The Lone Ranger (TV series)

This article is about the television series. For other uses, see Lone Ranger (disambiguation).
The Lone Ranger

Created by George W. Trendle
Fran Striker
Starring Clayton Moore
Jay Silverheels
John Hart
Lane Bradford
Chuck Courtney
John Doucette
Robert Bray
Hank Worden
David McMahon
Narrated by Gerald Mohr
Fred Foy
Opening theme "William Tell Overture"
by Gioachino Rossini
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 5
No. of episodes 221 (list of episodes)
Running time 30 minutes
Production company(s) Apex Film
Wrather Productions
Original network ABC
Picture format Black-and-white
Audio format Monaural
Original release September 15, 1949 (1949-09-15) – June 6, 1957 (1957-06-06)[1]

The Lone Ranger is an American western drama television series that aired on the ABC Television network from 1949 to 1957, with Clayton Moore in the starring role. Jay Silverheels, a member of the Mohawk Aboriginal people in Canada, played The Lone Ranger's Native American companion Tonto.

John Hart replaced Moore in the title role from 1952 to 1954 due to a contract dispute. The live-action series initially featured Gerald Mohr as the narrator. Fred Foy was both narrator and announcer of the radio series from 1948 until its ending and then became announcer of the television version, for which narration of the story was dropped. The Lone Ranger was the highest-rated television program on ABC in the early 1950s and its first true "hit".[2] The series finished #7 in the Nielsen ratings for the 1950-1951 season, #18 for 1951-1952 and #29 for 1952-1953.[3]

Series premise

The fictional story line maintains that all of a patrol of six Texas Rangers are massacred, except for one. The "lone" survivor thereafter disguises himself with a black mask and travels with Tonto throughout Texas and the American West to assist those challenged by the lawless elements. A silver mine supplies The Lone Ranger with the name of his horse as well as the funds and bullets required to finance his wandering life-style. Glenn Strange, a native of Otero County, New Mexico, was cast in eight episodes as the evil Butch Cavendish, at least a decade before he was cast as Sam Noonan, the bartender on Gunsmoke.[4]


George W. Trendle retained the title of producer, although he recognized that his experience in radio was not adequate for producing the television series. For this, he hired veteran MGM film producer Jack Chertok. Chertok served as the producer for the first 182 episodes as well as for a rarely seen 1955 color special retelling the origin.

The first 78 episodes were produced and broadcast for 78 consecutive weeks without any breaks or reruns. Then the entire 78 episodes were shown again before any new episodes were produced. All were shot in Kanab, Utah and California. Much of the series was filmed on the former Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, California, including the iconic opening sequence to each episode, in which the cry of "Hi-yo Silver" is heard before the Lone Ranger and Silver gallop to a distinctive rock and Silver rears up on his hind legs. The rock seen next to Silver is known as Lone Ranger Rock and remains in place today on the site of the former movie ranch.

When it came time to produce another batch of 52 episodes, there was a wage dispute with Clayton Moore (until his death, the actor insisted that the problem was creative differences), and John Hart was hired to play the role of the Lone Ranger.[5] Once again, the 52 new episodes were aired in sequence followed by 52 weeks rerunning them. Despite expectations that the mask would make the switch workable, Hart was not accepted in the role, and his episodes were not seen again until the 1980s.[6][7][8][9]

At the end of the fifth year of the television series, Trendle sold the Lone Ranger rights to Jack Wrather, who bought them on August 3, 1954. Wrather immediately rehired Clayton Moore to play the Lone Ranger, and another 52 episodes were produced. Once again, they were broadcast as a full year of new episodes followed by a full year of reruns.

The final season saw a number of changes, including an episode count of 39, which had become the industry standard. Wrather invested money from his own pocket to film in color, although ABC telecast only in black and white. Wrather also went outdoors for action footage. Otherwise, the series was mostly filmed on a studio sound stage. Another big change, not readily detectable by the viewers, was replacing Jack Chertok with producer Sherman A. Harris. By this time, Chertok had established his own television production company and was busy producing other programs.

Wrather decided not to negotiate further with the network and took the property to the big screen and cancelled television production. The last new episode of the color series was broadcast on June 6, 1957, and the series ended September 12, 1957, although ABC reaped the benefits of daytime reruns for several more years. Wrather's company produced two modestly budgeted theatrical features, The Lone Ranger (1956) and The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold (1958). The cast included former child actress Bonita Granville, who had married Wrather after his divorce from a daughter of former Texas Governor W. Lee O'Daniel.



Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels in 1956.

Guest stars

DVD releases

On March 31, 2009, Mill Creek Entertainment released the box set Gun Justice featuring The Lone Ranger with other westerns, including Annie Oakley, The Adventures of Kit Carson, The Cisco Kid, Cowboy G-Men, Judge Roy Bean, The Gabby Hayes Show, and The Roy Rogers Show.

On November 11, 2009, Classic Media released The Lone Ranger: 75th Anniversary Edition to commemorate the show.[15] On June 4, 2013, Classic Media released The Lone Ranger: Collector's Edition, a 30-disc set featuring all 221 episodes of the series on DVD for the very first time, though many of the episodes are the syndicated edits missing 2–3 minutes.[16]


  1. Goldstein, Richard (December 29, 1999). "Clayton Moore, Television's Lone Ranger And a Persistent Masked Man, Dies at 85". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-25.
  2. "Clayton Moore, the 'Lone Ranger,' dead at 85". CNN. Retrieved 2009-10-19.
  3. " TV Ratings".
  4. Billy Hathorn, "Roy Bean, Temple Houston, Bill Longley, Ranald Mackenzie, Buffalo Bill, Jr., and the Texas Rangers: Depictions of West Texans in Series Television, 1955 to 1967", West Texas Historical Review, Vol. 89 (2013), p. 103
  5. McLellan, Dennis (1993-06-12). "After 60 Years, the Lone Ranger Still Lives". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-09-27.
  6. "Clayton Moore, the "Lone Ranger", dead at 85". CNN. Retrieved 2009-10-19.
  7. Vallance, Tom (1999-12-30). "Obituary: Clayton Moore". The Independent. London. Retrieved 2009-10-19.
  8. Stassel, Stephanie (1999-12-29). "Clayton Moore, TV's "Lone Ranger", Dies". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-10-19.
  9. "Lone Ranger star dies". BBC. 1999-12-29. Retrieved 2009-10-19.
  10. McLellan, Dennis (1993-06-09). "A Gathering of Kemo Sabes". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-01.
  11. "Who's That Masked Man? Hi-Yo-It's Clayton Moore!". The Los Angeles Times. 1985-01-15. Retrieved 2010-11-01.
  12. McLellan, Dennis. "John Hart dies at 91; the other 'Lone Ranger'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2010-11-01.
  13. "Biography for Tyler MacDuff". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved 2010-01-09.
  14. "MichaelWinkelman (1946-1999)". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved 2011-08-20.
  15. "The Lone Ranger - Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear". Retrieved 2009-10-19.
  16. "The Lone Ranger DVD news: Package Art for The Lone Ranger - Collector's Edition". Retrieved 2013-08-19.

External links

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