Lone Ranger Director Ready to Ride?

LoneRanger_artAccording to Deadline.com, Gore Verbinski (PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END)  is considering signing up to direct Walt Disney Pictures THE LONE RANGER.

Verbinski worked well with Johnny Depp on the PIRATES films, and Depp (of part Native American background) is signed to play the Ranger’s faithful ally in the new version of the classic Western team of heroes.

THE LONE RANGER, created by Fran Striker for George W. Trendle’s WXYZ first aired  January 30, 1933, on the Detroit, Michigan radio station. It soon became a syndicated hit, then went to the Mutal Network. In later years it was carried on NBC’s “Blue Network”, which became ABC. The series ran until 1954.

The Ranger was played by George Seaton (later to direct MIRACLE ON 34th Street), Earle W. Graser, and Brace Beemer. Graser, who was killed in a car accident, was the only actor who could do the Lone Ranger’s cry of “Hi-yo, Silver!” to everyone’s satisfaction, and a recording of his redition was used for the finales of Beemer’s episodes, and later tracked into all the Lone Ranger live action televison series.

 Stage actor John Todd played Tonto in most of the radio shows, sometimes “doubling” as another character, often a British gentleman.

THE GREEN HORNET was originally a spin-off of THE LONE RANGER, with Britt Reid being the son of Dan Reid, nephew of the Ranger’s murdered elder brother.

Over the years, the Lone Ranger also appeared in novels, Big Little Books, comic books and newspaper strips.

LoneRanger_SerialIn 1938, Rebuplic Pictures produced THE LONG RANGER serial, in which “Chief Thundercloud”  (Victor Daniels, a Native American actor) played Tonto, while dimunitive but deep-voice actor Billy Bechtler dubbed the voice of the Lone Ranger. Onscreen, the Lone Rager was played by several different actors and stuntman Yakima Canutt,  as the identity of the Ranger was a mystery; he was posing as one of a group of Texas Rangers.  I won’t spoil that little riddle. The mystery angle worked because the Lone Ranger wore a mask that covered the entire face. 

In 1939, they released THE LONE RANGER RIDES AGAIN, in which Robert Livingston played The Lone Ranger, posing as a cowboy named Bill Andrews, Billy Betchler again dubbed the voice of the Ranger, while Duncan Renaldo (THE CISCO KID) played a Mexican ally of the heroes.

THE LONE RANGER was one of the first TV series to be shot entirely on film, begining in 1949, and starring Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels. The show shot five seasons between `49 and `57. The 1952 season saw Moore replaced by John Hart, who had played radio hero Jack Armstrong in a Columbia movie serial. Clayton Moore would return for the fourth and fifth season, the final year shot in color.

Moore and Silverheels also starred in two color feature films, THE LONE RANGER (1956) and THE LONG RANGER AND THE CITY OF GOLD (1958).

Cartoon series Lone Rangers would include Michael Rye, who played Jack Armstrong on radio (and voiced Green Lantern on SUPERFRIENDS), and William Conrad (billed as Jay Darnoc).

THE LEGEND OF THE LONE RANGER (1981) starred Klinton Spilsbury and the Ranger, with Michael Horse as Tonto. Christopher Llyod (STAR TREK III) played the villain Butch Cavendish. Spilsbury’s voice was dubbed by James Keach in this ambitous misfire.

Lone_Ranger_comicThe WB Network attempted a reboot of the Lone Ranger in 2003, garnering mostly derision from critics and fans of the character.

Hopefully, Disney’s version will be a respectful update of the hero, perhaps similar to the new comic books from Dynamite Entertainment. 

As announcer Fred Foy used to urge on radio and televison: “Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear — The Lone Ranger Rides Again!”

 

About the Author

Tom Powers

Tom Powers was Editor of Starlog.com from 2005-2008. He's been involved in independent filmmaking, voice acting, and also writes fiction and fact-based articles elsewhere as Thomas V. Powers.

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