On this day in 1957, “The Lone Ranger” closed out a five-season television run with a cloud of dust and a hearty “Hi-Yo Silver, Away!”
“The Lone Ranger” starred Clayton Moore as a Texas Ranger who survived an ambush. Tonto, played by Jay Silverheels, finds the injured Texas Ranger and becomes his partner. The Lone Ranger would put on a mask, wear it to protect his identity, and fight crime.
The show’s final original episode aired on June 6, 1957, on ABC. In “Outlaws in Greasepaint,” two actors are behind a string of robberies. They think that they’ll be OK in Cedar Springs, but they’ve never crossed paths with The Lone Ranger. Tom Brown and Mary Ellen Kay play the actors in the show.
It was one of TV’s first successful westerns. But “Gunsmoke” started running on CBS in 1955 and it would eclipse Moore’s show.
‘The Lone Ranger’ Went Through Major Cast Change For One Season
“The Lone Ranger” ran for five seasons on ABC yet it was spread out across nine years. The TV western first appeared in the 1949-50 and 1950-51 seasons with Moore in the lead role. John Hart replaced Moore for the 1952-53 season. But viewers wanted Moore and not Hart. From 1954-57, Moore put the mask back on and stayed on the show.
Silverheels played Tonto through the show’s entire 217 episodes on ABC. “The Lone Ranger” would become the network’s first big hit on television. It finished at No. 7 in the ratings after the 1949-50 season. The show stayed in the top 30 through the next two seasons.
Viewers always heard the “William Tell Overture” at the beginning of each episode. “The Lone Ranger” was one of those shows which moved from success on radio to TV. George Trendle was the creative producer behind the show. He also would be behind creating “The Green Hornet,” another show that moved from radio to TV as well. Moore died on Dec. 28, 1999, at 85 years old. Silverheels died on March 5, 1980, at 67 years old.
Clayton Moore Played Character For Years After TV Show Ended
While Hart did play the lead role for one season, classic TV fans clearly identify Moore as The Lone Ranger.
Years after the show ended its network run but continued gaining fans with reruns, Moore would go out and attend autograph shows. He would make public appearances dressed up as his TV character. People would love to get their pictures made with him or even an autograph.
In talking about this show, it might be worth listening to one of the most amazing stories told about Moore. Actor-comedian Jay Thomas was known for years to make a Christmas season visit to “Late Show with David Letterman” on CBS. Thomas died on Aug. 24, 2017, at 69 years old.
Thomas would come on the show and tell a story from his radio days involving himself and Moore. It was a treat to hear him retell this same story year after year. Here’s Thomas telling Letterman and the show’s viewers about his brush with greatness in Clayton Moore.