Clayton Moore as the Lone Ranger
|First appearance||WXYZ (January 30 or 31, 1933)|
|Created by||Fran Striker or George W. Trendle|
|Alter ego||Ranger Reid|
|Team affiliations||Texas Rangers|
Expert marksman |
Above-average athlete, horseman, hand-to-hand combatant, and master of disguise
The Lone Ranger is a fictional masked former Texas Ranger who fought outlaws in the American Old West with his Native American friend, Tonto. The character has been called an enduring icon of American culture.
He first appeared in 1933 in a radio show conceived either by WXYZ (Detroit) radio station owner George W. Trendle, or by Fran Striker, the show's writer. The character was originally believed to be inspired by Texas Ranger Captain John R. Hughes, to whom the book The Lone Star Ranger by Zane Grey was dedicated in 1915. Another possible historical inspiration is Bass Reeves, the first black deputy U.S. marshal west of the Mississippi River. Other inspirations were Zorro and Robin Hood. The radio series proved to be a hit and spawned a series of books (largely written by Striker), an equally popular television show that ran from 1949 to 1957, comic books, and several movies. The title character was played on the radio show by George Seaton, Earle Graser, and Brace Beemer. Clayton Moore acted the Lone Ranger on television, although during a contract dispute, Moore was replaced temporarily by John Hart, who wore a different style of mask. On the radio, Tonto was played by, among others, John Todd and Roland Parker; and in the television series, by Jay Silverheels, who was a Mohawk from the Six Nations Indian Reserve in Ontario, Canada.
The Lone Ranger was named so because the character is the only survivor of a group of six Texas Rangers, rather than because he works alone (as he is usually accompanied by Tonto). While details differ, the basic story of the origin of the Lone Ranger is the same in most versions of the franchise. A posse of six members of the Texas Ranger Division pursuing a band of outlaws led by Bartholomew "Butch" Cavendish is betrayed by a civilian guide named Collins and is ambushed in a canyon named Bryant's Gap. Later, an Indian named Tonto stumbles onto the scene and discovers one ranger is barely alive, and he nurses the man back to health. In some versions, Tonto recognizes the lone survivor as the man who saved his life when they both were children. According to the television series, when Tonto left the Reid place with a horse given him by the boy Reid, he gave Reid a ring and the name Kemo Sabe, which he said means "trusty scout". Among the Rangers killed was the survivor's older brother, Daniel Reid, who was a captain in the Texas Rangers and the leader of the ambushed group. To conceal his identity and honor his fallen brother, Reid fashions a black domino mask from the material of his brother's vest. To aid in the deception, Tonto digs a sixth grave and places at its head a cross bearing Reid's name so that Cavendish and his gang would believe that all of the Rangers had been killed.
In many versions Reid continues fighting for justice as The Lone Ranger even after the Cavendish gang is captured.
The Lone Ranger
As generally depicted, the Lone Ranger conducts himself by a strict moral code based on that put in place by Striker at the inception of the character. Actors Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels both took their positions as role models to children very seriously and tried their best to live by this creed. It read:
- That to have a friend, a man must be one.
- That all men are created equal and that everyone has within himself the power to make this a better world.
- That God put the firewood there, but that every man must gather and light it himself.
- In being prepared physically, mentally, and morally to fight when necessary for what is right.
- That a man should make the most of what equipment he has.
- That 'this government of the people, by the people, and for the people' shall live always.
- That men should live by the rule of what is best for the greatest number.
- That sooner or later...somewhere...somehow...we must settle with the world and make payment for what we have taken.
- That all things change but truth, and that truth alone, lives on forever.
- In my Creator, my country, my fellow man.
- The Lone Ranger was never seen without his mask or some sort of disguise.
- He was never captured or held for any length of time by lawmen, avoiding his being unmasked.
- He always used perfect grammar and precise speech devoid of slang and colloquialisms.
- Whenever he was forced to use guns, he never shot to kill, but instead tried to disarm his opponent as painlessly as possible.
- He was never put in a hopeless situation; e.g., he was never seen escaping from a barrage of gunfire merely by fleeing toward the horizon.
- He rarely referred to himself as the Lone Ranger. If someone's suspicion were aroused, the Lone Ranger would present one of his silver bullets to confirm his identity; but many times someone else would attest on his behalf. The origin of this name was, following the Bryant's Gap ambush, Tonto observed him to be the only ranger left—the "lone ranger"; Tonto's choice of words inspired him to call himself "The Lone Ranger".
- Even though The Lone Ranger offered his aid to individuals or small groups facing powerful adversaries, the ultimate objective of his story always implied that their benefit was only a by-product of the development of the West or the country.
