Clayton Moore sat out 52 episodes. The studio claimed it was a pay dispute, but Moore insisted up until his death that it was over creative differences. John Hart was hired to replace him, but the change did not sit well with audiences. When George W. Trendle sold the rights for the series to Jack Wrather in 1954, Wrather immediately rehired Moore.
Premiered on ABC on 15 September 1949 (Thursdays 7:30-8:00). Last telecast: 12 September 1957. This was the only ABC program to rank in the top 15 when the A.C. Neilsen Co. began compiling national ratings for network programs. In 1950 it ranked #7 with a 41.2% share. The show was on ABC throughout its run. Reruns began on CBS on Saturday mornings in 1953 and continued to September 1960 and then on NBC for another four years. ABC showed reruns of it in late afternoons from 1958 to 1961. None of the network reruns featured John Hart as "The Lone Ranger", the other "Lone Ranger" from 1952-53.
"Kemo Sabe" means "trusted friend". In Episode One it is explained that it means "trusted scout". Other sources have said that it is a corruption of the Spanish phrase "Quien sabe", which means "Who knows?".
The Lone Ranger was inspired by a US marshal named Bass Reeves, who worked in the Oklahoma Territory. Because the territory was largely Indian reservations--and therefore sovereign territory--marshals had to be accompanied by a Native American, hence the character of Tonto. Despite a sterling reputation for maintaining law and order, even when it meant arresting his own son, Reeves was eventually driven from office when Jim Crow laws were passed. Unlike the portrayal he is given on the show, the real Bass Reeves was black.
The 52 episodes in which John Hart portrayed "The Lone Ranger" have been rarely seen on TV or home video since 1952-54, when ABC ran them twice. Hart returned to star in 1957 as "Hawkeye" on TV's Hawkeye and the Last of the Mohicans (1957), unnoticed by most viewers as a previous masked man.
The radio program, the TV series used incidental music from Republic Pictures serials (although with new orchestral arrangements) to fit the many action sequences. Program creator George W. Trendle had obtain rights to the Republic music package as part of the deal for Republic to produce a second Lone Ranger serial. Originally on radio, the show had used German recordings of classical pieces, the only classical music retained later on the radio show and on TV were series' theme of Gioachino Rossini's "William Tell Overture". as well as "The Preludes" by Franz Liszt, used on radio as the bridge in and out of the middle commercial. During 1956-57, which was to become the last season of new episodes, the usual musical score supporting the action scenes was replaced by an incidental music package widely used in early filmed TV series, as well as low budget B pictures and theatrical serials. This was at least a contributing factor to the series' sudden decline in popularity.
Uniquely, "The Lone Ranger," as televised on ABC, offered four seasons of a new episode each week for at least a year without a rerun. From 1949-51 the first 78 episodes were aired and then rerun in the same order. For the subsequent seasons beginning on Sept. 1952, Sept. 1954 and Sept. 1956, the same format was followed with 52 consecutive new episodes aired and then rerun in the following 12-month period. The young viewers would have to wait "until the same time next year", often coinciding with their school year or summer vacation, to see a rerun of a favorite or "missed" episode.
The series' budget was $12,000 per episode from 1949-1954, then it was increased to $18,000 per episode from 1954 until production of new episodes ended in 1957, though the series remained,on network TV (CBS, NBC) weekly until 1963.
After the series ended, Clayton Moore began making public appearances as the Lone Ranger. Jack Wrather filed suit against Moore, claiming ownership of the character. In 1979 Wrather won the suit so Moore wore wraparound Foster-Grant sunglasses as a substitute for the mask. Moore later won a countersuit allowing him to resume wearing his costume.
In 1955 at the height of the show's popularity, just before the release of the movie feature The Lone Ranger (1956), both ABC and CBS aired "The Lone Ranger Rides Again" (1955). This was a one-hour condensed version of the series' first three episodes depicting "The Lone Ranger's" origin.