The Lone Ranger (TV series)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the television series. For other uses, see Lone Ranger (disambiguation).
The Lone Ranger
Lone ranger silver 1965.JPG
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[edit]

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[edit]

  • Michael Ansara appeared in episode 74 in 1951.
  • James Arness appeared in episode 33 in 1950. He later went on to play the lead in the TV series Gunsmoke.
  • John Banner, who later played the part of Sergeant Schultz in Hogan's Heroes, appeared in a 1950 episode, with a younger and thinner body, but the voice is easily recognized.
  • Frances Bavier appeared in episode 159 in 1955 entitled "Sawtelle Saga's End". Tonto remarked after capturing her that he'd rather fight with a man. She became famous later on playing the part of "Aunt Bee" on The Andy Griffith Show and Mayberry R.F.D.
  • Hugh Beaumont appeared in episode 99 in 1953. He later became famous playing the role of Ward Cleaver in the situation comedy Leave it to Beaver.
  • Harry Carey, Jr. appeared in episode 174 in 1955.
  • Harry Cheshire was cast as Judge Wells in "Word of Honor" (1952) and as Doc Wilson in "The Midnight Rider" (1953).
  • Phyllis Coates appeared in episode 125 entitled "The Perfect Crime" and episode 166 entitled "Woman in the White Mask". She became famous playing the role of Lois Lane in the first 26 episodes of "Superman".
  • Christopher Dark appeared in a 1954 episode entitled "Texas Draw".
  • Gail Davis appeared in episodes 25 and 38 in 1950. She later became famous playing Annie Oakley.
  • Frank Ferguson appeared in episode 149 titled "Enfield Rifle". He became famous with appearances in the TV Series "Lassie" and "My Friend Flicka".
  • Margaret Field appeared in episode 19 in 1950. Her claim to fame turned out to be as the real mother of actress Sally Field.
  • John Hart appeared in episode 34 in 1950, then later played the role of The Lone Ranger for one season in 1952-1953.
  • Percy Helton appeared in episode 148 in 1955 titled "Dan Reid's Sacrifice". His most famous appearance turned out to be the role of a drunken Santa Claus in "Miracle on 34th Street".
  • Dwayne Hickman, along with his brother Darryl Hickman, appeared in episode 75 in 1950. Dwayne later played the role of Dobie Gillis.
  • I. Stanford Jolley, the character actor, made his first appearances in television westerns in 1950 and over the following three years appeared in six episodes of The Lone Ranger.
  • Dick Jones appeared in episode 40 entitled "Man Without a Gun" in 1950. Dick later played the role of Henry Aldrich in The Aldrich Family.
  • Stacy Keach, Sr. appeared in episode 168 in 1955. He later appeared in the TV series Get Smart. Concurrently, Keach was producer and director of Tales of the Texas Rangers. His son James Keach performed as the voice of the Lone Ranger in the entire movie Legend of the Lone Ranger. The star Klinton Spilsbury's voice was regarded as flat. To date it remains Spilsbury's only acting credit.
  • DeForest Kelley appeared in three episodes: 4-The Legion of Old Timers, 27-Gold Trains, 117-Death in the Forest (coincidently as a doctor). Thirteen years after his last appearance, Kelley achieved stardom as Dr. Leonard 'Bones' McCoy on Star Trek.
  • Douglas Kennedy, later cast as Steve Donovan, Western Marshal, appeared in different roles in six episodes of The Lone Ranger from 1952 to 1955.
  • Nan Leslie, later on The Californians, appeared in eight episodes from 1949 to 1955; she made her television debut as Nancy Barton in the episode "The Masked Rider".
  • Marjorie Lord appeared in episode 155 in 1955. She later became famous as the mother in the TV series Make Room for Daddy. Craig Stevens played her husband before playing detective Peter Gunn. Coincidentally, the two series were scheduled opposite each other for two seasons.
  • Tyler MacDuff guest-starred in three Lone Ranger episodes from 1953 to 1957, and was the only person to say on television both "Who was that masked man?" and "That was the Lone Ranger!"[13]
  • Martin Milner appeared in episode 28 in 1950. He later went on to star in 3 TV Series: Route 66, Adam-12, and as the Sheriff on Murder She Wrote.
  • Ewing Mitchell, later on the Sky King series, appeared twice on The Lone Ranger: as Major in "The Courage of Tonto" and as Tom Bryan in "The Banker's Son" (both 1957).
  • Noel Neill appeared in episode 69 in 1951. She later went on to play Lois Lane in the TV series The Adventures of Superman.
  • John M. Pickard appeared in different roles in seven episodes.
  • Slim Pickens appeared in episode 184 in 1956 titled "The Sheriff of Smoke Tree". He was famous for playing roles in "Dr. Strangelove" and "Blazing Saddles".
  • Denver Pyle appeared in episodes 71 & 72 in 1951 and episode 166 in 1955, as well as 187 and 190. He later became famous in the series The Dukes of Hazard playing Uncle Jesse.
  • Mike Ragan appeared in nine episodes from 1950 to 1956, including the roles of Pike Lane in "Bullets for Ballots" and Sloat in "Ghost Canyon".
  • Marion Ross appeared as the daughter of Brother John, Ginny Thorpe, in a 1954 Lone Ranger episode titled "Texas Draw" (Season 4, episode 9). She later became famous as Marion Cunningham in Happy Days.
  • Kim Spalding guest-starred in three The Lone Ranger episodes from 1950 to 1953 at the beginning of his short acting career.
  • William Tannen appeared three times in 1950 and 1956.
  • Carol Thurston was cast twice, as Beata in "Finders Keepers" (1949) and as Mary Turner in "Masked Deputy" (1950).
  • Eddy Waller was cast in three episode, including the role of Jules, an elderly transient who resembles a legendary gambler in "Gentleman from Julesburg" (1953).
  • Frank Wilcox, later the oil executive John Brewster on The Beverly Hillbillies, guest starred in four episodes between 1952 and 1955.
  • Guy Williams played a love-struck sheriff in Six Gun Artist before taking the role of Zorro, another masked rider which was the original inspiration for the Lone Ranger character. Williams later starred in Lost In Space.
  • Michael Winkelman, the child actor and regular on The Real McCoys, appeared as Chip Truett in one of the last episodes of the series, on April 4, 1957, "The Prince of Buffalo Gap."[14]
  • Sheb Wooley appeared in episodes 116, "The Wake of War" and 124, "Stage to Estacado" in 1953, episode 133, "Message to Fort Apache" in 1954 and episode 165 titled "Wanted: The Lone Ranger". He wrote the song "The Purple People Eater", was a cast member of the TV series Rawhide, and played the role of the school principal in the movie "Hoosiers".
  • Minerva Urecal appeared in episode 29 in 1950 and episode 145 in 1954. She went on to play the role of Tugboat Annie in The Adventures of Tugboat Annie.
  • Lee Van Cleef appeared in episode 82, "Desperado at Large" in 1952, and episodes 114, "The Brown Pony" and 124, "Stage to Estacado" in 1953.
  • Victor Sen Yung appeared in episode 192 "The Letter Bride" in 1956. Sen Yung went on to play Hop Sing in the TV series Bonanza.

DVD releases[edit]

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. ^
  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[edit]