- Adversaries were rarely other than American, to avoid criticism from minority groups. There were some exceptions to this rule. He sometimes battled foreign agents, though their nation of origin was generally not named. An exception was his having helped the Mexican Benito Juárez against French troops of Emperor Maximilian, as occurred in the radio episodes "Supplies for Juarez" (18 September 1939), "Hunted by Legionnaires" (20 September 1939) and "Lafitte's Reinforcements" (22 September 1939).
- The names of unsympathetic characters were carefully chosen so that they never consisted of two names if it could be avoided. More often than not, a single nickname was selected.
- The Lone Ranger never drank or smoked; and saloon scenes were usually shown as cafes, with waiters and food instead of bartenders and liquor.
- Criminals were never shown in enviable positions of wealth or power, and they were never successful or glamorous.
The Lone Ranger's first name
Although the Lone Ranger's last name in the radio shows was given as Reid, his first name was never specified in any of the radio or television shows. Various radio reference books, beginning with Radio's Golden Age (Eastern Valley Press, 1966), give the Lone Ranger's first name as John. Some cite the 20th anniversary radio program in 1953 as the source of the name, but the Lone Ranger's first name is never mentioned in that episode.
In the final chapter of the 1938 Republic The Lone Ranger movie serial, he is revealed to be Texas Ranger Allen King. In the second serial, The Lone Ranger Rides Again, he identifies himself as "Bill Andrews". However, this name is probably an alias.
The Lone Ranger's first name is also thought not to have been mentioned in contemporary Lone Ranger newspaper comics, comic books, and tie-in premiums, though some have stated that the name John Reid was used in an illustration of the grave marker made by Tonto which appeared in either a comic book version of the character's origin story or in a children's record set.
The name John Reid is used in a scene in the 1981 film The Legend of the Lone Ranger, in which the surviving Reid digs an extra grave for himself. The Lone Ranger is also John Reid in Dynamite Entertainment's licensed Lone Ranger comic book series that began in 2006 and in the 2013 Disney film The Lone Ranger.
The name "Luke Hartman" was used in the 2003 TV-movie/unsold series pilot. This too is probably an alias.
The character made his initial appearance in the 11th episode of the radio show. Fran Striker told his son that Tonto was added so the Lone Ranger would have someone to talk to. He was named by James Jewell, who also came up with the term "Kemosabe" based on the name of a summer camp owned by his father-in-law in upstate Michigan. In the local Native American language, "Tonto" meant "wild one."
The character spoke in broken English that emphasized Tonto had learned it as a second language.
Dan Reid Jr.
The name of Captain Reid's son, the Lone Ranger's nephew, a character introduced in the radio series in 1942, who became a juvenile sidekick to the Masked Man, is Dan Reid. When Trendle and Striker later created The Green Hornet in 1936, they made this Dan Reid the father of Britt Reid, alias the Green Hornet, thereby making the Lone Ranger the Green Hornet's great-uncle. Throughout The Lone Ranger radio series, Dan was played by Ernest Winstanley, Bob Martin, Clarence Weitzel, James Lipton and Dick Beals.
The Lone Ranger's nephew made his first appearance in "Heading North" (December 14, 1942) under the name "Dan Frisby", the grandson of Grandma Frisby. The two lived in an area described as "the high border country of the northwest" near the town of Martinsville close to the Canada–US border. This and the following four episodes ("Design for Murder", December 16, 1942; "Rope's End", December 18, 1942; "Law of the Apex", December 21, 1942; and "Dan's Strange Behavior", December 23, 1942) centred on a plot to steal the valuable Martin Copper Mine and Dan's being fooled by a Lone Ranger impostor into helping him steal it. The Lone Ranger and the Mounties foil the plot and capture the impostor and his gang.
In the final episode of the arc, "A Nephew is Found" (December 25, 1942), the dying Grandma Frisby reveals to The Lone Ranger Dan's true identity and how he came to be with her. Fifteen years previously, Grandma Frisby had been part of a wagon train travelling to Fort Laramie. Also on that wagon train had been Linda Reid, wife of Texas Ranger Captain Dan Reid, and her six-month-old son Dan Jr., who were travelling from their home in Virginia to join her husband. Before the wagon train could reach Fort Laramie, Indians attacked it and Linda Reid was among those killed. Grandma Frisby took charge and care of Dan Jr., but upon reaching Fort Laramie found two messages waiting: one that Captain Reid (voiced in this story by Al Hodge) had been killed in an ambush at Bryant's Gap and the other that her own husband had been killed in an explosion. Taking Dan and certain items concerning his identity (including a small gold locket containing a picture of Dan's parents and a picture of Captain Reid's brother), Grandma Frisby travelled to Martinsville and raised Dan as her grandson.
