The Lone Ranger

Aug 22, 2020

Webmaster's Note: For Cappy's personal "take" on The Lone Ranger see Cappy's Corner, 6/16/16

We grew up not long after the invention of Television and the beginning of so many wonderful TV shows.  

 

The first televised Western series was “The Lone Ranger”, which was on air from 1949 through 1957.  It was my first favorite TV show.  It held that rank until Perry Mason came along, in 1957.  The Masked Man had 221 episodes; while Perry Mason had 50 more episodes.  

 

Both of these shows featured a lot of character actors.  The Lone Ranger, because it was a TV pioneer, also featured a lot of actors who would later became prominent in other TV shows.

 

Because of the wonderful websites IMDB (Internet Movie Data Base) and Wikipedia and my love of old TV shows (and having a lot of time on my hands), I have been studying the various cast members of The Lone Ranger.  Thanks also to “Western Clippings” and Boyd Magers for the wonderful colored movie photos I have included.

 

To begin with, there were only two regular characters on The Lone Ranger—The Masked Man and his Indian sidekick.  They were played by Jack Carlton Moore and Harold J. Smith.  Recognize those names?  Both actors were athletes.  Moore was a circus acrobat and Smith was a Canadian lacrosse star, who had the nickname “Silver Heels”.  How many people know that lacrosse is one of the two national sports of Canada?

 

Clayton Moore 

Clayton Moore Picture

 

Smitty-LOL, a full-blooded Canadian Mohawk, didn’t drop his family name until after he became an actor, around the same time Moore changed his first name to Clayton.

 

Jay Silverheels 

Jay Silverheels Picture

 

Digressing a bit……….my favorite movie genre is Film Noir.  Jay had a small role in “Key Largo” (1948), one of my favorites.

 

Silverheels appeared in 217 episodes of “The Lone Ranger”.  Moore appeared in only 169 episodes, sitting out a couple years, allegedly in a contract dispute.

 

John Hart performed in 54 episodes, with 52 of them as the Masked Man.  He also had two appearances on Perry Mason.

 

John Hart 

John Hart Picture

 

There was one additional semi-regular character on the Lone Ranger.  Chuck Courtney played Dan Reid, the nephew of the Lone Ranger.  He was portrayed as a college student from back East, in 14 episodes.  Here’s where it gets to be more fun.  The fictional Dan Reid had a son, named Brit Reid.  Brit Reid was the Green Hornet!  These characters were owned by George Trendle and Fran Striker who created the two radio shows which predated the two TV series.

 

Chuck Courtney

Chuck Courtney

 

One actor appeared in 15 episodes---Lane Bradford.  Bradford was a tough guy/bad guy in several hundred TV shows and movies.  He also appeared in two episodes of Perry Mason.  

 

Lane Bradford is about to slug Monte Hale with his gunbutt while Monte struggles with another badman in the scene card from "The Old Frontier".

 

“The Lone Ranger” featured a lot of these “bad guys” that are easily recognizable, but not always easily named.

 

Mickey Simpson was a hulking guy in 13 episodes.  His biggest movie role was in “Giant”.  He portrayed the bigoted diner owner who beat up Rock Hudson.

 

Mickey Simpson played mostly the bad guy in many westerns. Ford Stock, John Ford, Cowboy Girl, Cowboy Hats, 9 Film, Western Movies, Best Actor, Famous Faces, Western Wear

 

John Cason also was in 13 episodes.  His bio indicates he was considered one of the toughest guys in the movie business.  He was a Marine in WWII.  He also served as a stunt man and performed all of the stunts for Bill Williams, in “The Adventures of Kit Carson”.  Things get interesting again here.  Bill Williams was married for 46 years to Barbara Hale…….Della Street on Perry Mason! 

 

JohnLCarson.jpg

John Cason

 

 

 

John Doucette, one of my all-time favorite character actors, was in 11 episodes.  Gruff voiced.  He had an uncredited role in “High Noon”.  My dad used to say that Doucette was either a western bad guy or a Navy Captain.  Very fitting that tough guy Doucette would be from Brockton, Massachusetts, the hometown of a lot of very tough men (Rocky Marciano, Marvin Hagler, Al Davis, and Notre Dame Football Star Ken McAfee).

