A fiery horse with the speed of light, a
cloud of dust, and a hearty HI YO SILVER!
The Lone Ranger! 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 Western United States.
Nowhere in the pages of history can one find
a greater champion of justice. Return with us
now to those thrilling days of yesteryear!
From out of the past come the thundering
hoof beats of the great horse Silver! THE
LONE RANGER RIDES AGAIN!
The Lone Ranger radio program was
broadcast live from 1933-1954. Of all the
announcer-narrators who served on that
exciting series, one gentleman made the
above introduction more memorable and
meaningful than any words or anyone
preceding his tenure: Fred Foy. Just listen to
the extant episodes! There were some fine
announcers at WXYZ Detroit. Even Brace
Beemer, best remembered as radio's final
Lone Ranger, served earlier in the
announcer/narrator capacity, but with all his
rich resonance, he was unable to match Mr.
Incidentally, the famous words printed at
the beginning of this article were not fully
present in the early days of The Lone Ranger.
That so-perfect opening took many years to
develop, and was never recited in a "block."
"With his faithful Indian companion Tonto"
actually came after the first commercial!
(Syndicated reruns of The Lone Ranger in
more recent years sometimes lump it all
together.) Still, the voice associated with
those now-immortal words is that of Fred Foy.
Mr. Foy admits he was something of a
"ham" growing up, always jumping at the
chance to perform. Born in 1921, he and
radio shared a common childhood! Listening
with his family to a variety of early programs,
he literally "grew up with The Lone Ranger."
The thrice-weekly program appealed to
children as well as many parents.
There are a number of Lum and Abner /
Lone Ranger crossovers that bear
investigating. We will do so while reviewing a
bit of the history surrounding these two
programs. Originating from station WXYZ in
Detroit, Michigan, The Lone Ranger made its
debut in January 1933. Time has clouded
and confused many details surrounding the
creation of the program, a factor that extends
to the documentation of the early actors who
portrayed the title character. Thanks to such
excellent books as Dave Holland's From Out
of the Past, a Pictorial History of the Lone
Ranger (Holland House, 1988) and Who Was
That Masked Man? by David Rothel (A. S.
Barnes & Co. Inc., 1981), we know that The
Lone Ranger evolved from the creative efforts
of WXYZ owner George W. Trendle, director
James Jewell, and writer Fran Striker. Actor
George Stenius (later Seaton, the renowned
Hollywood motion picture craftsman) initiated
the role of the Ranger, and was followed by
two men who played the character for
extended periods: Earl Graser (who died
tragically in 1941) and Brace Beemer (who
carried on until the end of the series).
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Other names are associated with the
character, but some had only fleeting
attempts at the role, or cannot be
documented with certainty. (One interesting
bit of casting had silent screen idol Francis X.
Bushman as the Masked Man in an early test
performance for Chicago's WGN. Bushman
was later a regular on The Opie Cates Show
and a frequent supporting player on Lum and
Abner from 1945 on.)
The Lone Ranger was a phenomenon,
and Trendle had a hit on his hands. The
program's coverage was broadened by its
multi-station airing on the Michigan Network,
and by 1934, stations WGN, WOR, and WLW
linked with WXYZ to form the Mutual
Broadcasting System. This was formed on
the strength of The Lone Ranger, but as Dave
Holland and Chet Lauck have both pointed
out, Lum and Abner (then originating at WGN
for Horlick's Malted Milk) was among the
other programs benefiting from this new
network. Other affiliations carried LR from
coast to coast: NBC's Blue Network (later to
become ABC), New England's Yankee
Network, and California's Don Lee Network.
As with Lum and Abner, 16-inch transcription
discs were available to independent stations.
Del Sharbutt, an early (1931) Lum and
Abner announcer (and a substitute on later
occasions) held a position on the WXYZ staff,
and Fred Foy acknowledges him as a mentor.
(Sharbutt later served as the spokesman for
regional Lone Ranger sponsor Merita Bread
in the South.)
We cannot forget the direct and indirect
references to the Ranger in episodes of Lum
and Abner! Often, they involve Pine Ridge
children, or the sometimes childlike actions of
characters such as Cedric Weehunt and
Mousey Gray. Clips were played during our
1999 NLAS Convention of Abner and Cedric
discussing the Masked Man directly, while in
another series Mousey and Cedric adopt the
alter-egos of "The Masked Muskrat" and
(continued on the next page!)
|Fred Foy (far right) during a broadcast of
THE LONE RANGER at WXYZ, Detroit. At left are
John Todd (Tonto) and Brace Beemer
(the Lone Ranger).
|This article was originally published in the August 1999 issue of
The Jot 'Em Down Journal. It has been reformatted somewhat for