The Lone Ranger - a Celebration
"A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust, and a hearty Hi-Yo, Silver! The Lone Ranger! With his faithful Indian companion, Tonto, the daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains led the fight for law and order in the early West. Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear... The Lone Ranger rides again!"
It was on the 30 January 1933 that the Lone Ranger first rode across our imaginations on his white horse, Silver, inviting listeners to return to those thrilling days of yesteryear.
What is it about these serial heroes, the Lone Ranger, the Green Hornet, Superman, Spiderman, the Phantom?
Why do we remember them?
Why Do You Remember the Lone Ranger?
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It's ironic that the Lone Ranger, the hero who's still so fondly remembered by millions around the world as an idealist - fighting to rid the West of outlaws - was created as a carefully calculated way to save an ailing radio station and make money.
Recommend this article to others interested in the Lone Ranger and check for more recommendations here ...
A Hero is Created
According to Who Was That Masked Man? The Story of the Lone Ranger by David Rothel (1981), George W. Trendle had acquired radio station WXYZ in Detroit in 1929. This was at the start of the Great Depression, when the economy was nose-diving, so Trendle had to think of a way of keeping his station afloat.
The following information is taken from an article by J.Brian III that appeared in The Saturday Evening Post on October 14, 1939:
Trendle came up with the basic idea for a Western
with a hero who embodied the qualities of Zorro and Robin Hood.
He settled on a drama as the format, but what kind of drama --for adults or
kids? He opted for kids, because they're less critical, and therefore the
program need not be so expensive or elaborate. Besides, Trendle believed that
most parents buy advertised products because their kids coax them into it.
The Lone Ranger Emerges
The Arabian was rejected on the grounds that it was too small, but the idea of the white horse became part of the Lone Ranger's image. Trendle also liked the idea of the white horse because he knew it would remind children of the kids' superstition of licking your thumb and stamping the palm of your hand whenever you saw a white horse.
Staff at the radio station then sat down and made up the Lore of the Lone Ranger:
Fran Striker was the writer responsible for developing the story lines and he thought he remembered that Robin Hood had silver tipped arrows, so he introduced the idea of the silver bullet and then built the mystique around the colour silver.
It was also Striker who wrote the Lone Ranger's Creed - the words that formed the basis of the Masked man's appeal. Who doesn't want to be like the Lone Ranger - having the power to make the world a better place; believing in the value of friendship and that "truth alone, lives on forever"?
Striker had to guard against anachronisms for instance, when blasting came into the plot of one of his earlier stories he had to refer to blasting powder, not dynamite.
Read more about Fran Striker here.
The first episode went to air on 30 January 1933 and quickly became popular, being taken up by stations around the country.
Initially the show was heard over WXYZ, and later, on the Michigan Regional Network. By the mid-1930s, the show was also running on Chicago's WGN and New York's WOR. That trio of stations (WOR-WGN-WXYZ) became the Mutual Broadcasting Network. Soon after, the Lone Ranger series was picked up by the Don Lee Network in California.
One of the best features of the show was the sound
effects. To represent galloping horses, the men stamped ordinary bathroom plungers
into a trough of sand or gravel, according to the terrain. Every studio has had
trouble imitating a gunshot; even a cap pistol would almost break the
microphone. WXYZ's solution was so good that NBC sent an expert out to
investigate it: They smacked a leather cushion with a cane.
There were ten such promises in all. When the child and one of its parents had signed the card, the Ranger sent a notification of membership and a private code. Almost as an afterthought, he added this bait:
P.S.: Of course you will want a Lone Ranger Badge. To earn this beautiful badge, all you have to do is have three of your neighbors who do not now use (.....) regularly promise to buy (.....) on their next trip to the food store. I am enclosing a card which I want you to return to me when it is filled out.By December seventh, six weeks after the campaign had started, 475,574 badges had been distributed; by early January, 535,495. The total in 1939 was more than 2,000,000. In addition, half a million masks were given away and 2,000,000 "photographs" of the Ranger (these were photographs of an idealized oil painting).
Much of the Ranger's mail was from children angrily declaring that a certain member was not eating the sponsor's bread or had revealed the code (read A for B, B for C, and so on). One frantic father had to wire WFIL for the code. His son had sent him an important letter--so important that he did not dare trust it to the mails uncoded.
A series of short films were then made (starting production in 1937) and were shown at the Saturday matinees throughout the US and overseas.
A television series and then spin-off cartoons and comic books followed, meaning that the Lone Ranger became accessible to generations of people around the world. Children tuned in to the Lone Ranger with their parents and then with their own grandchildren - such was the popularity of the character.
If you think you have an idea for a series that could become as successful as The Lone Ranger, but don't have the confidence in your writing skills, relax.
BOOKMARK this page, then start exploring:
Lone Ranger Sites
http://www.geocities.com/TelevisionCity/7286/index2.html - if you missed the very first episode, you can read all about it here. Find out how the Lone Ranger got his name; how he met Tonto; why he decided to dedicate his life to ridding the west of outlaws and the significance of his mask.
http://www.surfnetinc.com/chuck/triolost.htm - fascinating insight into the politics behind the shows
http://www.pazsaz.com/loner.html - if you're too young to remember the radio, Saturday matinee or television versions, you might remember the cartoon series
http://members.tripod.com/~ClaytonMoore/ - this page is a tad wide (!!) but has some great old posters to bring back plenty of memories
http://www.pathfinder.com/photo/week/0915.htm - a Time Life 'Picture of the Week'
http://www.alltimevideo.com/l_ranger.html - buy your very own copies of some of the television episodes
http://www.cowboypal.com/lnrgr.html - listen to some of your favourite episodes and watch a video to learn how the Lone Ranger got the name "Kemo Sabe"
http://users.ticnet.com/mlargent/LR1.html - one of the many tribute pages on the Net, that prove that the Lone Ranger touched a chord in many people
http://www.goldenbooks.com/about/properties/ranger.html - some snippets of information about the series
Copyright 2009 Jennifer Stewart Write101.com