 

Charles Starrett gets the drop on Clayton Moore and John Doucette, "The Bandits of El Dorado" ('49 Columbia).

 

This is a great photo………………because the mustachioed Clayton Moore is not masked!  Doucette looks quite young and not so rough.  Charles Starrett, a Dartmouth man who retired very wealthy, portrayed one of my favorite stars of Western B Movies—The Durango Kid.

 

 

Mike Ragan was a tough guy in 9 episodes.  His original name was Holly Bane, which doesn’t sound quite as tough.   Since he once worked in the make-up department of a studio, the name would have been OK there.

 

Mike Ragan Picture

 

 

 

 

Nan Leslie was the lady in the most episodes (8).  The Lone Ranger spent a lot of episodes helping out the schoolmarm and other women trying to make it in a man’s world (newspaper and ranch owners, and the like).

 

Nan Leslie Picture

 

 

Glenn Strange………better known as Kitty’s bartender on “Gunsmoke” played Butch Cavendish, the outlaw gang leader who ambushed and wiped out a group of Texas Rangers, leaving only one lone severely wounded Ranger to be nursed back to health by his future faithful Indian Companion.  

 

Lawman Glenn Strange and jailer Bob McKenzie put a hold on Bob Baker, "The Singing Cowboy".

 

James Griffith, UCLA grad and WWII Marine, and one of my favorite character actors, was in 7 episodes.  He played Claude Stroup in the greatest “Dragnet” episode of all time, “The Big Little Jesus”.  Keep lots of Kleenex handy when you watch it.  Griffith also wrote (“Lorna”) a light-porn movie.  Had to include this just to spice up my research.

 

James Griffith Picture

 
 

 

https://travsd.files.wordpress.com/2018/11/1200px-lorna_poster.jpg?w=699&h=1024

 

Denver Pyle appeared in 7 episodes.  Hard to imagine that anyone was in more TV shows than he was, during a 50 year career.  He was in 6 episodes of Perry Mason.

 

Denver Pyle Picture

Douglas Kennedy appeared in 6 episodes.  I have to include him because whenever he appeared in anything on TV, Mr. J. Vincent Elmer, who I had for four years of Latin in high school, would point out that he and Kennedy were classmates at Amherst.   

 

 

Douglas Kennedy-actor.jpg

 

(Isaac) Stanford Jolly was in 5 episodes.  Great face.  Sinister.  According to Boyd Magers, Jolly’s more than 300 roles would best be described as the “Dress Heavy”, meaning the well-dressed guy who bossed the ruffians.  A similar version of this was the “Brains Heavy”, who would hold a seemingly respectable position, like banker, while actually being in charge of the bad guys.

 

I. Stanford Jolley.

 

There are so many wonderful other character actors, but this email would be longer than “War and Peace” if I wrote on all of them, so I am hurrying along with some summary info.

 

Both Lois Lane’s, from “The Adventures of Superman”, one of my other favorite shows when I was a kid, were in episodes of The Lone Ranger.  These glam photos are unlike the roles they portrayed, while competing with mild-mannered Clark Kent for stories.

 

Noel Neill 

  Noel Neill Picture

 

Phyllis Coates

Phyllis Coates Picture

 

 

Two great actors famous for commercials—

 

The Loneliest Man in the World, from Maytag commercials.  I handled a stalking case of his, in the early 1980’s.

 

Jesse White

Jesse White Picture

Robert Bice, who played “Frank Faulkner” the top operative in Paul Drake’s Detective Agency (from Perry Mason), but also was the Greyhound Bus Driver who exclaimed, “Leave the driving to us”.

 

Image result for robert bice imdb

Later TV stars who had bit parts---

 

John Beradino (4), USC man and former Major League infielder, who played Dr. Steve Hardy, on “General Hospital” from its inception in 1963, until his death in 1996.

 

John Beradino 

John Beradino Picture

 

 

Gail Davis (4), one of the loveliest ladies I have ever known—my neighbor in L.A.  Starred as “Annie Oakley”.  Wrote me a lovely letter when I told her I was moving away from Los Angeles.  She said she felt “very safe” with me in the neighborhood.  She also told me she rooted for ND, after they hired Lou Holtz because “I’m an Arkie and he used to coach our team”.