On hearing this story, The Lone Ranger reveals his true identity and his own story to Grandma Frisby and promises that he will care for Dan like his own son. Before Grandma Frisby passes away, The Lone Ranger removes his mask and lets her see his face. Her last words are "Ride on, Lone Ranger ... ride on forever ... with Danny at your side." The Lone Ranger takes the grieving Dan outside the cabin, gives him the locket and reveals their true relationship. Dan Reid Jr. would go on to be a recurring character throughout the remainder of the series, riding with The Lone Ranger and Tonto on his own horse Victor.
Eventually, Dan Reid Jr. would be sent East to gain an education, making infrequent appearances on the series whenever Fran Striker wanted to remind the audience of the family connection, and would later become part of The Green Hornet radio series, first appearing on October 22, 1936, establishing the connection between The Lone Ranger and The Green Hornet in the episode "Too Hot to Handle" (November 11, 1947) and being played throughout the series by John Todd, who played "Tonto" on The Lone Ranger radio series.
According to the episode "The Legend of Silver" (September 30, 1938), before acquiring Silver, the Lone Ranger rode a chestnut mare called Dusty. The Lone Ranger saves Silver's life from an enraged buffalo and, in gratitude, Silver chooses to give up his wild life to carry him.
The origin of Tonto's horse, Scout, is less clear. For a long time, Tonto rides a white horse called White Feller. In "Four Day Ride" (August 5, 1938), Tonto is given a paint horse by his friend Chief Thundercloud, who then takes White Feller. Tonto rides this horse and refers to him simply as "Paint Horse" for several episodes. The horse is finally named Scout in "Border Dope Smuggling" (September 2, 1938). In another episode, however, the Lone Ranger, in a surge of conscience, releases Silver back to the wild. The episode ends with Silver returning, bringing along a companion who becomes Tonto's horse Scout.
In an echo of the Lone Ranger's line, Tonto frequently says, "Git-um up, Scout!" (The phrase became so well embedded in the Lone Ranger mythos that International Harvester used it as an advertising line to promote their Scout utility vehicle in the 1970s.) In the Format Films animated cartoon which ran from 1966 to 1968, Tonto also had an eagle he called Taka, and installments that focused exclusively on him or had him team up with the Lone Ranger ended with his saying, "Fly, Taka! On, Scout!" (Those where he teamed with the Lone Ranger had the Ranger following this up with the customary "Hi-yo, Silver! Away!")
Original radio series
The first of 2,956 radio episodes of The Lone Ranger premiered on WXYZ, a radio station serving Detroit, Michigan, on January 30, 1933 or January 31, 1933. As Dunning writes in On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio:
There may have been a few late-night on-air shakedown shows prior to the official January 31, 1933 premiere date. Lacking concrete evidence, [Lone Ranger authority Terry] Salomonson is inclined to doubt it. "There is nothing in any of the Detroit papers to indicate this, but that in itself doesn't mean much. The papers didn't even list the show in their radio logs at first."
In any case, the show was an immediate success. Though it was aimed at children, adults made up at least half the audience. It became so popular, it was picked up by the Mutual Broadcasting System and on May 2, 1942, by NBC's Blue Network, which in time became ABC.
An announcer introduced each episode with the following, which was sometimes changed to reflect the storyline of the episode:
In the early days of the western United States, a masked man and an Indian rode the plains, searching for truth and justice. Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear, when from out of the past come the thundering hoofbeats of the great horse Silver! The Lone Ranger rides again!
By the time it was on ABC at 7:30 pm Eastern Time, the introduction, voiced by Fred Foy, had become "Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear", followed by, "From out of the west with the speed of light and a hearty hi-yo Silver." The intro was later changed to:
A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty Hi-Yo Silver! The Lone Ranger! ... With his faithful Indian companion Tonto, the daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains led the fight for law and order in the early western United States! Nowhere in the pages of history can one find a greater champion of justice! Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear! From out of the past come the thundering hoofbeats of the great horse Silver! The Lone Ranger rides again!
Followed by Brace Beemer's voice: "Come on, Silver! Let's go, big fellow! Hi-yo Silver! Away!"
The Lone Ranger was played by several actors:
- John L. Barrett, on test broadcasts on WEBR in January 1933;
- George Seaton (under the name George Stenius) (January 31–May 9, 1933);
- Series director James Jewell, for one episode;
- An actor known only by the pseudonym "Jack Deeds", for one episode;
- Earle Graser (May 16, 1933 – April 7, 1941). On April 8, Graser died in a car accident; and, for five episodes, the Lone Ranger was unable to speak beyond a whisper, with Tonto carrying the action. In addition, six episodes broadcast in August 1938 did not include the Lone Ranger's voice other than an occasional "Hi-Yo Silver!" in the background. In those episodes, Tonto carried the dialog;
- Brace Beemer (April 18, 1941 to the end), who had been the show's deep-voiced announcer for several years;
- Fred Foy (March 29, 1954), also an announcer on the show, took over the role for one broadcast when Beemer had laryngitis.
