A note to Johnny Depp: Don't mock the Lone Ranger

leallan@tcsn.netJanuary 21, 2013 

I’ve heard recently that the Disney folks are making a movie on the Lone Ranger.

Johnny Depp will play Tonto. That disturbs me, because Depp normally brings a freakish take to any character he plays. I don’t know anything about Armie Hammer, who will portray the Lone Ranger.

For me, it’s personal.

No other fictional character has been such an important part of my life, starting with the 1950s movies and TV show featuring Clayton Moore as the Lone Ranger and Jay Silverheels as Tonto.

Depp better not mess it all up with his usual mugging into the camera that says, “Look at me, aren’t I creative?”

“The Lone Ranger” was created by George Trendle, who hired writer Fran Striker to develop the character. Striker came up with an Indian sidekick named Tonto, a silver mine as a source to keep the guns filled with silver bullets and the cry “Hi-Yo Silver.”

Trendle and Striker wanted a strong hero who used good grammar and a strong code of ethics. Starting in 1932, the radio show ran for more than 20 years, according to a radio history book I cherish.

I can still hear the words, “A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty ‘Hi-Yo Silver!’ The Lone Ranger rides again.”

The Lone Ranger killed only one man in more than two decades on the air, and that was his deadly enemy, Butch Cavendish. Diehard fans will remember that it was Cavendish who organized the ambush of those Texas Rangers at Bryan’s Gap, killing all of them except John Reed, who becomes the masked man. Much of the stories have the Lone Ranger trying to find his lost nephew, Dan Reed.  He eventually finds the youth.

In 1936, Trendle also created “The Green Hornet” who had a faithful companion, Kato, much like The Long Ranger’s Tonto. “The Green Hornet” had its own classical music opening, “The Flight of the Bumble Bee,” in contrast to the western’s “William Tell Overture.” The Lone Ranger had his horse, Silver, while the Green Hornet drove a car he dubbed “Black Beauty.”

The Green Hornet’s name was Brett Reed; he was the son of Dan Reed, the Lone Ranger’s nephew. Brett Reed was a newspaper publisher. Both he and his grand uncle fought the bad guys, stood for law and order and were good men themselves.

I hope Disney’s upcoming film (due out in July) holds to that tradition.

Lon Allan's column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Atascadero for nearly five decades and his column appears here every week. Reach Allan at 466-8529 or leallan@tcsn.net.

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