Monday, December 3, 2007

Western Week (Part I): The Lone Ranger

Welcome to my first western theme week! I certainly do love me some westerns; whether it's presented in movies, comics, pulp novels, or just playing some cowboys and Indians as a kid. Hey, even some of that country & western music ain't all that bad! So join me each day this week as we take a fond look at how the western genre has contributed to pop culture ..... starting off with a hearty "Hi-Yo-Silver!"

The Lone Ranger is a masked, Texas Ranger in the American Old West, who gallops about righting injustices, usually with the aid of a clever and laconic Native American sidekick called Tonto, and his horse Silver. He would famously say "Hi-yo Silver, away!" to get the horse to gallop. On the original radio and TV-series, the opening announcement was:

"A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust, and a hearty, "Hi-yo-Silver!" The Lone Ranger"

In later episodes the opening narration ended with the catch phrase "Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear.... The Lone Ranger Rides Again!" Episodes usually ended with one of the characters lamenting the fact that they never found out the hero's name ("Who was that masked man?"), only to be told, "Why, he's the Lone Ranger!" as he and Tonto ride away. The famed theme music was the "cavalry charge" finale of Gioacchino Rossini's William Tell Overture, now inseparably associated with the series, which also featured many other classical selections as incidental music including Wagner, Mendelssohn, Liszt, and Tchaikovsky.

The Lone Ranger first premiered in 1933 on the Mutual Broadcasting Network and continued until 1954, but a more well known and influential adaptation of the Lone Ranger was the (1949-1957) television series starring Clayton Moore (pictured; above) and Jay Silverheels as Tonto. A comic book adaptation also ran from 1948 until 1975; through two different publishers. Additional comics versions have appeared sporadically since then.

Trivia: Another popular cult hero, The Green Hornet, spun out of the Ranger's mythos as the modern Hornet (Britt Reid) is the descendant of Lone Ranger, Dan Reid.


Rob said...

See Tonto and the "Good Indian" for some thoughts on the subject.

Chuck Wells said...

For me (and I believe alot of other "kids" from those years), Tonto was a vital part of the Lone Ranger series. Less a companion and more of a partner, in my view.

I agree with much of what is said or written about such stereotyping [in hindsight], but that mindset can also diminish the impact made by ethnic actors or characters in changing our culture for the better.

Thanks for reading and posting this link.