Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Lone Ranger - A Remberance - 3 Days Late

On December 28, 1999 one of my childhood heroes rode off into the sunset for the last time with a mighty Hi-yo Silver, away! That was the day that Jack Carlton Moore rode to his final sunset. You may know him as Clayton Moore, or even better as The Lone Ranger. For those of you who don't remember him, he was The Lone Ranger of the 1950's television series by the same name (well for all but one season when he was replaced by John Hart, but then came back to the role the next year).

The Lone Ranger, was the sole survivor of an ambush on a group of 6 Texas Rangers. He vowed to bring justice to those who had killed his older brother and the other 4 rangers killed in the ambush (no not at all like the Lone Ranger of the movie circa the early 1980's who was more of an inept metrosexual girlie man than he was anything close to resembling a Texas Ranger). The Lone Ranger, masked and accompanied by his faithful friend Tonto as they rode across the west were role models for American children at a time when role models were meant to instill good qualities within us. Through their on screen heroics they taught us about such things as honesty, loyalty, friendship, patriotism, civic pride, democracy, responsibility for our actions, a good work ethic, equality of all men, self sacrifice, and so on. Try to find those same values being taught on television shows today, or even in schools, not that easy is it! Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels (the actor who portrayed Tonto) both had a firm belief in all of the values I just mentioned and they both believed it was important for them to be good role models for American children. Once he was cast in that role, Clayton Moore's life would change forever - he would actually become The Lone Ranger.



Long after his final film appearance as the Lone Ranger in 1958, Moore would continue to make public appearances as the Lone Ranger. Thus he remained a role model for children not only in the U.S.A. but around the world many years after his acting career had ended. The truth be told he essentially gave up that career to continue to make appearances as the mysterious masked man in order to spread good as a positive role model for children. Then in 1979 an unimaginable thing happened. Moore was stripped of the right to refer to himself as The Lone Ranger and to wear the mask that had become his trademark garb. The reason was simple - I believe it to have been greed an nothing else. You see, the rights to the Lone Ranger name and story had been sold and a new movie was being produced. Justice though, a kind not served by court order, soon would be served as it always had been in the hundreds of episodes of the Lone Ranger television series. The 1981 movie, The Legend of the Lone Ranger bombed in theaters. The fact that Moore had lost the right to portray himself as The Lone Ranger is believed to have played a pivotal role in keeping movie goers away from theaters that showed this movie. Of course, the character of the Lone Ranger in the 1981 bomb was portrayed very differently than it had been the original radio and television versions. That in combination with Moore having been stripped of his mask had fans incensed. In 1985, Moore was again allowed to resume using the name of The Lone Ranger and was again allowed to don the mask and outfit for public appearances.

The time period in which Moore lost his right to wear the mask and portray himself as the Lone Ranger up through the year after he won that right back was a tough one for him. Not only was the legal battle stressful, but the following year, 1980, Jay Silverheels passed away. Moore had had a close relationship with him and his words about him were quite telling: “I could only hope that Jay, wherever he was, knew how much I loved him and respected him and how much of an impact he had on my life and so many other lives...”. Then, in 1986, year after he won the rights back, his wife of many years (since his army days in WWII) passed away. Despite the pain, none of this deterred Moore from being The Lone Ranger.

The character was so ingrained into Moore's life that he essentially gave up his career in acting to continue to be The Lone Ranger. For decades after the series and last movie (with him as the Lone Ranger) were filmed, he made public appearances as The Lone Ranger. (I saw him once, at such an appearance. I cannot recall where or when but I can recall the thrill I felt, and I was no kid anymore at that time. Heck I also remember my most prized possession as a kid - silver bullets - sure they were plastic but they were real silver to me.) Giving up acting probably was no easy thing for Moore.
As for his acting career, he was referred to as the King of the B's for his roles in many serials of his days at Republic Pictures. He was a well respected actor and on his way up and his role as the masked man skyrocketed him to fame. Coincidentally enough, his last film before he took up the role of The Lone Ranger was that of another masked hero in: The Ghost of Zoro. Sortly after he completed that film he was approached by Lone Ranger creator George Trendle, in 1949, and asked if he wanted the part of the Lone Ranger. Moore's answer was almost prophetic when he said: "Mr. Trendle, I am The Lone Ranger".



Over the many years since he first donned the mask, the six shooters that shot silver bullets, saved the innocent with his faithful friend Tonto, and cried "Hi-yo Silver, away" while riding his horse Silver off into the sunset - he lived up to the character of the Lone Ranger so much so that his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is reportedly the only one not only to show the actor's name, but also the name of his character - 'The Lone Ranger'. In the television series, as The Lone Ranger rode off into the sunset, the show often ended with someone whom he had saved asking: "Who was that masked man"? While his identity never was divulged to the other characters in the series, at least not to the bad guys or to those whom he would invariably rescue from the bad guys, that secret was one of the hallmarks of the show. Today though we know the answer to the question. I suppose it was Moore who said it best himself. He said it first to Mr. Trendle when asked if he wanted the part, with his prophetic answer as seen above. Then years later in his autobiography, he said it this way:

"It doesn't matter that I am Clayton Moore, an actor, and that the Lone Ranger is a legendary figure of folklore. In more ways than I can count, we have become one and the same. I have absorbed parts of him, and he has taken on the best elements of my personality. Until the day I am taken to that big ranch in the sky, I will continue to wear the mask proudly and to do my best to live up to the standards of honor, decency, respect, and patriotism that have defined the Lone Ranger since 1933."


By the way, the name of his book was: I Was That Masked Man!

Of course there was a lot more to Moore's life than being The Lone Ranger. He was married four times, he had several other acting roles, he had been a trapeze artist and appeared as such at the 1934 World's Fair, he had been a model, he was in the U.S. Army during WWII, and he was a true patriot. The thing is though, Moore had always had a dream of becoming a cowboy actor! Little did he probably ever suspect that not only would he act out his dream, but he would become The Lone Ranger a character in existence since 1933! No other radio, television or film actor is more associated with The Lone Ranger than was Clayton Moore.




In closing my tribute to Clayton Moore - The Lone Ranger - let me share with you his creed, the Code of The Lone Ranger, one that he lived by not only on the silver screen but apparently also lived by in real life:



The Lone Ranger's Creed:



"I believe:



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 that which 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."

Heck if he had been around to run for president, I would have voted for him!



All the best,
Glenn B



PS: A new Lone Ranger movie reportedly is in the making. Let's hope it is true to the original theme; and let's hope they do not choose a loser like George Clooney to play the part as I have heard it hinted. I figure a more manly guy like Tom Seleck, or Mel Gibson would be a better choice, or even Bruce Willis - but not someone who is in my opinion an arse wipe pussified loser like George Clooney. Don't the movie makers get it - Clayton Moore was not only type cast as the Lone Ranger, the character of the Lone Ranger was type cast as Clayton Moore. So as a result, the actor who plays the Lone Ranger and the character of the Lone Ranger need to have the same principles as in the creed above - otherwise it just isn't The LONE RANGER!

As for Johnny Depp playing Tonto - as I heard is a definite - at least he is supposedly part American Indian. Yet, I would think Hollywood could come up with a better choice. Oh well, that's the Hollywood of today and not the 1950s. Seleck and Depp, you know maybe it could work...even though Depp could never fill Jay Silverheels' moccasins because Tonto also lived by those principles.



References:

http://www.lonerangerfanclub.com/index.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lone_Ranger
http://youtube.com/