Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Happy 91st Anniversary To, Well To - Who Was That Masked Man

Yes that was the question many asked: "Who was that masked man"! If you are as old as me or older, you know he was the Lone Ranger. As the legend goes, he was one of six Texas Rangers gunned down by outlaws but he survived. While he lay wounded, he was found by an Indian whom he had nursed to health years before. The Indian, named Tonto (first heard in episode 11 of the radio show - to give the ranger someone to talk to, to add dialogue), took the ranger to a cave and nursed him to health. When the ranger was well enough to ask what happened to his ranger commrades, Tonto showed him their graves and replied: "You only ranger left. You Lone Ranger". With that a legend was born.

From January 30, 1933 onward for about 20 years or so, starting long before television, there were over 3,000 radio shows featuring that masked man and his faithful companion Tonto. The Lone Ranger on his lightning fast steed Silver, firing silver bullets from his revolver and shouting out Hi-Yo Silver became an image branded into the minds of American youth beginning in September 1949 with the opening of the Lone Ranger television series. The Lone Ranger and Tonto were the original all American inter-racial crime fighting team.The series, starring Clayton Moore (for the great majority of TV episodes, he missed only one year when seeking better pay) and Jay Silverheels ran through 1957. (More at the source.)

It probably was my favorite television show when I was a youngster. My pre-teen young self never knew I was watching reruns (I may have watched before reruns but was too young to remember that) but it did  not matter. I was enchanted and enthralled, reruns or not. The Lone Ranger and Tonto likely had strong enough influence on me that decades later, I became a lawman, loved the West (where I worked during several months long details) and thus was lucky enough to live what I had dreamed of being when I was a child, just without a horse.

One of the most special things about the Lone Ranger was his partnership with Tonto, a native American. Most fiction and historical depictions of Indians at the time showed them as the bad guys or as hopeless wild and ruthless savages. Another thing that was very special was what the shows planted in the minds of children, a code of morality and ethics that is hard to beat. That was the Lone Ranger Creed. It would be a good thing to teach your children today in words and by living it yourselves no matter your race, creed or culture:

"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." 

There was more to the Lone Ranger than his creed. The creators of the character set guidelines for his actions, these may not be as well known as his creed but I assure you that they put how Hollywood heroes are portrayed today to shame. These guidelines as to how he was to be portrayed would be an amazing find in a current fictional or even in a real hero today, they were:

The Lone Ranger is never shown without his mask or some sort of disguise.

With emphasis on logic, The Lone Ranger is never captured or held for any length of time by lawmen, avoiding his being unmasked.

At all times, The Lone Ranger uses perfect grammar and precise speech completely devoid of slang and colloquial phrases.

Whenever he has to use guns, The Lone Ranger never shoots to kill, but rather only to disarm his opponent as painlessly as possible.

Logically, too, The Lone Ranger never wins against hopeless odds; i.e., he is never seen escaping from a barrage of bullets merely by riding into the horizon.

Even though The Lone Ranger offers his aid to individuals or small groups, the ultimate objective of his story is to imply that their benefit is only a by-product of a greater achievement -- the development of the West or our Country. His adversaries are usually groups whose power is such that large areas are at stake.

All adversaries are American to avoid criticism from minority groups.

Names of unsympathetic characters are carefully chosen, avoiding the use of two names as much as possible to avoid even further vicarious association. More often than not, a single nickname is selected.

Criminals are never shown in unenviable positions of wealth or power, and they never appear as either successful or glamourous.

The Lone Ranger does not drink or smoke, and saloon scenes are usually interpreted as cafes with waiters and food instead of bartenders and liquor.(Source.)

That creed & those guidelines seem an impossibilty in a Hollywood, literary or even a real life idol or hero today and seem at best, difficult for any parent to attain. Yet, striving to fullfill at least most, if not all of them, would make for better parents, better kids and a better America.

To me, when I was a child, Clayton Moore was 'The Lone Ranger', in other words not an actor but a true hero. That has not changed much today because while I aam old enough now to understand the diffetence, it was Clayton Moore who brought the Lone Ranger to life and who instilled in me his creed and the desire to be like the Lone Ranger when I grew up. I had many other fictional and real life heros but none quite like him. There is nothing like living out your dreams and Clayton Moore, whose dream was to be portrayed as a hero in western films, knew it well, as can been when you read what he said: "Nothing is as thrilling as having a dream come true — and I enjoyed every minute of it.” (Source of the quote and more about Moore.) He wore the trademark white hat and black mask years after the series ended until a lawsuit by Hollywood scum made him cease doing it but in the mid 1980's he won an appeal and wore them again in many appearances. 


I wound up living out my dream too. I thank him for giving me a dream that eventually came true for me if only because of him actually being my childhood hero - The Lone Ranger. RIP sir!

All the best,

Glenn B