Friday, 9 August 2013

Who Was That Masked Man?

Just been to see the new Lone Ranger film. I knew it would only be a parody of the original tale and so didn't have any high hopes but, as a lifelong fan, I couldn't miss it. It was entertaining enough so no complaints and I have to admit that a tingle ran down my spine when he first rode onto the screen to The William Tell Overture. My 1958 Lone Ranger annual sits on the shelf above me as I type so I thought I'd share a few facts about the legend of the Masked Man.

It started off as a radio programme in 1933. The phrase 'Hi-Yo, Silver! Away!' was written into the script to indicate to the listeners that a riding sequence was about to follow.

The character of Tonto was introduced so that the Lone Ranger had an accomplice to talk to. This made it simpler to explain the plot to the audience.

Actor Clayton Moore played the main part when it hit the TV screen in 1949. Due to a contract dispute he was replaced by John Hart for one series but was soon reinstated.

Canadian Jay Silverheels who played Tonto was born Harold Smith on a Mohawk reservation. Being an outstanding athlete, his nickname, Silverheels, derived from his speed across the ground while playing lacrosse. He started out in films as an extra and stuntman but eventually was given acting parts alongside stars such as Humphrey Bogart and James Stewart.

The Lone Ranger's real name is John Reid. He was part of a posse of Texas Rangers who were ambushed by a band of outlaws. His five fellow riders were killed including the leader, his brother, Captain Daniel Reid. Tonto discovered the injured John Reid and nursed him back to health. They buried the dead men and dug a sixth empty grave to make it look like all six had perished.

He acquired his horse, Silver, when he rescued him from an enraged buffalo.

When the series ended Moore and Silverheels continued to make appearances in character but Clayton was forbidden by the studio to wear the iconic mask. He resorted to wearing dark glasses and joked that people changed the phrase 'Who was that masked man?' to 'Who was that glassed man?'

Moore died in 1999 and Silverheels in 1980.

PS  If you're a fan of Classic FM I understand that the definition of sophistication is the ability to listen to Rossini's overture without thinking of The Lone Ranger. That's me out then.


  1. Very interesting to read all that! I'm really looking forward to seeing the film :-) x

  2. Johnny Depp is very funny but there are also some quite violent bits so be aware if you intend taking your grandchildren, Teresa. It has a 12A certificate. Hope you enjoy it.

  3. Wow! I've learnt something today, Keith!

  4. It's a bit of an interest of mine. Hope it wasn't too boring, Wendy!

  5. Fun post! I was a huge Lone Ranger fan. (as well as Hopalong Cassidy, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, the Cisco Kid, and many more) I love classical music, too, but as long as I live, whenever I hear the William Tell Overture, I WILL think of the Lone Ranger. My favorite episode was the one that showed how he came to be the Lone Ranger, and as I recollect, it was pretty much as you described. What I don't remember, and it's neither here nor there, is why he used silver bullets. (He DID, didn't he...?)

    Anyhow, great post, and very enjoyable. Not sure I want to see the movie, though. I like Johnny Depp, but he's no Clayton Moore.

  6. Glad you liked it, Susan. The Cisco Kid was my other favourite. I think the silver bullets were something to do with the precious metal being a reminder that life is precious. In fact, the original Lone Ranger never shot to kill - only to wound or disarm.
    Johnny Depp actually plays Tonto.

  7. A really interesting post, thank you. I cant' wait to see the film - although I confess it's because I'm a Johnny Depp fan!

  8. Thanks for dropping by, Amanda. Hope you enjoy the film.

  9. Sorry, I'm with Susan and Amanda. I'll be watching it mainly for the gorgeous Johnny Depp - but a really interesting post all the same. Hope you're keeping well Keith.

  10. Johnny Depp doesn't look very pretty in this film, Angela. But I hope you enjoy it.