you (if it were possible)! Check it out: Click Here!

4. Martin Grams' New Book

WMD Martin Grams has a new book coming out soon. Here's the skinny:

BOOK TITLE: The Lone Ranger: The Early Years, 1933 to 1937

AUTHORS: Terry Salomonson and Martin Grams, Jr.

DETAILS: Numerous books have been written about The Lone Ranger but none have created such a buzz in recent years than the announcement from Terry Salomonson and Martin Grams, Jr. of their latest collaboration, THE LONE RANGER: The Early Years, 1933 to 1937. Over four decades of accumulative research went into the production of this 800-page book, documenting the first five years of the long-running radio program. It was not until February 1938 that producer George W. Trendle commissioned recording on a regular basis. As a result, very little has been documented of the first five years. The true facts and details of the origin, including scans of archival documents will be presented for the first time. The book also includes plot summaries for almost all 800 radio broadcasts pre-dating February 1938, filling in a void most fans of THE LONE RANGER have been longing for.

Salomonson and Grams are co-authors of THE GREEN HORNET: A History of Radio, Motion Pictures, Comics and Television, published ten years ago, documenting the history of another popular franchise to originate from the Detroit radio station of WXYZ. Following publication, fans naturally assumed the authors would pull off the same comprehensive detail level for Trendle's other properties, THE LONE RANGER and SERGEANT PRESTON OF THE YUKON. The authors kept mum as they were presently reviewing and digitizing the last of 100,000+ telegrams, contracts, inter-office memos, cancelled checks, letters, correspondence, photographs, and other archival documents, and tracking down the last of the family relatives of radio actors, writers and directors to acquire information not found in other LONE RANGER reference books.

As the title suggests, three additional books are being completed in chronological order. THE LONE RANGER: The Early Years, 1933 to 1937, will be the first of the four. A Kickstarter will be launched soon to provide fans with an exclusive hardcover edition that will not be available elsewhere, as well as the standard paperback edition, along with two CDs of rare LONE RANGER recordings free with book pledges. Details to be provided soon.

Martin Grams,  WMD Writer

Martin Grams Jr. is the author and co-author of numerous books about old-time radio and retro television.

Winner of numerous awards in the Best Book categories, author of more than 100 magazine articles and co-author of the up-coming THE LONE RANGER: THE EARLY YEARS, 1933-1937.

To connect with Martin Grams via email: Click Here!

Some additional resources:

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