​Almanac: The Lone Ranger's Clayton Moore

Clayton Moore as the Lone Ranger, in the classic TV series.

ABC

And now a page from our "Sunday Morning" Almanac: September 14th, 1914, exactly 100 years ago today . . . a thrilling day of yesteryear, as subsequent events would prove.

For that was the day Jack Carlton Moore was born in Chicago.

As a young man, Moore got work as a stuntman and a bit player in Hollywood under the stage name Clayton Moore.

And then in 1949 came Clayton Moore's big break: He was cast as the lead in the TV version of the radio serial, "The Lone Ranger."

Week after week in the 1950s, the Lone Ranger galloped into Baby Boomers' living rooms atop his fiery horse Silver, to the tune of "The William Tell Overture."

Together with his faithful Indian companion, Tonto, played by Jay Silverheels, the Lone Ranger led the fight for law and order in the early West . . . all according to a strict moral code meant to set an example for his young impressionable viewers.

After the series went off the air in 1957, Clayton Moore kept right on portraying the Lone Ranger -- mask and all -- in TV commercials and personal appearances.

And when the owner of the Lone Ranger series won a court order in 1979 barring Moore from appearing in public wearing that trademark mask, Moore sidestepped that by appearing in sunglasses instead.

Clayton Moore died of a heart attack in 1999 at the age of 85.

And this past week, the centennial of his birth was honored at a ceremony in Burbank, Calif., with a display of Lone Ranger memorabilia and an appearance by Clayton Moore's daughter, Dawn.

"I think my father's legacy is within the fan letters," she said. "They are from policemen, and from firemen, and teachers, all of whom have said that they chose a career in service because of his portrayal of this character."

So who was that old Western masked man,
Beloved in televised lore?
Just ask any serious Lone Ranger fan
And they'll tell you, of course: Clayton Moore.


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