The Lone Ranger at the
This morning, KRMG aired an interview with Wayne McCombs re the passing of The Lone Ranger, Clayton Moore.
The Lone Ranger made a personal appearance at the Tulsa State Fair on behalf of Tulsa Cable in the 80s. Wayne picked up Mr. Moore at the airport in a silver Lincoln Towncar (borrowed from Fred Jones Ford) . He took over this task from TTM reader Jim Back, who was described as driving a "funky" old Toyota.
(Wayne also told a story about Gailard Sartain. GS had just returned from the filming of Robert Altman's "Nashville", and was telling Wayne and others about his Hollywood experiences. One of them was getting to see the rock that appears in the Lone Ranger opening when Silver rears up.)
Many westerns and other Hollywood productions were shot in the Alabama Hills in Lone Pine, California. That is where the Lone Ranger Canyon is located, the Big Rock, as we call it. Every cowboy (Gene, Roy, etc.) worked there as did many other actors. Popular location for TV and movies.
Your photo of The Lone Ranger at the top of the home page (plus reference to Wayne McCombs' participation) prompts me to fill in some of the details of his visit to Tulsa.
In about 1985 or so, when I was in the Marketing Dept. at Tulsa Cable (now TCI Cable -- and it will become Cox Cable around the first of March), we decided to have a booth at the State Fair. We thought it would be fun to bring in celebrities to attract visitors to our booth. I was put in charge of finding as many as I could (within our budget) and getting them to Tulsa and to our booth. We brought in Len Dawson (host of HBO's "Inside the NFL") a cartoon character from Nickelodeon (actually a smallish 20-something actor in a hotter-n-blazes costume), an exercise guru from Lifetime channel, and even a Playboy bunny! At the time, we had a local channel called "America's Shopping Channel" and we had some of those hosts at our booth. The Family Channel had started showing reruns of "The Lone Ranger" and folks at that network helped me get Clayton Moore for the fair.
His agent warned me that he had essentially taken on the persona of the Lone Ranger and that he would stay in character virtually all the time. We also were expected to pay for not only his expenses but also his "travelling secretary," who (the agent advised) was actually his constant companion (His wife had long-since died). She looked to be about 40 and was a little frayed around the edges, but clearly would have been a knockout in her younger days. He was about 70-something at the time.
When I met him at baggage claim at the Tulsa airport, he was nervous about whether his guns would arrive or not. He said they were the original guns used in the TV show and he considered them to be priceless. He said he had a letter from the FAA allowing him to carry them with him on planes, because he was afraid they would get stolen if he checked them through. But on this trip security people at the LA airport made him check them. He was relieved when they came around on the carousel. (I read a year or so later that indeed they did get stolen on one of his trips but they were recovered. A baggage handler had taken them.)
We had spread out our celebrities over the two week run of the fair and I kind of thought Len Dawson (former KC Chiefs great) might be the biggest draw at our booth. So I was blown away when we arrived that Saturday morning. The line waiting to meet the Lone Ranger and get his autograph was already long. He obviously loved the attention. I was struck by the age range of his fans. Not just baby boomers. There were grandmothers, little kids, and every age in between. People had him sign everything from quilts they had made containing scenes from the show, to gun holsters, to hats, you name it.
We took a break for lunch, and I escorted him to a restroom where he took off his mask and hat, and changed his shirt. I stood guard outside the door while he changed. He put on a different hat and tried to look incognito, but still couldn't help saying hello to people as we walked the aisles of the IPE building (OK, Expo Building) looking at some of the exhibits. After eating a hamburger from one of the booths, he re-donned his outfit and returned to another batch of waiting fans at our booth.
All in all it was a very successful visit. He clearly had a LOT of adoring fans. Cynics might call it sad that he couldn't accept the fact that he was just an actor who had played a character in a TV show for a few years and that he should let go of the past. I could tell that in his eyes, the country was short on heroes and role models; and if people looked up to the Lone Ranger, it was his duty to not let them down.
Thank you for putting the picture of the Lone Ranger on the home page. At the time of day I was there, very few people were at the fair so I had a chance to visit with him at length. He said he kept in touch with Jay Silverheels' widow and had just called her before he flew to Tulsa.