Tonto was played throughout the run by actor John Todd (although there were a few isolated occasions when he was replaced by Roland Parker, better known as Kato for much of the run of sister series The Green Hornet). Other supporting players were selected from Detroit area actors and studio staff. These included Jay Michael (who also played the lead on Challenge of the Yukon, a.k.a. Sgt. Preston of the Yukon), Bill Saunders (as various villains, including Butch Cavendish), Paul Hughes (as the Ranger's friend Thunder Martin and as various army colonels and badmen), future movie star John Hodiak, Janka Fasciszewska (under the name Jane Fae), and Rube and Liz Weiss (a married couple, both actors in several radio and television programs in Detroit, Rube usually taking on villain roles on the "Ranger", and Liz playing damsels in distress). The part of nephew Dan Reid was played by various child actors, including Bob Martin, James Lipton and Dick Beals.
The theme music was primarily taken from the "March of the Swiss Soldiers" finale of Gioachino Rossini's William Tell Overture, now inseparably associated with the series. The theme was conducted by Daniel Pérez Castañeda, with the softer parts excerpted from Die Moldau, composed by Bedřich Smetana.
Many other classical selections were used as incidental music, including Wagner's Flying Dutchman Overture), Bizet's Symphony in C, Mendelssohn's Fingal's Cave Overture, Emil von Řezníček's Donna Diana Overture, Liszt's Les préludes, Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture and music by Schubert. Classical music was originally used because it was in the public domain, thus allowing production costs to be kept low while providing a wide range of music as needed without the cost of a composer. Interestingly, the incidental music from Liszt's Les Preludes was being used in the 1940s by Germany's Nazi propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, as a theme in German weekly news announcements, particularly to dramatize German victories in WWII.
In the late 1930s, Trendle acquired the rights to use incidental music from Republic Pictures motion picture serials as part of a deal for Republic to produce a serial based (loosely) on the Lone Ranger. This music was then modified by NBC radio arranger Ben Bonnell and recorded in Mexico to avoid American union rules. This music was used in both the radio and later television shows.
The Green Hornet
The radio series inspired a spinoff called The Green Hornet, which depicts the son of the Lone Ranger's nephew Dan, Britt Reid, originally played by Al Hodge, who in contemporary times fights crime with a similar secret identity and a sidekick, Kato. In the Green Hornet comic book series published by NOW Comics, the Lone Ranger makes a cameo appearance by being in a portrait in the Reid home. Contrary to most visual media depictions, and acknowledged by developer/original scripter Ron Fortier to be the result of legal complications, his mask covers all of his face, as it did in the two serials from Republic Pictures (see below). However, rights to The Lone Ranger and The Green Hornet have been acquired by separate owners and the familial link has been ignored in the Western character's various incarnations. The Lone Ranger – Green Hornet connection is part of Philip José Farmer's Wold Newton Universe, which connects disparate fictional characters.
Republic Pictures released two serials starring the Lone Ranger. The first, released in 1938, utilized several actors playing different men portraying the masked hero, with the true Lone Ranger unknown to the audience until the conclusion; the character played by Lee Powell is ultimately revealed to be the Lone Ranger. The second serial, The Lone Ranger Rides Again, was released in 1939 and starred Robert Livingston. Tonto was played in both by Victor Daniels, billed as Chief Thundercloud.
The Lone Ranger was a TV show that aired for eight seasons, from 1949 to 1957, and starred Clayton Moore as the Lone Ranger and Jay Silverheels as Tonto. Only five of the eight seasons had new episodes. It was the ABC television network's first big hit of the early 1950s. Moore's tenure as the Ranger is probably the best-known treatment of the franchise. Moore was replaced in the third season by John Hart, but he returned for the final two seasons. The fifth and final season was the only one shot in color. A total of 221 episodes were made.
Hi-Yo Silver!, Kemo Sabe, and other cultural tropes
At the beginning of each episode, the magnificent white stallion, Silver, would rear up with the Lone Ranger on his back, then they would dash off, the Ranger encouragingly shouting, "Hi-Yo, Silver!" Tonto could occasionally be heard to urge on his mount by calling out, "Get 'em up, Scout!" At the end of each episode, mission completed, one of the characters would always ask the sheriff or other authority, "Who was that masked man?" When it was explained, "Oh, he's the Lone Ranger!", the Ranger and Tonto would be seen galloping off with the cry, "Hi-Yo, Silver! Away!" catching the attention of one of the townspeople crossing the street.
