Actor Clayton Moore played the beloved, mysterious Lone Ranger on TV (Man #1: “Who was that masked man? I wanted to thank him!” Man #2: “He doesn’t need your thanks! He’s the Lone Ranger!”) from 1949-1952 and 1953-1957 on TV and in two movies.
After the TV series ended, his character was still so revered, Moore began making 40 years of public appearances as the Lone Ranger. It was at one of those appearances (a remote broadcast for WDGY-Mpls/St. Paul, the station for which I worked at the time) at Minnesota’s Valley Fair Amusement Park in 1979, I first met Clayton.
He was one the nicest individuals with whom I have ever spend time! Interestingly, our appearance occurred during a period leading up to the production of a new feature film, “The Legend of the Lone Ranger.”
Jack Wrather, the film’s producer (also producer of the “Lassie” TV series) owned the rights to the character and prohibited Moore from wearing the Lone Ranger costume or mask. Moore got around the issue by varying his appearance enough to avoid legal conflict, including wearing a specially-equipped set of wrap-around sunglasses.
I enjoyed my time with Clayton Moore and the listeners who came by had fun talking with him too!
During our conversation he shared, over the time he played the character, he became enamored of the Lone Ranger Creed (originally written by creator Fran Stryker.) He noted it he loved its message and it became a code of conduct he strived to live by in his personal life. He said so in the margin of the picture by which he replied to the fan who had had given it to him.
One of Moore’s personal appearances in character became the basis of a story that actor Jay Thomas told every year around Christmas beginning in 2000 on The Late Show with David Letterman. Thomas was a radio disc jockey at the time in North Carolina and happened to be doing a show at a car dealership where Moore was appearing in character as The Lone Ranger. Moore had been stranded at the dealership, and Thomas offered him a ride back to his hotel.
If you’ve never seen it, it’s hilarious! And if you have, I don’t know how you can resist seeing it again!