Lee Powell (actor)
May 15, 1908|
Long Beach, California
|Died||July 30, 1944
Tinian, Mariana Islands
Lee Powell (born Lee Berrian Powell; May 15, 1908 Long Beach, California – July 30, 1944 Tinian) was a film actor famed for the leading roles in several serials. He was the first actor to portray The Lone Ranger on Film. During World War II he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps seeing action on several Pacific Islands and died of alcohol poisoning.
Making his first appearance uncredited in Under Two Flags (1936), Powell gained fame for playing the suspect who turned out to be The Lone Ranger and one of The Fighting Devil Dogs in 1938 serials. He was the first actor to portray the Lone Ranger on film. In addition to making films for Republic Pictures, Powell also appeared in Universal Pictures Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe serial, made one Western for the soon-to-be-defunct Grand National Pictures and made the six Western programmer films of the Frontier Marshals series, in which each of the three leads (the others being Bill "Cowboy Rambler" Boyd and Art Davis) played a lawman bearing his own name, for Producers Releasing Corporation. Between films Powell also appeared in Barnett Brothers circus being billed as The Lone Ranger until litigation had him change his billing. Powell met and married Norma Rogers, a circus bareback rider and the daughter of the circus owner.
Marine Corps career
Powell enlisted in the Corps on 17 August 1942 serving in the 2nd Pioneer Battalion, 18th Marine Regiment of the 2nd Marine Division. Sergeant Powell fought in the Battle of Tarawa and Battle of Saipan. Although widely reported to have been killed in action against the enemy, he died of alcohol poisoning on Tinian as the result of a concoction that also temporarily blinded another Marine.
Fred Goerner, CBS correspondent, while conducting research for his later best seller "The Search for Amelia Earhart," (1966) had a discussion with a former Marine who participated in the Battles of Saipan and Tinian. (June/July 1944) That Marine told Goerner that Lee Powell died after drinking poisoned sake.
- "Lee Powell". b-westerns.com. Retrieved 2008-09-06., citing STARS IN THE CORPS - Movie Actors in the United States Marines by James E. Wise, Jr., and Anne Collier Rehill (ISBN 1557509492, Naval Institute Press, 1999), pages 164-165
- Rainey, Buck (2005). Serial Film Stars: A Biographical Dictionary 1912-1956. McFarland and Company. p. 595. ISBN 0-7864-2010-3.
- Elephants & The Lone Ranger In York
- Personal Notes of Fred Goerner, Goerner Collection, National Museum of the Pacific War, Fredericksburg, TX