Tonto usually referred to the Lone Ranger as "Kemo sabe", described as meaning either "faithful friend," or "trusty scout". It is more likely the word derives from the Anishnaabe language. Gimoozaabi is said to mean "he looks out in secret." These catchphrases, the Ranger's trademark silver bullets, and the theme music from the William Tell Overture have become tropes of popular culture.
After the series ended, Moore continued to make public appearances as the Lone Ranger. In 1979, Jack Wrather, then owner of the rights to the character, obtained a restraining order against Moore, enjoining Moore from appearing in public in his mask. The actor began wearing oversize wraparound Foster Grant sunglasses, as a substitute for the mask. Moore later won a countersuit, allowing him to resume his costume.
The Lone Ranger (1956)
The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold (1958)
The Return of the Lone Ranger (1961)
The Legend of the Lone Ranger (1981)
At the time of the 1981 release of the film The Legend of the Lone Ranger, the company owning the rights to the character, Wrather Corp., filed a lawsuit and obtained a court injunction to prevent Clayton Moore from appearing as the Lone Ranger, and then gave a cameo to his TV replacement, John Hart. The film itself was a critical and commercial failure. It starred Klinton Spilsbury in his only motion picture appearance. His lines were overdubbed by James Keach. The part of Tonto was played by Michael Horse, a Native American of Yaqui, Mescalero Apache, Zuni, and Latino descent.
Moore, who never appeared publicly without his mask, was enjoined in the lawsuit from wearing it and, in protest, he began wearing oversized sunglasses that were the approximate size and shape of the mask. In a sequence in the movie, John Reid, a newly graduated attorney, is travelling west in a stagecoach to meet his brother. Another passenger announces his intent to make his fortune from his invention of sunglasses. The stage is robbed and the inventor killed. As John Reid lays the dead man on the floor with the broken dark glasses, yet another passenger says, "So much for American opportunity."
The Lone Ranger (2003)
In 2003, the WB network aired a two-hour Lone Ranger TV movie, starring Chad Michael Murray as The Lone Ranger. The TV movie served as the pilot for a possible new series. However, the movie was greeted unenthusiastically; the name of the secret identity of The Lone Ranger was changed from "John Reid" to "Luke Hartman," and while there was still an empty grave alongside those of the five dead Rangers, its supposed occupant was unidentified, and the hero maintained his unmasked identity as well, becoming a cowboy version of Zorro, as in the first film serial. Ultimately, the project was shelved, with the pilot aired in telefilm form during the summer season due to Murray's popularity with the target audience of the network.
The Lone Ranger (2013)
In 2013, Walt Disney Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer Films released The Lone Ranger, starring Armie Hammer as The Lone Ranger and Johnny Depp as Tonto. Directed by Gore Verbinski, the film is an origin story of the two characters and explores the duo's efforts to subdue the immoral actions of the corrupt, and to bring justice, in the American Old West. The film, produced with an estimated budget of $225 million, was received negatively by American critics and performed poorly at the box office.
The first Lone Ranger novel appeared in 1936, and eventually 18 volumes were published, as listed below. The first book was written by Gaylord Dubois, but the others were written by the character's primary developer, Fran Striker. Striker also re-edited and rewrote parts of later editions of the first novel. First published between 1936 and 1956 in hardback by Grosset and Dunlap, these stories were reprinted in 1978 by Pinnacle Books.
In 2012, Moonstone Books published the novel The Lone Ranger: Vendetta, written by Howard Hopkins.
- The Lone Ranger (1936)
- The Lone Ranger and the Mystery Ranch (1938)
- The Lone Ranger and the Gold Robbery (1939)
- The Lone Ranger and the Outlaw Stronghold (1939)
- The Lone Ranger and Tonto (1940)
- The Lone Ranger Rides (1941)
- The Lone Ranger at the Haunted Gulch (1941)
- The Lone Ranger Traps the Smugglers (1941)
- The Lone Ranger Rides Again (1943)
- The Lone Ranger Rides North (1943)
- The Lone Ranger and the Silver Bullet (1948)
- The Lone Ranger on Powderhorn Trail (1949)
- The Lone Ranger in Wild Horse Canyon (1950)
- The Lone Ranger West of Maverick Pass (1951)
- The Lone Ranger on Gunsight Mesa (1952)
- The Lone Ranger and the Bitter Spring Feud (1953)
- The Lone Ranger and the Code of the West (1954)
- The Lone Ranger and Trouble on the Santa Fe (1955)
- The Lone Ranger on Red Butte Trail (1956)
- The Lone Ranger: Vendetta (2012), ISBN 978-1936814152
Big Little Books
From 1935 to 1950, thirteen Big Little Books were published.
