Every legend starts somewhere, and "The Lone Ranger" found its beginnings with Clayton Moore. The lone survivor that fought the good fight became a character that left a lasting impression for decades to come.
"The Lone Ranger" captured imaginations and swept viewers into a Western world where the masked vigilante came out as the hero against the outlaws of the Wild West in each episode.
THE DYNAMIC DUO
The television series appealed to both children and adults, and ABC hit the jackpot by casting Clayton Moore as the title character with Jay Silverheels as his sidekick, Tonto.
Clayton's acting in "Ghost of Zorro" caught the network's eye, and in 1949, he and Jay Silverheels made their debut in the show's pilot episode.
Soon the duo's catchphrase of "Hi-Yo Silver, away!" bellowed out after saving the day each week became hugely popular, and so did the series. ABC had landed its first hit series that turned into the highest-rated show on television during the early 1950s.
CLAYTON INITIALLY LEFT THE SHOW
However, behind the scenes, Clayton faced another challenge as he allegedly disputed his contract, which led to ABC pulling him from the show.
Clayton refuted the rumours in his biography, "I Was That Masked Man," but the situation caused him to be replaced with John Hart, who ended up playing the role of the former Texas Ranger for 52 episodes.
Since the lone ranger always had his mask on, the network thought viewers wouldn't notice the switch, but Clayton returned in 1954 to continue his fight for justice in the Wild West until the series ended in 1957.
CLAYTON REPRISED HIS ROLE
The show's massive success lead to the making of two films, wherein Clayton and Jay reprised their famous roles in "The Lone Ranger" a year before the series ended, and the second one, "The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold" in 1958.
Viewers found the masked vigilante appealing due to his crispy clean dress sense, his even crispier and polite demeanour, and impeccable grammar, but "The Lone Ranger" also accomplished an impressive feat with each episode.
HIS CHARACTER NEVER KILLED ANYONE
Despite carrying two six-shooters, the masked vigilante never missed a shot. It is said that he never killed anyone either since he possessed the uncanny ability to shoot a gun right out of an outlaw's hands.
Even though the series ended in the late 1950s, the well-liked legend of the masked man lived on and surpassed the life of the man that brought it to life, as Clayton Moore passed away on December 28, 1999, in Los Angeles, aged 85.
THE FAMOUS MASK
Four years after Clayton died from an apparent heart attack, the legend he created proved to just as popular as ever. Clayton always wore one of three custom face masks on the series, and when it ended, he took one of the masks with him and kept it until his death.
A private collector than acquired the mask, which went on auction in 2013. Julien's Auctions called the mask "hugely iconic," and therefore, they expected to get at least $50,000 for the custom item that became a "true part of popular culture."
However, "The Lone Ranger" became one of the first in a slew of popular Western series. After it ended, "Rawhide" took over the reins and eventually became CBS Network's longest-running Western television series.
The popular show that aired on Friday night for six years until 1966, also saw the rise of one of the most iconic actors of our time, Clint Eastwood - who became a star on the small and big screen.