Fans of the Lone Ranger and Tonto fondly remember Clayton Moore, John Hart and Jay Silverheels from the TV series. And some even recall
the original radio series starring Brace Beemer. However, few people
realize the Masked Man and Tonto were well
portrayed in several
significant celluloid efforts prior to World War II.
In the late 1930s, the American public had basically two forms of entertainment
--- radio and movies. The Lone Ranger, that daring and resourceful masked
rider of the plains, had become a favorite of radio audiences, young and old.
Republic Pictures recognized the value of this hero, and in 1938, released THE LONE RANGER, a cliffhanger that ran for fifteen nailbiting episodes
at the Saturday movie matinee. The serial used an interesting twist to keep the
audience guessing, and returning next week after week --- five Texas Rangers
shared hero duties, but only one of them would be revealed as the Lone Ranger.
So popular was the first serial, a sequel was completed and released in 1939,
and was aptly titled THE LONE RANGER RIDES AGAIN.
Bringing radio heroes to the screen was a normal occurrence during this
period, and serials were often the vehicle. In addition to the Lone Ranger
above, some examples of this include Columbia'sTHE SHADOW
and Universal's two GREEN HORNET serials.