- The Lone Ranger and his Horse Silver (1935)
- The Lone Ranger and the Vanishing Herd (1936)
- The Lone Ranger and the Secret Killer (1937)
- The Lone Ranger and the Menace of Murder Valley (1938)
- The Lone Ranger and the Lost Valley (1938)
- The Lone Ranger and Dead Men's Mine (1939)
- The Lone Ranger and the Black Shirt Highwayman (1939)
- The Lone Ranger and the Red Renegades (1939)
- The Lone Ranger Follows Through (1941)
- The Lone Ranger and the Secret Weapon (1943)
- The Lone Ranger on the Barbary Coast (1944)
- The Lone Ranger and the Silver Bullets (1946)
- The Lone Ranger and the Secret of Somber Cavern (1950)
Little Golden Books
Three Little Golden Books were published.
- The Lone Ranger (1956)
- The Lone Ranger and Tonto (1957)
- The Lone Ranger and the Talking Pony (1958)
In 2012, Moonstone Books published the anthology The Lone Ranger Chronicles, edited by Matthew Baugh Starr with stories by Johnny. D Boggs, James Reasoner, Mel Odom, Bill Crider, Matthew Baugh, Tim Lasiuta, Joe Gentile, Paul Kupperberg, Dennis O'Neil, Kent Conwell, David McDonald, Thom Brannon, Troy D. Smith, Chuck Dixon, and Richard Dean Starr, stories incorporating famous characters of the western, such as Cisco Kid, Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday.
- The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, 1993, Perennial, ISBN 978-0-06-097624-8
- The Lone Ranger Chronicles, anthology edited by Matthew Baugh Starr, 2012, Moonstone Books, ISBN 978-1936814237
King Features Syndicate distributed a newspaper strip of the Lone Ranger from September 1938 to December 1971. Fran Striker himself initially scripted the feature, but time constraints soon required him to quit, replaced by Bob Green, later followed by Paul S. Newman and others. The original artist was Ed Kressy, but he was replaced in 1939 by Charles Flanders who drew the strip until its conclusion.
In 1981, the New York Times Syndicate launched a second Lone Ranger strip, written by Cary Bates with art by Russ Heath. It ran until 1984. In 1993 Pure Imagination Publishing collected two of the storylines and put them in a comic book.
In 1948, Western Publishing, with its publishing partner Dell Comics, launched a comic book series which lasted 145 issues. This originally consisted of reprints from the newspaper strips (as had all previous comic book appearances of the character in various titles from David McKay Publications and from Dell). However, new stories by writer Paul S. Newman and artist Tom Gill began with issue #38 (August 1951). Some original content was presented as early as #7 (January 1949), but these were non-Lone Ranger fillers. Newman and Gill produced the series until its final issue, #145 (July 1962).
Tonto got his own spin-off title in 1951, which lasted 31 issues. Such was the Ranger's popularity at the time that even his horse Silver had a comic book, The Lone Ranger's Famous Horse Hi-Yo Silver, starting in 1952 and running 34 issues; writer Gaylord DuBois wrote and developed Silver as a hero in his own right. In addition, Dell also published three big Lone Ranger annuals, as well as an adaptation of the 1956 theatrical film.
The Dell series came to an end in 1962. Later that same year, Western Publishing ended its publishing partnership with Dell Comics and started up its own comic book imprint, Gold Key Comics. The new imprint launched its own Lone Ranger title in 1964. Initially reprinting material from the Dell run, original content did not begin until issue #22 in 1975, and the magazine itself folded with #28 in 1977. Additionally, Hemmets Journal AB published a three-part Swedish Lone Ranger story the same year.
In 1994, Topps Comics produced a four-issue miniseries, The Lone Ranger and Tonto, written by Joe R. Lansdale and drawn by Timothy Truman. One of the major changes in this series was the characterization of Tonto, who was now shown to be a very witty, outspoken, and sarcastic character, even willing to punch the Lone Ranger during a heated argument, and commenting on his past pop-culture depictions with the words, "Of course, quimo sabe. Maybe when we talk I should use that 'me Tonto' stuff, the way they write about me in the dime novels. You'd like that, wouldn't you?".
The first issue of a new Lone Ranger series from Dynamite Entertainment by Brett Matthews and Sergio Cariello shipped September 6, 2006. It has started as a six-issue miniseries, but due to its success, it has become an ongoing series by the same team. On September 15, 2006, Dynamite Entertainment announced that The Lone Ranger #1 had sold out of its first printing. A second printing of the first issue was announced; a first for the company. The series has received an Eisner Awards nomination for best new series in 2007. True West magazine awarded the publication the "Best Western Comic Book of the Year" in their 2009 Best of The West Source Book! And in 2010 Dynamite released "The Lone Ranger Avenges the Death of Zorro".