 

Gail Davis 

Gail Davis Picture

 

Beverly Garland was not long after Davis as a gun-toting woman with her own TV show.  She played an undercover cop in a series called “Decoy”.  She owned the Beverly Garland Hotel, a short walk from my home in Studio City.  After I moved away, my best friend and I would often stay there when we visited Los Angeles.

Beverly Garland 

Beverly Garland Picture

 

Lee Van Cleef (3), began as a bad guy character actor and ended up as one of the kings of Spaghetti Westerns.

 

Lee Van Cleef 

Lee Van Cleef Picture

 

Ironically, Jack Elam was another grisly-looking, long time bad guy (who could have been Lee’s evil twin), made a transition from western thug to comedy parts.  Both were in “High Noon”, Lee as one of the Frank Miller gang and Elam in an uncredited role as the town drunk, let out of jail by Gary Cooper.  Elam was also in the terrific opening scene of the GREATEST Western of All Time---“Once Upon a Time in the West”.  Elam’s name was used as the example of the “stages” of being an actor:

  • Stage 1: "Who is Jack Elam?"
  • Stage 2: "Get me Jack Elam."
  • Stage 3: "I want a Jack Elam type."
  • Stage 4: "I want a younger Jack Elam."
  • Stage 5: "Who is Jack Elam?"

Jack Elam in "Once Upon a Time in the West" Sergio Leone, Dir. Jack Elam, Derek Hale, Vintage Hollywood, Classic Hollywood, Cow Girl, Teen Wolf, Sergio Leone, Tv Westerns, The Lone Ranger

Learn more at netflixcommunity.ning.com

The rest of the Frank Miller gang were also in “The Lone Ranger”, including Ian McDonald, who played Frank Miller.

 

Ian MacDonald.

 

These guys were in one episode each……….

 

Craig Stevens-“Peter Gunn”……what a great show that was!

Hugh Beaumont-The father of “The Beaver”.

Marion Ross-Mother of Richie Cunningham, on “Happy Days”.

James Arness-“Matt Dillon”!  In this episode he played a deputy sheriff who was a bit of a dandy.  

Martin Milner-“Route 66” and “Adam 12” and many movies, including “Sands of Iwo Jima”, Directed by Alan Dwan, ND QB from more than 40 years earlier.

Guy Williams-“Zorro” and “Lost in Space”.  

Dennis Weaver-Loved him in “McCloud” and as Matt Dillon’s sidekick, Chester Good.

Michael Ansara had the perfect look to play Cochise, which he did in the TV series “Broken Arrow”.  What Tribe was he from?  He was Lebanese, born in Syria.  LOL.  BTW, I once consulted on a week-long study of the Cochise County (AZ) Sheriff’s Department.  Ansara was married to Barbara Eden for 16 years.  That would have been a dream of many a young man had they a Genie back then.

 

Michael Ansara 

Michael Ansara Picture

 

 

Long-time regulars on other shows………….

 

The heart-throb Mr. Boynton, from “Our Miss Brooks”

 

Robert Rockwell 

Robert Rockwell Picture

 

 

Sheb Wooley played Scout Pete Nolan, on “Rawhide”.  He also sang “Purple People Eater”.  He played Ben Miller, one of the four bad guys after Marshal Will Cane, in “High Noon”.

Sheb Wooley Picture

 

Robert J. Wilke 

Robert J. Wilke Picture

 

Also in the Frank Miller gang.

 

John Banner………….. “I know nothing”, Sgt. Schultz, from “Hogan’s Heroes”.  He was an Austrian-born Jew.

 

John Banner 

John Banner Picture

 

Robert Horton, Scout Flint McCullough, on Wagon Train.

 

Robert Horton 

Robert Horton Picture

 

I also loved those guys who were in every TV show imaginable, but nobody ever knew their name.  These three guy fits that type:

 

Whit Bissell 

Whit Bissell Picture

 

Tris Coffin

Tristram Coffin Picture

 
 

 

Percy Helton

 

Percy Helton

Percy Helton.jpg

Helton in Criss Cross (1949), a great film noir movie

 

There were hundreds more…………..but I must stop sometime…………..

 

Final editorial comment……these shows were made for peanuts without all of the technology we have today…..yet I far prefer them to what we currently have on TV.

 

Go Irish!


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