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The Real Lone Ranger—At Auction

by Leonard Maltin
June 17, 2013 10:04 PM
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Dawn Moore, Clayton Moore’s daughter, today

I’m trying to keep an open mind about the upcoming Lone Ranger movie, but I can’t imagine what Dawn Moore must be feeling; Clayton Moore was her father. A devoted daughter, she has kept her father’s flame alive since his passing in 1999. Now, she has decided to part with a number of his personal Lone Ranger items, including two costumes crafted by Nudie’s Rodeo Tailors and another by famous Western designer Manuel, a Stetson hat, three pair of boots, and best of all, his Edward H. Bohlin double-holster gun rig. If you’ve never seen a Bohlin piece up close, I can tell you it’s pretty impressive. This one was custom designed with leather carving and inlaid silver pieces.

Dawn has lived with these pieces for years and feels that it’s time to pass them along to someone else who will care for them. I’m sure there will be no shortage of bidders at Brian Lebel’s Old West Auction on June 22. (For more details, click HERE) Millions of baby boomers like me grew up watching Clayton and Jay Silverheels as the Lone Ranger and Tonto on TV. I was among the lucky folks who got to know Clayton in later years and interviewed him on numerous occasions. He was a wonderful man who lived up to his public image and never disappointed a fan.

But his number one booster remains his daughter, who remembers how he shined his boots at home and used steam from a boiling kettle to block his hat. Dawn didn’t pursue a career in show business, but she’s never strayed too far from it in her work as a high-end retail manager and consultant for such prestigious firms as Harry Winston and Mikimoto. I’m sure she’s got some great stories about working with A-list stars as they prepared to walk the red carpet during award season. She’s also an interior designer and is about to launch an e-commerce marketplace devoted to vintage home décor. It’s called MixxCentury and it will be up and running next month. Her business partner happens to be another second-generation Hollywood survivor: Holly Palance, Jack’s daughter. 

Incidentally, Dawn not only looks after her father’s image; she is equally mindful of Jay Silverheels’ reputation. When she wrote a remembrance of him two years ago I asked if she would allow me to reprint it, and she did. You can read it HERE and I think you’ll find it quite moving.

Young Dawn Moore and her adoring Dad
My daughter Jessie was 7 when she posed with Clayton Moore at a Lone Ranger Festival in Lone Pine, California in 1993—the 60th anniversary of the character’s creation



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  • Robert Booth | June 29, 2013 10:59 PMReply

    I found this hidden away and thought someone would like to see The Lone Ranger we all love, and hear that all so familiar theme. This Lone Ranger didn't fly thru the air, gallop Silver across roof tops and onto speeding trains, and didn't have to rely on computer generated special effects. He just gave us down to Earth, wholesome, family fun entertainment, all, while teaching us right from wrong and became a role model to millions of us kids. What's so hard about doing that? Tonto looked like a civilized Indian and not some painted freak on drugs from the stone age, ready to go on the warpath.
    Google Lone Ranger theme-you tube, and select Oct 8, 2009
    3 minutes.

  • Robert Booth | June 25, 2013 10:59 AMReply

    DBENSEN asked on June 18 if Clayton's ban on wearing his mask was ever lifted. I have not seen a reply to this posted yet. So here is the answer to his question. Taken from one of the sites is this explanation.

    Moore counter-sued Wrather, hoping to regain the right to wear the mask again, but the proceedings carried on for many years until September 20, 1984, when, in a surprise move, Jack Wrather suddenly dropped the case. Although no official reason was given, Wrather died a month later, so it would seem the old man had a change of heart. On October 17, Moore's agent received a letter from Bonita Wrather, Jack's wife, that read, “please be advised that Wrather Corporation hereby grants to Clayton Moore the rights to wear the Lone Ranger mask.” Finally, the Lone Ranger could ride again.

    I might add, Clayton Moore was the Lone Ranger. I had talked to him back on July 4, 1966 when he visited Kennywood Park, in West Mifflin, Pa. We had talked prior to his stage show, when he was in street clothes sitting on a park bench in front of his pickup camper which he used at the time. As a bodyman, we had talked about why his paint was flaking off his aluminum camper. We had talked again in costume during the show when he was taking pictures with his fans. Those pictures are my treasure. Then again in Monroeville, Pa. in 1980, when he was restricted to sunglasses. He remembered the Kennywood visits, happily autographed the back of the pictures taken in 1966. A little older then, but still the same man, in or out of costume. A real gentleman, who will live on forever in the hearts of those who knew and loved him. The past 13 1/2 years have passed by so quickly. It seems like only yesterday he passed away.

