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The lone surviving Texas Ranger who was nursed back to health by the Indian Tonto rides with him, on Silver and Scout, throughout the West, doing good while living off a silver mine which supplies him with income and bullets. Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The Lone Ranger appeared on the ABC network on September 15, 1949 in the first of a three part episode that told the history of the famous masked man of the West.
Along with William Boyd's Hopalong Cassidy TV series, which was first telecast on NBC on June 24, 1949, it was among the earliest TV western series. Hopalong Cassidy actually debuted in 1948, when Boyd syndicated his films to NBC. (In 1947, Boyd had bought to the rights to his Hoppy films.)
Fran Stiker and George W. Trendle created the Lone Ranger as a local radio program in 1933. It quickly went nationwide and was the cornerstone of the old Mutual Radio network. Ironically, Hopalong Cassidy was also a Mutual radio program.
When The Lone Ranger was brought to TV in 1949, many of the radio plays were adapted to the younger medium. As a consequence, many of the earliest episodes show their radio origins with the use of a narrator who links the different scenes together. The Lone Ranger was the biggest hit on the new ABC network in its early years.
The first three episodes told the the familiar story of how the Lone Ranger came to be, his connection to Tonto, and the origins of his prize horse Silver. Glenn Strange played the villain Butch Cavandish in these episodes.
The Lone Ranger was also one of the earliest shows to film mostly outdoors. Starting in 1956, the Wrather Company began filming the program in color.
The Cisco Kid, starring Duncan Renaldo and Leo Carrillo had been filmed in color since its first aired in 1950. Jack Wrather, however, was more concerned about the competition to his kid's show from the new adult westerns that had began to appear on TV.
When the Lone Ranger appeared, The New York Times critic Jack Gould ripped the show, as "just another Western, and not a notably good one at that." Gould considered the first three episodes manipulative, mostly because of the cliffhanger endings of the first two episodes. The New York Times writer accused everyone associated with the program of keeping children "emotionally hopped upped." As a result of his criticisms, the cliffhanger type endings were never used after the first two episodes. Gould, however, had been suffering from a misunderstanding. The show had never intended to be broadcast as a serial despite the serial background of its star Clayton Moore.
In 1952, B-film actor John Hart replaced Clayton Moore. Moore had threatened to quit after 1950. He was being paid only $500 an episode for his hit show, and wanted a substantial raise. Audiences rejected Hart in the role, and after 36 episodes Moore was back atop Silver.
The Lone Ranger was the first Western Hit on TV.
The series was filmed in both Utah and in California.
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