Clayton Moore (September 14, 1914 – December 28, 1999) was an American actor best known for playing the fictional western character the Lone Ranger from 1949–1951 and 1954–1957 on the television series of the same name and two related movies from the same producers.
Born Jack Carlton Moore in Chicago, Illinois, Moore became a circus acrobat by age 8 and appeared at the Century of Progress exposition in Chicago in 1934 with a trapeze act. He graduated from Stephen K. Hayt Elementary School, Sullivan Junior High School and Senn High School on the far Northside of Chicago.
As a young man, Moore worked successfully as a John Robert Powers model. Moving to Hollywood in the late 1930s, he worked as a stunt man and bit player between modeling jobs. According to his 1996 autobiography I Was That Masked Man, around 1940, Hollywood producer Edward Small persuaded him to adopt the stage name "Clayton" Moore. He was an occasional player in B westerns and the lead in four Republic Studio cliffhangers, and two for Columbia. Moore served in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II and made training films (Target--Invisible, etc.) with the First Motion Picture Unit.
The Lone Ranger
In 1949 Moore's work in the Ghost of Zorro serial drew the attention of George Trendle, co-creator and producer of The Lone Ranger, a popular radio series about a mysterious former Texas Ranger, the sole survivor of a six-Ranger posse ambushed by a gang of outlaws, who roamed the West with his Indian companion battling evil and helping the downtrodden. When Trendle brought the series to television, Moore landed the title role. With the "cavalry charge" from Rossini's William Tell Overture as their theme music, Moore and co-star Jay Silverheels made history as the stars of the first Western written specifically for television. The Lone Ranger soon became the highest-rated program to that point on the fledgling ABC network and its first true hit. It earned an Emmy Award nomination in 1950.
Moore was replaced in the third season by John Hart, reportedly due to a contract dispute, but he returned for the final two seasons. The fifth and final season was the only one shot in color. In all, Moore starred in 169 of the 221 episodes produced.
Moore appeared in other television series during his Lone Ranger run, including a 1952 episode of Bill Williams' syndicated Western The Adventures of Kit Carson. He guest-starred in two episodes of Jock Mahoney's series The Range Rider in 1952 and 1953. He and Silverheels also starred in two feature-length Lone Ranger motion pictures.
After completion of the second feature, The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold, in 1958, Moore began 40 years of personal appearances, TV guest spots, and classic commercials as the legendary masked man. Silverheels joined him for occasional reunions during the early 1960s. Throughout his career, Moore expressed respect and love for Silverheels.
Lawsuit over public appearances
In 1979, the owner of the Ranger character, Jack Wrather, obtained a court order prohibiting Moore from making future appearances as The Lone Ranger. Wrather anticipated making a new film version of the story and did not want the value of the character being undercut by Moore's appearances. Wrather did not want to encourage the belief that the 65-year-old Moore would be playing the role in the new picture. This move proved to be a public relations disaster. Moore responded by changing his costume slightly and replacing the Domino mask with similar-looking Foster Grant wraparound sunglasses, and by counter-suing Wrather. He eventually won the suit, and was able to resume his appearances in costume, which he continued to do until shortly before his death. For a time he worked in publicity tie-ins with the Texas Rangers baseball team. (Wrather's new motion picture of the character, The Legend of the Lone Ranger, was released in 1981 and was a critical and commercial failure.)
Moore often was quoted as saying he had "fallen in love with the Lone Ranger character" and strove in his personal life to take The Lone Ranger Creed to heart. This, coupled with his public fight to retain the right to wear the mask, linked him inextricably with the character. In this regard, he was much like another cowboy star, William Boyd, who portrayed the Hopalong Cassidy character. Moore was so identified with the masked man that he is the only person on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, as of 2006, to have his character's name along with his on the star, which reads, "Clayton Moore — The Lone Ranger." He was inducted into the Stuntman's Hall of Fame in 1982 and in 1990 was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Moore also was awarded a place on the Western Walk of Fame in Old Town Newhall, California.
Clayton Moore died on December 28, 1999, in a West Hills, California, hospital after suffering a heart attack at his home in nearby Calabasas. He was survived by his fourth wife, Clarita Moore, and an adopted daughter, Dawn Angela Moore. Moore was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale.