Comic Book Collections from Dynamite Entertainment:
- The Lone Ranger Vol. 1 (160 pages, Collects The Lone Ranger #1–6)
- The Lone Ranger Vol. 2 Lines Not Crossed (128 pages, Collects The Lone Ranger #7–11)
- The Lone Ranger Vol. 3 Scorched Earth (144 pages, Collects The Lone Ranger #12–16)
- The Lone Ranger Vol. 4 Resolve (Collects The Lone Ranger #17–25)
- The Lone Ranger Vol. 5 Hard Country (Collects The Lone Ranger Volume 2 #1–6)
- The Lone Ranger Vol. 6 Native Ground (Collects The Lone Ranger Volume 2 #7–12)
- The Lone Ranger & Tonto (128 pages)
- The Lone Ranger: Snake of Iron (92 pages)
- The Lone Ranger Omnibus (632 pages)
- The Lone Ranger: Vindicated (112 pages)
- The Lone Ranger: Death of Zorro (128 pages)
The Lone Ranger Magazine
In late 1930's Roy Meredith produced the first-known animated film based on Lone Ranger, in this silent film The Lone Ranger and Tonto capture a band of cattle rustlers and save the life of the rancher.
Format Films animated cartoon, 1966 to 1968
An animated series of the The Lone Ranger ran from 1966 to 1968 on CBS. It was produced by Herbert Klynn and Jules Engel of Format Films, Hollywood, and designed and animated at the Halas and Batchelor Cartoon Film studios in London, England. The show lasted thirty episodes; however, these were invariably split into three separate shorts, with the middle segment being a solo adventure for Tonto, so that there were actually 90 installments in all. The last episode aired on March 9, 1968.
These Lone Ranger adventures were similar in tone and nature to CBS's science fiction Western, The Wild Wild West, in that the plots were bizarre and had elements of science-fiction and steampunk technology thrown in. Even the Lone Ranger's greatest enemy in the animated series was a dwarf, similar to James T. West's greatest enemy, Dr. Miguelito Loveless. He was called Tiny Tom, and was voiced by Dick Beals. This animated cartoon was credited as being a Jack Wrather production, and it provided the first exposure many 1960s children had to the characters.
The Lone Ranger's voice was provided by Michael Rye, who had portrayed Jack Armstrong: The All-American Boy on radio. Shepard Menken played Tonto. The narrator in the opening title was Marvin Miller. Other "guest voices" were provided by Paul Winchell, Agnes Moorehead and Hans Conried.
The Tarzan/Lone Ranger Adventure Hour, early 1980s
The Lone Ranger was featured, along with Zorro and Tarzan, in Adventure Hour cartoon shorts in the early 1980s, produced by Filmation. These episodes featured William Conrad as the voice of the Masked Man, although he was listed in the credits as "J. Darnoc" (Conrad spelled backwards). This series took a more realistic tone with a heavily historical context to include an educational element to the stories, even though there were several episodes that did feature elements of science fiction (much like the earlier cartoons from the 1960s). There were 14 episodes, combining two adventures in each episode, for a total of 28 stories. Though Conrad was the main voice featured, other noted voice actors in the Filmation series include an uncredited Lou Scheimer, Frank Welker, and Michael Bell.
The Lone Ranger: The Lost Episodes, 2001
In 2001, GoodTimes Home Video released a videotape called The Lone Ranger: The Lost Episodes. Along with clips from the first 1930s film serial, trailers for the two post-TV series features, commercials with Moore, and sometimes Silverheels, in character, and two complete television episodes, there was a cartoon short, said to date from the late 1930s. This cartoon was produced by Pathegrams on 16mm film and sold to the home market and libraries, which often showed cartoons as a prelude to the feature films they would play for children, much as they do videos now. It was a silent film, like most films produced for the home market in those days, and had dialog written on title cards, just as films of the silent era. The DVD also has the approximately eight-minute-long documentary, "The Lone Ranger and the Peace Patrol". Presented and narrated by Clayton Moore, it revolves around purchasing U.S. Savings Stamps, a child's version of Savings Bonds. The main focus is to get children to invest in the stamps. The narrated segment culminates with the inaugural ceremonies on the grounds of the Washington Memorial before a crowd of thousands of children and their parents.
A video game version of The Lone Ranger was released by Konami for the Nintendo Entertainment System in North America in 1991. It is an action adventure game featuring three different perspectives: side-scrolling, overhead, and first-person exploration. The game loosely follows the plot of the 1981 film The Legend of the Lone Ranger, with the ultimate goal being the rescue of the President of the United States, whom the Lone Ranger's nemesis, "Butch" Cavendish, has kidnapped.
