Timeless Tuesday: ‘Hi-Yo, Silver!’ The Lone Ranger turns 85!

On January 30, 1933, a daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains was created to lead the good fight for law and order in the early days of the Old West.  His true identity unknown, he was written by Fran Striker as the combination of Robin Hood and the midnight rider named Zorro.  Like the Fox and his steed Tornado, he champions justice for all on his trusty steed Silver.  His calling card?  A silver bullet.  His name?  Why, he’s The Lone Ranger, the masked deputy that made his debut on radio at WXYZ Detroit; Earle W. Graser provided the voice.

The great survivor of the Bryant’s Gap ambush that led the deaths of several Texas Rangers, including his brother Dan, John Reid was nursed back to health by the Indian Tonto, who remembers the “kemosabe” (“trusty scout”) that saved his life as a child.  Reborn like a phoenix, John decides to honor the memory of his brother by wearing a mask out of the latter’s clothing: a mask that will serve as a badge.  With his blood brother and friend Tonto by his side, he dedicates his life of justice by law against evil men like Butch Cavendish: rooting out greed, thievery, and corruption in the West.

In 1949, “The Lone Ranger” rode his way onto ABC with Clayton Moore defining the role alongside Jay Silverheels as Tonto.  John Hart, who made two separate guest appearances, played the character with earnest for only one season (1952-53), but it was Moore that made the masked man an icon through most of the show’s eight-year run and 221 episodes.  He and Silverheels continued their roles onto the big screen with 1956’s “The Lone Ranger” and 1958’s “The Lone Ranger and The Lost City of Gold”.

The masked man returned with 1981’s “Legend of the Lone Ranger” and Disney’s big-budget adaptation in the summer of 2003 starring Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp as Tonto.  Despite their potential and valiant efforts, both films were critical and commercial disappointments.

Nevertheless, the legend of the Lone Ranger continues to lives on with not only reruns in syndication, books and comics, but the masked man also inspired and influenced shows such as NBC’s “Knight Rider” (1982-86) with David Hasselhoff, ABC’s “Hardcastle & McCormick”(1983-86) with Brian Keith and Daniel Hugh Kelly; “Renegade” (1992-96, syndication; 1996-97, USA Network) with Lorenzo Lamas, and CBS’ “Walker, Texas Ranger” (1993-2001) with Chuck Norris.

On January 30, 1982, CBS aired “The Long Drive” on the Saturday morning “Lone Ranger” cartoon.  The plot revolves around the masked man and Tonto riding to Abliene to catch some cattle rustlers.

After 85 years, the Lone Ranger remains one of “those thrilling days of yesteryear” with the adventures of a masked man who rides a white horse, uses silver bullets, have an Indian companion named Tonto, never stays around in one place for thanks, but he’s always there when you need him.

The Lone Ranger rides again!



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