John Hart (actor)
December 13, 1917|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Died||September 20, 2009
Playas de Rosarito, Baja California, Mexico
|Spouse(s)||Beryl Braithwaite Hart (1957-2009)|
John Hart (December 13, 1917 – September 20, 2009) was an American motion picture and television actor, born in Los Angeles, California. In his early career, he appeared mostly in Westerns. Although he played mostly minor roles in some fairly well known films, he was probably best known for having replaced Clayton Moore in 1952 for one season of the television series, The Lone Ranger.
Hart began his screen career in 1937 with a bit part in Daughter of Shanghai. He continued in a variety of B pictures such as Prison Farm and King of Alcatraz before appearing in two of Cecil B. DeMille's films The Buccaneer (1938) and North West Mounted Police (1940).
His acting career was interrupted when he was drafted into the United States Army in 1941. He rose to the rank of first sergeant in the Coast Artillery, eventually serving in the Philippines. Following military service, he worked frequently for Sam Katzman and was given the lead in the Jack Armstrong (1947) film serial. Hart did stunt work and acted in numerous Westerns and was eventually offered the opportunity to replace Clayton Moore on The Lone Ranger television series. Based on the assumption that the masked character, rather than the actor, was the true star of The Lone Ranger, the program's producers fired Moore (presumably over salary differences) and replaced him with Hart, who was of a similar build and had a comparable background in Westerns. However, the public never truly accepted Hart as the Lone Ranger, and by 1954 the producers returned Moore to the role. According to Clayton Moore's autobiography I Was That Masked Man, Moore never knew why he was replaced with John Hart, and also stated that he had not sought a pay increase. Interestingly, he acted in minor roles in two episodes of The Lone Ranger before being asked to replace Clayton Moore for the entire third season. The episodes were "Rifles and Renegades" (#34) and "Sheriff at Gunstock" (#46).
Hart continued to act in films for more than two decades, appearing in films of several genres, almost always in supporting roles. In 1955, he starred in The Adventures of Captain Africa, which was originally intended to be a new movie about famous comic book hero The Phantom. However, licensing issues made Columbia re-film the entire serial and re-christen the hero "Captain Africa."  Hart also had numerous supporting roles in the Highway Patrol TV series.
In 1957, Hart portrayed Nat "Hawkeye" Cutler in the syndicated western series Hawkeye and the Last of the Mohicans, set in New York State in the 1750s. The one-season program was based loosely on the novels of James Fenimore Cooper. It was filmed in Canada and featured some Indians in a favorable image. Interviewed by Tom Weaver in "Western Clippings" magazine (May–June 2000), Hart revealed that he met actress Beryl Braithwaite when she played a role in an episode of the series; they married just days later, with "Hawkeye" co-star Lon Chaney, Jr., the best man at the wedding.
In 1965 Hart made two brief appearances on Perry Mason, including the role of title character and murder victim Jamison Selff in "The Case of the Wrathful Wraith."
His last theatrical film appearance was in 1981's The Legend of the Lone Ranger in which he appeared as a newspaper editor. He appeared in the television series Happy Days as the Lone Ranger in the episode "Hi Yo, Fonzie Away" (February 9, 1982). In this episode Fonzie, played by Henry Winkler gets to meet his childhood hero, the Lone Ranger, for his birthday. Hart's other major late appearance was in an episode of The Greatest American Hero, My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys, where Hart gives the title character an inspiring speech about heroism.
On September 20, 2009, Hart died at his home in Playas de Rosarito, Baja California, Mexico at the age of 91, survived by his wife Beryl, a son and a daughter. His ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean.
- 1937 : Daughter of Shanghai
- 1938 : The Buccaneer
- 1938 : King of Alcatraz
- 1938 : Prison Farm
- 1939 : Disbarred
- 1940 : North West Mounted Police
- 1947 : Vacation Days
- 1949 : Batman and Robin
- 1950 : Atom Man vs. Superman
- 1951 : Stagecoach Driver
- 1952 : Kansas Territory
- 1952 : Texas City
- 1953 : The Lone Ranger (TV series)
- 1953 : The Great Adventures of Captain Kidd
- 1953 : I Love Lucy (3 episodes, 1953-55)
- 1955 : The Adventures of Captain Africa (serial)
- 1956 : The Ten Commandments
- 1957 : Hawkeye and the Last of the Mohicans (TV series)
- 1958 : Leave It to Beaver (3 episodes, 1958-62)
- 1961 : Pete and Gladys as Mervin in "The Fur Coat Story" (CBS-TV)
- 1962 : The Horizontal Lieutenant
- 1965 : Rawhide (CBS-TV)
- 1966 : Django spara per primo
- 1970 : The Phynx
- 1973 : Santee
- 1973 : Blackenstein
- 1974 : Welcome to Arrow Beach
- 1976 : Blood Voyage
- 1976 : The Astral Factor
- 1978 : Cheerleaders Beach Party
- 1981 : The Greatest American Hero (ABC-TV episode)
- 1981 : The Legend of the Lone Ranger
- 1982 : Happy Days (ABC-TV episode)
- Giesea, Roberta (2000). "The Lone Ranger Comes to Rosarito". Baja California, Mexico: Baja Times. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
- McLellan, Dennis (June 12, 1993). "After 60 Years, the Lone Ranger Still Lives". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 27, 2010.
- McLellan, Dennis (September 29, 2009). "John Hart dies 91". Los Angeles, California: Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
- John Hart at Find a Grave
- John Hart at the Internet Movie Database
- Hawkeye and the Last of the Mohicans Page