On the lighter side of radio drama was The Lone Ranger. The introduction used the rousing Gioacchino Rossini's William Tell Overture. The origin of the Lone Ranger was not explained in the first episode. In the 20th anniversary episode, the origin of the Lone Ranger is explained this way: The Lone Ranger was part of a Texas Rangers posse that was tracking the Butch Cavandish gang. The gang ambushed the Rangers and only one Ranger survived; his name was John Reid. Reid was found by an American Indian, named Tonto, whom Reid had saved during his childhood. Reid and his older brother Dan, who was the leader of the posse, co-owed a silver mine. The mine was the source of the Lone Ranger's income and the ore was the source for the Lone Ranger's signature silver bullets. The Lone Ranger did not drink alcohol, used proper grammar, and his word was his bond.
The radio show premiered on an independent Detroit radio station, WXYZ, and seven other stations in the Michigan Radio Network on January 31, 1933, and aired three times a week. The program was created at WXYZ which needed programming since the station's owner, George W. Trendle, had decided not to renew its C.B.S. network affiliation. As the the number of stations airing the program grew, the network of stations became the Mutual Broadcasting System.
The Lone Ranger was played by various performers in its early days. From May 1933 to April 1941, The Lone Ranger was played by Earle Graser. For the program's Brace Beemer played the Lone Ranger for 13 years, from April 1941 until the radio show ended in September 1954. John Todd (the stage name for Fred McCarthy) was Tonto, the Ranger's "faithful Indian companion."
In the early 1970s, Murray Hill Records released a four record box set featuring episodes and some shorts, including the origin of the Lone Ranger. The reverse of the album cover provided a history of the Lone Ranger.
Click the image to the right to read the back cover of the box set.
The Lone Ranger made the successful transition to television. The program debuted on A.B.C. television September 15, 1949 and starred Clayton Moore, as the Lone Ranger, and Jay Silverheels, as Tonto. The TV show would air its last episode on September 12, 1957. A total of 221 episodes were produced. Between 1951 and 1953, John Hart was the masked man in 26 episodes.
Some interesting trivia: George W. Trendle and Fran Striker also created The Green Hornet. Britt Reid, the Green Hornet, was the son of Dan Reid. Dan Reid was the nephew of John Reid (also known as the Lone Ranger).
Fred Foy announced the opening of The Lone Ranger