Mitch's Muszings

Actor/writer/director Mitch McGuire shares his thoughts so the public will get to know him. He hopes to please you most of the time, and never be boring. Also some history on his old theatre company, Manhattan Punch Line Theatre, Inc.

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Location: New York, NY, United States

actor, writer, producer, director, father, grandfather, husband.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Lone Ranger and Me

June 15, 2005 Ó

The Lone Ranger and Me

When I was a kid in Chicago, I dressed up as a cowboy. I practiced my fast draw skills with my holster set, till I could beat any brat in my neighborhood. Saturdays I’d go to the Liberty Theatre where for .25c you could spend an entire day seeing cowboy movies. But you had to check your guns at the counter. I actually liked that part. I spent long hours emulating my heroes, Roy Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy and especially the Lone Ranger.

So I’m grown up, its 1974, I got a call from my agent…(Did I tell you I’m an actor?) She tells me I’m going to Atlanta to shoot a commercial for Dodge with Clayton Moore, the Lone Ranger! Wow! Just for fun and to get me in the mood, I practice doing a couple of the Lone Ranger lines, “Meet me at the silver mine, Tonto. I’m going in disguise as the old-timer.”
I imitate Frank Foy, the announcer the Lone Ranger. “A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and hearty "Hi Yo Silver!" The Lone Ranger!” Then the Lone Ranger would say, "C’mon Silver, let’s go big fella, Hi-Yo Silver, away! With his faithful Indian companion Tonto, the daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains, led the fight for law and order in the early west. Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear. The Lone Ranger rides again!” Yup, I’m ready.
I fly to Atlanta from my home base in NYC, to do a Dodge commercial. I portray a young guy who drives his new Dodge into a gas station. Madly in love with my car, I don’t notice that the man complementing it, is The Lone Ranger. We converse until he leaves, when I notice who it is. I say, “who was that masked man?”, the eternal Lone Ranger query.

I spend four days there with Mr. Moore in a trailer parked at a gas station; the location of the shoot. I find a 60-ish year old Clayton Moore in costume looking great; a warm, cheerful voluble man who loves to tell stories about his career as the Lone Ranger. A man totally involved in his character and the credo, written by the great writer Fran Striker that articulate things like,
” I believe that to have a friend, a man must be one.That all men are created equal.That God put the firewood there but that every man must gather and light it himself.In being prepared physically, mentally, and morally to fight when necessary for that which is right.That 'This government, of the people, by the people and for the people' shall live always.That sooner or later...somewhere...somehow...we must settle with the world and make payment for what we have taken.In my Creator, my country, my fellow man.”
Clayton tells me how he originally auditioned for Lone Ranger on a Hollywood movie lot outdoors. They wanted a television Lone Ranger. There was a long line of cowboy actors, but when Clayton got his chance to sit down with George Trendle, the owner of the Lone Ranger enterprise, Trendle asked him why he wanted to play the Lone Ranger? Moore replied , “Sir, I am the Lone Ranger! In that warm distinctive voice I loved as a child, and still do in 1974 and 2005. The Lone Ranger" debuted on television Sept. 15, 1949, the first western series ever produced specifically for television.

Mr. Moore informs me that he never lets anyone take his picture unless he was wearing his mask or a pair of sunglasses.
He carries silver bullets that he uses to identify himself by placing one on the desk of a hotel when checking in, or giving one away to adoring fans. His horse, Silver, is stuffed and in a cowboy museum in California. When I ask why he didn’t do commercials with Tonto, Jay Silverheels, who was a real Mohawk Indian, Moore quipped, “No one can afford both of us!”

Before I left Atlanta I get my own picture with Clayton Moore, the Lone Ranger, arm in arm in full costume and with his mask on. He was totally in character.

Trendle sold the Lone Ranger enterprise to the Wrather Corporation, run by Texas oilman turned media mogul, Jack Wrather. He decided in 1975 to make another Lone Ranger movie, but wanted to star a younger man, the now forgotten, Klinton Spilsbury. Since Clayton Moore was still touring the country as the Lone Ranger, Wrather ordered him to stop. Wrather feared fans would be “confused” so he took Moore to court to “strip him of his mask.” The suit backfired. It enraged Clayton Moore’s fans who refused to see the film. It flopped at the box office. The only confusion the fans apparently felt was “Why make a Lone Ranger picture without the Lone Ranger?” Wrather won the lawsuit but lost the heart of America.

Wrather should have made a movie about the older Lone Ranger, struggling to continue his job in the new West, maybe chasing a car with bad guys in it; their guns shooting at him on his horse Silver II, with the Lone Ranger’s mask firmly in place, his skin-tight blue cowboy suit barely flapping in the wind, and shouting,

“C’mon Big Fella, Hi-Ho Silver Away!!”

Clayton Moore would have loved that. What Clayton Moore gave to the corporate Lone Ranger, was his life, his soul, his voice and his spirit. From what I have read he carried on his belief in his character and his credo to the end of his days.

I doubt Clayton Moore ever studied method acting yet he was the ultimate “Method” actor: Totally committed, totally in the moment, totally lost in his “given circumstances”...and totally believable. A great performance and a darn good life.

Clayton Moore’s work situation was perhaps a precursor to the corporate change that soon came over all of America; the worker who dedicates his life to a corporation thinking that they will take care of him. But those days were dawning and Clayton did not foresee that, else he might not have told his agent to stop submitting him for other roles. Clayton Moore thought he was giving his life to his character, but he really was giving his life to his corporation, and must have thought that they would be fair. But he and the Lone Ranger know, “That sooner or later...somewhere...somehow...we must settle with the world and make payment for what we have taken.
We are all Lone Rangers now; actors have always been, but now you have joined us. (Imitating Clayton Moore as the Lone Ranger) Welcome strangers, to the globalized world.

6 Comments:

Blogger j said...

Now my account got verified, so will try again. Loved your blog on the Lone Ranger.
j

12:37 AM  
Blogger mitchny said...

Sorry for the idiotic porn links here....not sure how to get rid of them...any tips?

7:41 PM  
Blogger Carolyn said...

I enjoyed reading this account of The Lone Ranger, Mitch. Keep writing these memories, I know you must have a ton of them.
Carolyn

1:41 PM  
Blogger mitchny said...

I enjoyed the few comments here....wish there were more.

10:06 AM  
Blogger mitchny said...

Only comments I am getting are about the lone Ranger and none on the rest of my stuff so wondering if it is somehow not being seen or is it just not as interesting?

3:31 PM  
Blogger mitchny said...

Wondering if "Carolyn" Is Ms. Bracken?

3:32 PM  

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