  • Barry Rulnick | July 6, 2013 9:22 PM

    I remember seeing Clayton Moore at Kennywood before 1960. Mr. Moore was my hero.
    I believe it was around July 3, 1959, that I met the "Lone Ranger" and received a shiny silver ( plastic ) bullet. I miss that "silver" bullet.
    Unfortunately, in the mid-sixties, we had a fire in our Apartment Complex and lost everything.
    I think Superman( George Reeves) was also to appear at Kennywood around July 4, 1959.
    Unfortunately, Mr. Reeves died about 2 weeks prior to that scheduled appearance.
    Jay Silverheels (Tonto) may have also been at Kennywood with Mr. Moore. "Kimosabe", "Hi Ho Silver, Away!!!"
    I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Mr. Moore had his "mask" on when he was buried.
    May Clayton's Soul Rest in Peace!!
    You are surely missed.

  • Buck Helton | June 21, 2013 1:59 AMReply

    I thought you might like to read a tribute I wrote at the time of Clayton's passing...
    As I'm sure y'all have heard by now, we have lost
    another of our great Western heroes, Clayton Moore,
    best known as The Lone Ranger. From 1949-1957 He came
    riding into our living rooms every week on "a fiery
    horse with the speed of light, and a hearty Hi-ho
    Silver!" showing us all that while the good guys may
    not always be taken as such right off (how many times
    did the Ranger get arrested anyway?) they are always
    known by their actions. By his side was his faithful
    companion Tonto, who called him the name he himself
    was given by those he befriended, "Kemosabe" (this by
    the way does not mean companion,as many think, but
    rather is an honorific title of "Trusted Scout").
    Indians were not always well thought of in the Old
    West, but the Ranger showed us that there is good in
    every group of people if you will just look for it.
    Clayton Moore was so taken by the concept,and
    character of the Lone Ranger, that he never took
    another role as long as he lived. He became a
    Christian while the series was in production, and while
    no one could be as consistently good and noble as
    the Ranger in real life, Moore was inspired to use
    the image to influence future generations for good,
    as the Ranger would have done.
    In a 1976 interview, he said "I
    intend to be the Lone Ranger,until I'm called, and
    when I finally go to that big Ranch in the sky, I want
    people to say, who was that masked man?" Well, that
    call came today,December 28,1999. As for who he was,
    he was the idol of American youth (sorry Ranger Doug,
    but Brother Moore was there first!) and the living
    embodiment of all that is good in the American spirit,
    a walking version of Psalm 73. and a Hero in the
    highest sense of the word.
    Until our trails cross yonder at the great divide,
    we say our farewells to those "thrilling days of
    yester-year" and the most noble man I ever hope to
    He helped make America a better place, and I never
    even got to thank him. But I guess he might prefer it
    that way. He's got his thanks now, safe in the arms of

    Happy Trails Ranger.

    Keep a smile on your face,
    And a song in your heart!

    Buck"The Big Man"

  • Norm | June 18, 2013 5:55 PMReply

    The Power of the 1940's, 50's, 60's, and some of the 70's was second to none when forming public opinion or helping to shape the thinking of Americans, can't speak for the rest of the world but it was Awesome in the U.S. Which is where the characters created by lawyer George Trendle lays, underneath the benevolence of the times. While the success began on 1933 radio, television unleashed its' power with a stunning visual display of gallantry, friendship and loyalty, few things you can see today, especially on TV. The testament to this Shows longevity lies with the fans who considered these men friends and protectors. Clayton Moores' daughter accepts the premise of the times yet understands the triumph of the spirit ...the question remains, why today's generation may never...?

  • Kay | June 18, 2013 5:28 PMReply

    Whenever I watched The Lone Ranger, I always focused on the handsome, regal Jay Silverheels. I had a terrible crush of Tonto and even in my Lone Ranger coloring book, I colored all the Tonto images first...! I loved Dawn's thoughtful tribute to such a wonderful man--thanks to her for honoring both the memory of her wonderful dad and his faithful "Indian companion." And thanks for sharing this, Leonard! I enjoyed it so much. Kay

  • Susanna King | June 18, 2013 4:58 PMReply

    ...and EVERY year I'd wait for the annual rerun of the episode of how the Lone Ranger came to be after the ambush by the nefarious Cavendish Gang!!! What great memories....I often told my children that I wished I could take them all back to 1958 with me; a perfect year to be a kid.I so appreciate it when a child of a celebrity takes the time to care and preserve a parent's memory and accomplishments. Thanks Dawn...and thank you Leonard for bringing this to our attention...

  • DBenson | June 18, 2013 4:21 AMReply

    I recall that the makers of the "Legend of the Lone Ranger" legally banned Moore from wearing the mask in public, which turned into one more public embarrassment for a celebrated bomb.

    Was that prohibition ever lifted? I recall reading that Moore switched to heavy sunglasses for a while -- he was still emphatic about not meeting his public unmasked. In your photo he's wearing regular glasses, but he's not in costume.

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