The Lone Ranger
Our take on a classic tv series hat
The Lone Ranger was a popular radio serial and in 1949 it became a TV series for the new ABC Network and ran from 1949–1957. The original story was written in 1933 as a radio play for a station in Detroit by either George W. Trendle or main writer Fran Striker, or perhaps both. The Lone Ranger soon became the highest-rated program on the young ABC network and its first real hit show, and earned an Emmy Award nomination in 1950.
When the series came to television, Clayton Moore landed the role of the masked Ranger and the producers decided on the cavalry charge from Rossini’s William Tell Overture as the series theme music.
Soon every small boy in North America was yelling HI-HO SILVER AWAY! in chorus with Moore and co-star Jay Silverheels (a Mohawk Indian from Ontario Canada) as they made history as the stars of the first Western written specifically for television. This was the Lone Ranger’s creed.
- That to have a friend, a man must be one.
- That all men are created equal and that everyone has within himself the power to make this a better world.
- That God put the firewood there, but that every man must gather and light it himself.
- In being prepared physically, mentally, and morally to fight when necessary for what is right.
- That a man should make the most of what equipment he has.
- That ‘this government of the people, by the people, and for the people’ shall live always.
- That men should live by the rule of what is best for the greatest number.
- That sooner or later…somewhere…somehow…we must settle with the world and make payment for what we have taken.
- That all things change but truth, and that truth alone, lives on forever.
- In my Creator, my country, my fellow-man
In addition Trendle and Striker had these character guidelines for The Lone Ranger
- The Lone Ranger was never to be seen without his mask or a disguise.
- He was never captured or held for any length of time by lawmen, avoiding his being unmasked.
- He always used perfect grammar and precise speech devoid of slang.
- When he was forced to use guns, he never shot to kill, but to disarm his opponent.
- He never wins against hopeless odds, rather realistically escapes to fight again another day
- He never referrs to himself as the Lone Ranger, but would confirm people’s suspicion (either verbally or with one of his silver bullets) if they figured it out for themselves. The single exception was in the very first episode in which after fashioning his mask from cloth from his dead brother’s vest, he tells Tonto he will be known as the Lone Ranger.
- His adversaries were usually groups whose power was such that large areas of land or whole towns were at stake. So even though The Lone Ranger offered his aid to individuals or small groups, the ultimate beneficiary of his actions was always that their part of the West improved and thus so did the country in general.
- Adversaries were never other than American, to avoid criticism from minority groups…with a few exceptions.
- Names of unsympathetic characters were carefully chosen, never consisting of two names if it could be avoided. More often than not, a single nickname was selected.
- The Lone Ranger never drank or smoked; and saloon scenes were usually shown as cafes, with waiters and food instead of bartenders and liquor.
- Criminals were never shown in enviable positions of wealth or power, and they were never successful or glamorous.
- It was decided that the Ranger would only use silver bullets, to remind himself that life is precious and not to be thrown away.
The Lone Ranger story has become a uniquely American one and over time has reached iconic stature within our cowboy culture. And with the William Tell Overture as its theme song, how could it lose!