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Having enjoyed reading your
can't take that away from me... I
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year, don't just read a best-seller ... Write
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more testimonials ...
Great newsletter -
originally found this site after searching for
clarification on a contentious
point amongst work colleagues. Just had to look at old
issues and now look forward to Fridays (Juliet Wallace,
Fran Striker -
script writer for the Lone Ranger serials
(details from an article by J.
Fran Striker was a free-lance script writer from
Buffalo, who had done a series called Warner Lester, Manhunter, which
WXYZ had already used and liked. On the strength of it, owner, George Trendle, telephoned
Striker and told him what he had in mind for his new Western drama serial. Striker took it from there.
The Lone Ranger's Appearance
Striker began by visualizing the Ranger as just over six feet tall and weighing
around 190 pounds - a good working build for a Western hero. Such a man, riding
a super-horse with silver shoes, would naturally have the finest possible
equipment; ivory-handled guns, for instance. The silver shoes reminded Striker
of a former series in which he had identified Robin Hood by silver-tipped arrows, so he gave the Ranger silver bullets for the same purpose.
Bullets and shoes dictated the super-horse's name: Silver.
As a final identification, Striker groped around
for a special call that the Ranger could use when he wanted Silver to come or to
gallop off, "Yippy!" and "Git-up!" were commonplace.
Besides, the last syllable had to be a long one, so that the actor could sustain
it, "Hi-Yi, Silver! Awa-a-ay!" was close to the idea; Striker wasn't
satisfied with it, but he let it go through.
The signature to the first script was: "Come along, Silver! ... That's the
boy! ... Hi-yi! (hearty laugh) ... Now cut loose, and awa-a-ay! (Hoofs pounding
harder and fade-out)."
Striker's Ranger was a happy-go-lucky swashbuckler who laughed at the
discomfited crooks as he rode off. Trendle saw him as a sterner character,
"the embodiment," in his own phrase, "of granted prayer." So
presently all suggestions of humour were erased; the Ranger never smiled again.
Trendle didn't like the "Hi-yi," either. For days after the unofficial
broadcast, the staff galloped around the studio shouting "Hi-Yo!" and
"Hi-Yi!" History does not preserve the name of the genius who finally
The Arrival of Tonto
In order to develop the plots, the Lone Ranger
needed someone to talk to and someone who could ferret out evidence of
wrongdoing and present it for action. In other words, he needed a
Striker knew that the kids who were the target
audience wouldn't stand for any of the
"mushy stuff" that went with a female off-sider, so his solution was to create a loyal Indian
companion. For a name, he went back to another of his old serials, a mystery
which had featured a semi-savage named Gobo. He juggled the vowels around with a
fresh set of consonants, and that's how Tonto was born.
The Wholesome Nature of the Scripts
Striker's script conventions were based on simple
psychology and common sense.
None of the
dramatic action could have occurred in the home. Indians might attack, cattle
stampede, a bridge might collapse, but there was never a prowler.
handicaps were mentioned only when they were vital to the plot and then only
briefly. Striker said he always pictured a person similarly handicapped listening to the
program in company - if he thought that person might be embarrassed or
uncomfortable with what was presented, he cut it out of the script.
It goes without saying that the Ranger didn't drink, gamble or smoke. Villains
sometimes did; they could also shoot to kill, but the actual killing was never dramatized.
Either the shot came at the end of a scene, or it was immediately followed by a
burst of music.
Villains were allowed to snarl, "You rat!" (or "snake," or
"polecat"), but neither the Ranger nor Tonto ever used such language!
With one eye on the possibility of lawsuits,
villains were never given surnames - so they had to take turns with Muggsy, Butch, Scar, Slim, Pete and Lefty.
The morning after Striker had some Mexicans raid
an American farm, he got a sharp protest from the Mexican consul in Detroit.
Thereafter all villains were Americans or, as a compromise, half-breeds. Here,
too, a form reply soothed irate patriots: "One criminal is never considered
representative of his race or races."
When the station repeated a number of episodes on the Ranger's sixth
anniversary, the Ranger and Tonto were together when they found Silver in
the first episode. In the second, the Ranger was riding Silver when he met Tonto.
No one noticed the blunder.
Another that slipped by was "Hark! I hear a
white horse coming!"
The oddest blunder of all seems to have startled
the audience too much to question it: the screech of an automobile siren was
heard right in mid-program. Tonto, resting between scenes, had put his
feet up on a horn box used in the previous program.
Striker's Literary Output
Striker wrote 60,000 words a week every week - the equivalent of the Bible every
three months. The cumulative birth pangs of the 10,000 different characters he
has spawned shattered four typewriters.
His 156 Lone Ranger scripts a year, plus 365 Lone Ranger cartoon strips, plus
twelve Lone Ranger novels, plus editing the movie versions, plus his tremendous
correspondence, account for two thirds of his output. He also wrote 104 Green
Hornet scripts and fifty-two Ned Jordan, Secret Agent scripts a year for WXYZ.
His working day was fourteen hours and he was paid $10,000 a year, or around a
third of a cent a word.
Inspired to Write?
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of a cent per word for your writing, browse through the Writers'
Help pages now.
Your Favourite Episode or Aspect of the Lone
Tell us about your favourite part of the Lone
Ranger serials - was it the music, the characters, the corny plots or the fact
that you were a carefree kid when you watched it that made the Lone Ranger so
here to add your memories!
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