The Lone Ranger program offered many radio premiums, including the Lone Ranger Six-Shooter Ring and the Lone Ranger Deputy Badge. Some used a silver bullet motif. One ring had a miniature of one of his six-guns atop it, with a flint and striking wheel, as used in cigarette lighters, so that "fanning" the miniature pistol would produce a shower of sparks. During World War II, the premiums adapted to the times. In 1942, the program offered the Kix Blackout Kit.
Some premiums were rather anachronistic for a 19th-century hero. In 1947, the program offered the Kix Atomic Bomb Ring, also known to collectors as the Lone Ranger Atom Bomb Ring. This ring was a miniature spinthariscope that actually had a small amount of radioisotope in it to produce the scintillations caused by nuclear reactions. With its tailfin piece removed, though, the "bomb" body looked like a silver bullet.
The sponsor was General Mills, with its breakfast-cereal products: Cheerios, Wheaties, and Kix. In 1947, Cheerios produced a line of Frontier Town cereal boxes with the Lone Ranger likeness on the front of the box. Different versions of the boxes would have Frontier Town buildings on their backs to cut out. One could also send in ten cents and a box-top to get each of the four map sections of the town. These, as well as nine different boxes, were needed to complete the cardboard Frontier Town.
Besides the premiums offered in connection with the radio series, there have been many Lone Ranger commercial toys released over the years. One of the most successful was a line of 10-inch action figures and accessories released by Gabriel Toys in 1973.
Parodies and spoofs
Jay Silverheels appeared as Tonto on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson in a comedy sketch in which Carson is interviewing Tonto for employment. The audio portion of this sketch was included in the LP Here's Johnny! Magic Moments From The Tonight Show, released by Casablanca Records.
Both Clayton Moore and Silverheels appeared as the Lone Ranger and Tonto in a commercial for Jeno's Pizza Rolls produced by ad man/satirist Stan Freberg. The commercial was a spoof of a then-current commercial for Lark Cigarettes which also used the William Tell Overture theme music.
A recorded routine by comic Lenny Bruce formed the basis for an animated cartoon, Thank You Mask Man, produced by John Magnuson Associates. This was an adult humor routine, comically implying a gay relationship between the Ranger and Tonto.
The Top Ranger, parody of the movie produced by Disney starring Mickey Mouse (Top Ranger) and Goofy (Tonto-lone), script and drawing by Marco Gervasio and published in Italian comic book Topolino #3005 (July 2, 2013).
The Provolone Ranger, an episode of the Super Mario Bros. Super Show, featured Mario donning a mask to fight outlaws alongside of a speedy companion named Pronto. In a spoof of the Lone Ranger's habit of leaving before those whom he has helped can thank him, the episode ends with Mario returning to collect a reward of pasta.
In Wild West Rangers, a two-part episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Pink Ranger Kimberly Hart (Amy Jo Johnson) falls backwards through time to the Old West, where she meets lookalike ancestors of her fellow Power Rangers and other characters in the show. A hero called the White Stranger, a mask-less duplicate of Kimberly's boyfriend Tommy Oliver, the White Ranger (played by Jason David Frank) rides to the rescue on more than one occasion when danger threatens.
From its inception, George W. Trendle had legal ownership of The Lone Ranger and characters associated with The Lone Ranger through his company The Lone Ranger Inc. Trendle sold The Lone Ranger Inc. to oil man and film producer Jack Wrather in 1954 for $3 million. After Wrather died in 1984, his widow, Bonita Granville, sold the Wrather Productions properties to Southbrook International Television Co. in 1985. Broadway Video acquired the rights in 1994. Classic Media acquired the rights in 2000. DreamWorks Animation acquired Classic Media in 2012 and renamed the division DreamWorks Classics, which was acquired by NBCUniversal in 2016 for $3.8 billion. Its Universal Pictures unit presently has the rights to The Lone Ranger.
- Old Shatterhand
- The Cisco Kid
- Tex Willer
- John R. Hughes
- Lawn Rangers
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- Roy Rogers
- Bass Reeves
- Leave It To Beaver
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Lone Ranger.|
- Lone Ranger is available for free download at the Internet Archive
- Lone Ranger at the National Radio Hall of Fame
- The Lone Ranger Radio Series 1938 - 1956 (downloadable mp3 files)
- The Lone Ranger Rides (1941) at Project Gutenberg and LibriVox
- Lone Ranger at DreamWorks Classics
- The Lone Ranger at Outlaws Old Time Radio Corner
- Death of the Lone Ranger at Snopes.com
- Old Time Radio Podcast Rebroadcasting the show in the order it was placed.
- Richard Goldstein (December 29, 1999). "Clayton Moore, Television's Lone Ranger And a Persistent Masked Man, Dies at 85". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-01-14.