Year Title Role Note
1937 Forlorn River Cowboy uncredited
1937 Thunder Trail Cowboy uncredited
1938 Go Chase Yourself Reporter uncredited
1939 Burn 'Em Up O'Connor Hospital Interne as Jack Moore
1940 Kit Carson Paul Terry
1940 The Son of Monte Cristo Lieutenant Fritz Dorner
1941 International Lady Sewell
1941 Tuxedo Junction Bill Bennett
1942 Black Dragons FBI Agent Richard 'Dick' Martin
1942 Perils of Nyoka Dr. Larry Grayson
1946 The Bachelor's Daughters Bill Cotter
1946 The Crimson Ghost Ashe
1947 Jesse James Rides Again Jesse James
1947 Along the Oregon Trail Gregg Thurston
1948 G-Men Never Forget Agent Ted O'Hara
1948 Marshal of Amarillo Art Crandall
1948 Adventures of Frank and Jesse James Jesse James
1949 The Far Frontier Tom Sharper
1949 Sheriff of Wichita Raymond D'Arcy
1949 Riders of the Whistling Pines Henchman Pete
1949 Ghost of Zorro Ken Mason/ el Zorro
1949 Frontier Investigator Scott Garnett
1949 The Cisco Kid Lieutenant
1949 South of Death Valley Brad
1949 Masked Raiders Matt Trevett
1949 The Cowboy and the Indians Henchman Luke
1949 Bandits of El Dorado B. F. Morgan
1949 Sons of New Mexico Rufe Burns
1949/1957 The Lone Ranger The Lone Ranger (TV series) 169 episodes
1951 Cyclone Fury Grat Hanlon
1952 Son of Geronimo: Apache Avenger Jim Scott as Clay Moore
1952 The Hawk of Wild River The Hawk
1952 Radar Men from the Moon Graber
1952 Night Stage to Galveston Clyde Chambers
1952 Captive of Billy the Kid Paul Howard
1953 Jungle Drums of Africa Alan King as Clay Moore
1953 Kansas Pacific Henchman Stone
1953 The Bandits of Corsica Ricardo
1953 Down Laredo Way Chip Wells
1954 Gunfighters of the Northwest Bram Nevin
1955 "Apache Ambush" Townsman
1956 The Lone Ranger The Lone Ranger (1956 film)
1958 The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold The Lone Ranger (1958 film)
1. "Clayton Moore, the 'Lone Ranger,' dead at 85". CNN.
2. Goldstein, Richard (1999-12-29). "Clayton Moore, Television's Lone Ranger And a Persistent Masked Man, Dies at 85". New York
3. "Illinois Hall of Fame". Illinois State Society Of Washington, DC.
4. Billy Hathorn, "Roy Bean, Temple Houston, Bill Longley, Ranald Mackenzie, Buffalo Bill, Jr., and the Texas Rangers: Depictions of West Texans in Series Television, 1955 to 1967", West Texas Historical Review, Vol. 89 (2013), pp. 102-103
5. "Jan 30, 1933: The Lone Ranger debuts on Detroit radio". History.com.
6. McLellan, Dennis (September 22, 2009). "John Hart dies at 91; the other 'Lone Ranger'". Chicago Tribune.
7. Moore, Clayton; Thompson, Frank (October 1, 1998). I Was That Masked Man. Taylor Trade Publishing. p. 130. ISBN 978-0878332168.
8. McLellan, Dennis (June 12, 1993). "After 60 Years, the Lone Ranger Still Lives". The Los Angeles Times.
9. "Who's That Masked Man? Hi-Yo-It's Clayton Moore!". The Los Angeles Times. 1985-01-15.
10. Vallance, Tom (1999-12-30). "Obituary: Clayton Moore". The Independent (London).
11. Stassel, Stephanie (1999-12-29). "Clayton Moore, TV's 'Lone Ranger,' Dies". The Los Angeles Times.
12 "Lone Ranger star dies". BBC. 1999-12-29.
I Was That Masked Man, by Clayton Moore with Frank Thompson, Taylor Publishing Company, 1996 - ISBN 0-87833-939-6