Many kids these days have no idea that the character of Woody from the popular Toy Story films was directly inspired by The Lone Ranger television show that was so extremely popular immediately after World War II. The last time the Lone Ranger made any kind of legitimate appearance in either television or motion pictures it was in the 1981 film The Legend of the Lone Ranger which had mild success, but involved the tragic injury of Terry Leonard, the famous stuntman from Raiders of the Lost Ark. In the 1981 film, a stagecoach accident ran over both of Terry’s legs which tarnished the film a bit to even my young eyes. The scene made it into the movie, but was difficult to accept as I always related more with the stuntmen in films than I ever did the actual actors. There was a time in my life where I wanted to be a stuntman more than anything else, but that idea subsided a bit after several violent car crashes, encounters with actual villains who shot real bullets, and a few years of marriage. But deep in my heart is the love of the Lone Ranger and his code of moral conduct that helped shape America’s identity with his classic white hat, black mask, and silver bullets.
My primary exposure to the Lone Ranger came from Saturday morning serials. For me it was always a toss-up between the Lone Ranger, and Zorro who I loved more. One of those classic Republic serials can be seen throughout this article. I’m sharing it in the same way that I shared the Republic serial, Zorro’s Fighting Legion. These types of programs made a point to teach children and adults values they could both share. This is why I am so eager to see the new Lone Ranger film by the Disney Company.
The Lone Ranger is a fictional character: a masked ex-Texas Ranger who, with his Indian companion Tonto, fights injustice in the American Old West. The character has become an enduring icon of American culture.
He first appeared in 1933 in a radio show conceived either by WXYZ radio station owner George W. Trendle or by Fran Striker, the show’s writer. It has been suggested that Bass Reeves, a legendary Federal peace officer in the Indian Territory (1875 – 1907) was the inspiration for this character. The show proved to be a hit, and spawned a series of books (largely written by Striker), an equally popular television show that ran from 1949 to 1957, and comic books and movies. The title character was played on radio by George Seaton, Earle Graser, and most memorably Brace Beemer. To television viewers, Clayton Moore was the Lone Ranger. Tonto was played by, among others, John Todd, Roland Parker, and in the television series, Jay Silverheels.
Departing on his white stallion, Silver, the Lone Ranger would shout, “Hi-Ho, Silver! Away!” As they galloped off, someone would ask, “Who was that masked man, anyway?” Tonto usually referred to the Lone Ranger as “Ke-mo sah-bee“, meaning “trusty scout” or “trusted friend.” These catchphrases, his trademark silver bullets, and the theme music from the William Tell overture have become tropes of popular culture.
In every incarnation of the character to date, the Lone Ranger conducts himself by a strict moral code put in place by Striker at the inception of the character. Actors Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels both took their positions as role models to children very seriously and tried their best to live by this creed. It reads as follows:
- 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 all things change but truth, and that truth alone, lives on forever.
- In my Creator, my country, my fellow man.
The most updated version of The Lone Ranger comes out on July 3rd, and I can’t think of a better film to see which celebrates the 4th of July. The Lone Ranger is a special kind of film and I sincerely hope that Jerry Bruckheimer is able to do for the American western what he did for swashbuckling pirate films. If he does, then western values have a real chance at re-emerging in American culture.
It is about time that children learn clean speaking cowboys are not just playthings in a toy box like Woody was in Toy Story. The Lone Ranger is the original Woody, and I relish that the film is coming out around such a patriotic holiday, because the Lone Ranger is a uniquely American creation for a uniquely American audience that is being exported to every corner of the world by one of the largest and most successful companies in the world. It should go without saying that I will be seeing it at the earliest possible screening.
Now, one of the most heavily searched items on my site here at Overmanwarrior’s Wisdom for the last three months has been the question, “Is the William Tell Overture in the new Lone Ranger.” Well, for the answer, you can hear it from Han’s Zimmer himself.
Don Steinberg from The Wall Street Journal — Ok, so over to “The Lone Ranger.” And speaking of theme music: there’s probably never been any audible version of the Lone Ranger that didn’t use the William Tell Overture. Do you nod to that?
Hans Zimmer response – I was listening to a Billy Connolly quote, and he said the definition of an intellectual is if you can listen to the William tell Overture and not think of the Lone Ranger. Ok, we didn’t go the intellectual journey. We fully embraced the William Tell. Needless to say, we couldn’t leave well enough alone, so it has a little tweak. Actually it’s tweaked quite bit. I don’t know how long the Overture is — it depends on how fast you play it — but that Lone Ranger bit is two minutes long, at the most. And, as I found out, Mr. Rossini felt that was all he had to say. So there are some expansion opportunities. Plus, needless to say, they don’t hire me just to orchestrate Rossini. They want a bit of my dirty fingerprints all over it.
Read the whole interview here:
………………………………….YES! I am damn happy to not call myself an intellectual by the way that Billy Connolly coins the term. For me, the William Tell Overture is what the Lone Ranger is all about. CLICK HERE FOR MORE. Enjoy the movie!