Though many people think only of actor Clayton Moore when the name ‘Lone Ranger’ comes up, the folk hero first came into being on radio. (I’m so old, that’s how I first followed his adventures, albeit in re-broadcasts, as, by then, it was on TV, but we didn’t get one of those until I was seven.)
The radio drama about the masked hero who went about saving people from unsavoury types in America’s Old West premiered on WXYZ Radio in Detroit on January 30th, 1933, which was, ironically, the same day Germany acquired the leader from whom multitudes would long to be saved. The lead character, John Reid, was dubbed the ‘Lone Ranger’, by a Native American called Tonto, who came across him when he was the sole survivor of an ambush some baddies had launched on the bunch of Texas Rangers pursuing them. Not wanting them to know they’d missed one, he donned a mask and set about bringing them to justice – along with numerous other villains along the way. Not alone, of course. Despite the name, he was not alone. In addition to the faithful Tonto (Jay Silverheels on TV), he had a super-smart horse called Silver. Two thousand, nine hundred and fifty-five radio episodes of The Lone Ranger followed the first (what started locally soon went national), with the final one being broadcast on September 3rd, 1954.
The TV series ran from 1949 to 1957. Common to both versions was the music, Rossetti’s ‘William Tell Overture’, and the famous, ‘Hi-Yo Silver!’ cry at the beginning of each episode. Even for the TV show, that was actually emitted by one of the radio rangers, Earle W. Graser.