Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Thursday, June 9, 2016


In the early days of the western United States, a masked man and an Indian rode the plains, searching for truth and justice.  Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear, when from out of the past come the thundering hoofbeats of the great horse Silver!  The Lone Ranger rides again!

With those words began the saga of the Lone Ranger, a popular media character since his first appearance on Detroit's WXYZ Radio on the last days of January 1933.  The character had been surviving member of a group of Texas Rangers ambushed by the outlaw Butch Cavendish's gang.  Badly wounded, he was discovered and nursed back to health by the Indian Tonto, who had recognized the man as the boy who had saved his life when both were children.  Masked, presumably to honor the rangers who had died in the attack (with his identity he hidden he could have been any one of the rangers, you see), he became The Lone Ranger, seeking justice on the old west and helping to develop the young territory.  As the radio show went on, he gained his horse Silver and Tonto (who actually was introduced in the eighth episode) got his horse Scout, the Ranger's trademark silver bullets were introduced. as was his nephew Dan Reid (who, according to radio legend, became the father to Britt Reid, The Green Hornet).

An ace marksman, the Lone Ranger never shot to kill.  He always used proper English and clear diction.  His face was never seen and he was never unmasked.  From 1933 to 1954, he appeared in nearly three thousand radio episodes.  From September 1954 to May 1956, when the series finally left the airwaves, rebroadcasts were used.  From the lowly Detroit station, the show soon moed to the Mutual Broadcasting Network until 1942, after which it appeared on the NBC Blue Network, staying there when it morphed into ABC Network until the end.

The genesis of the radio show is somewhat contested.  One camp says it ws created by WXYZ station owner George Trendle (who owned the rights to the character); another says it was created by head writer Fran Striker.  Striker's name is more commonly associated with the character, have written or rewritten the novels which began in 1936.  The character may have have been inspired by Zane Gray's 1915 novel The Lone Star Ranger or by the person to whom Gray had dedicated that novel, John R. Hughes, a Texas Rangers Captain.  The character also bears a resemblance to one that Striker had creaded earlier for a Buffalo radio station.

No matter, The Lone Ranger was a great hit.  He moved to television from 1949 to 1957 for 221 issues.  He appeared in six films from 1956 to the recent 2013 clunker.  There was an animated film in the late Thirties, ninety animated television episodes in the Sixties, followed by 24 animated episodes in the Eighties.  There were 18 Lone Ranger novels and 13 Big Little Books, as well as 3 Golden Books.  The Lone Ranger Magazine lasted eight issues as a pulp magazine in 1937.  A newspaper comic strip ran from 1938 to 1971; a second strip ran from 1981 to 1984.  The character appeared in his own comic book in 1948 and ran for 175 issues until 1962.  Another publisher took over the title in 1964, although original content was not used until 1975; this comic book folded in 1977.  Writer Joe R. Lansdale (hisownself) wrote a four-part miniseries comic book in 1994.  And in 2006, Dynamite Entertainment revived the character.  Dynamite has published at least eleven collections from this series that continues to this day.  (By the way, Tonto had his own comic book in the Fifties -- 31 issues-- as did Silver -- 34 issues.)

(Off-topic, I guess:  Q:  Where does The Lone Ranger take his trash?  A:  To the dump, to  the dump, to the dump. dump. dump.)

Back to the radio show.  The first to play the title character.was a guy named George Seaton.  He lasted a couple of months and was replaced by Earl Graser who carried to role from April 7, 1933 to April 7, 1941.  He was killed in an automobile accident the following day, April 8, 1941.  He was replaced by Bruce Beemer, who played the role in the episode inked below.  Beemer stayed with the show  through all the original episodes through 1954.  The part of Tonto was played by John Todd. for most of the episodes.

From April 21, 1941, let's go back to those thrilling days of yesteryear with "Chisholm Trail."


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