The picture of the Wild West painted by Hollywood may be grossly inaccurate, but it remains beloved. In fact, many of the movie posters, magazines, and film stills depicting characters such as the Lone Ranger, Hopalong Cassidy, and the Singing Cowboy are in demand precisely for the sanitized picture they paint of the West. The real thing was either too dull, too violent, or both.

The Lone Ranger actually got his start on radio, debuting in 1933 of Detroit’s WXYZ. Inspired by Zorro and Robin Hood, the Lone Ranger was voiced in those early years by a number of actors, from George Stenius to Brace Beemer. Tonto, a Powatomie Indian who saves young John Reid (he'd been left for dead by a band of outlaws), was voiced by John Todd. Lone Ranger magazines soon followed and by 1938, Republic Pictures distributed the first 15 Lone Ranger serials, with Lee Powell in the saddle atop his horse, Silver, and Victor Daniels (credited as “Chief Thunder-Cloud”) as Tonto. Another 15 episodes followed in 1939, with Robert Livingston in the title role. After World War II, Clayton Moore took over the roll for the Lone Ranger television series.


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