Monday, September 15, 2014



Dawn and Clayton at the Cowboy Hall of Fame 1990

The first time I saw Clayton Moore in person was the day he got his star at 6914 Hollywood Boulevard, on the Walk of Fame.  His is the only star of the more than 2000 which also names the character that brought him fame. 

In 1996, my wife and I actually got to shake his hand.  It was at a book-signing for his autobiography, I WAS THAT MASKED MAN, written with Frank Thompson.  It was at the biggest bookstore in the San Fernando Valley, Bookstar.  Once a movie theatre,  the line stretched from Moore, seated at a table in front of what had been the screen, all the way through the orchestra, across the lobby, past the box-office and onto Ventura Boulevard.  (Incidentally, if you’d turned right on Ventura, then left at the next corner, Laurel Canyon, you’d be at the entrance to Republic Studios, where Clayton had been ‘King of the Serials.’) 

While we waited for our turn to meet the man we’d both grown up watching portray history’s greatest champion of justice, we were struck by the number of men in line, in military and police uniforms – in front of us was a CHP officer with his helmet dangling from his arm.  The atmosphere was electric – voices all around us announced that watching Clayton Moore as The Lone Ranger had inspired them to go into the Army or the police department.  I spotted a friend in line, an attorney who happens to be one of Tex Ritter’s sons.  When we got to the head of the line, we got our book signed, a chance to say ‘thanks’, a big grin, a strong hand-shake, and strong eye contact – through the mask! Who could ask for more?

I am indebted to my friend Maxine Hansen at Gene Autry Entertainment, who thought that Clayton’s daughter Dawn and I should meet.

Clayton (r) in Buffalo Bill in Tomahawk Country

HENRY:  Your father is so associated in the public mind with the Lone Ranger that it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that it’s not the 100th birthday of the character; it’s the hundredth anniversary of the birth of the man who portrayed him.  Tell me something about your father that we fans of the Lone Ranger wouldn’t guess. 

DAWN MOORE:  What most people don’t know about Dad is that he had an incredible sense of humor.  He was really a big kid; he was irreverent, and kind of whacky, and liked to have a good time.

HENRY: Besides playing the Lone Ranger, your dad played a wide range of roles – I particularly liked his villains.  How did he like playing a bad guy?  Did he have any favorite non Lone Ranger roles?

DAWN:  You know, he did actually, because when he got the role of the Lone Ranger he was told in no uncertain terms, that he was to mimic (radio’s Lone Ranger) Brace Beemer’s performance, and mimic his voice.  And the Lone Ranger was stoic, and was not to laugh or smile or be light-hearted in any way.  That was challenging, and several seasons into it, he actually said, ‘I’d like to smile.’  And if you watch the progression of it, not only does his horse-back riding improve,  which he also readily admitted, but he actually smiles towards the end of the series run, which he wasn’t allowed to do at the beginning.  He very much enjoyed playing heavies, because that’s when he’d kind of break loose.  (When the Lone Ranger would be in disguise in an episode) he enjoyed playing the prospector, he enjoyed doing the Mexican bandito, he enjoyed the padre; this was much more fun for him than just sticking to the one role consistently.   And that role, let’s face it, was an unemotional man. 

Clayton as the Old Prospector

HENRY:  Yes, nothing upset him, and nothing made him particularly happy, as you say, until a few seasons in.  It’s funny, because you really see that with George Reeves playing SUPERMAN too, that he was stoic and humorless for the first few seasons.

DAWN:  And you can see what that did for Reeves.

HENRY: Didn’t do him any good.  I loved when your dad did The Old Prospector and other characters.  Those roles were so much fun and he did a lovely job of them.

DAWN:  Well he, in fact, had The Old Prospector voice on the answering machine at our house.  And often he would, if he didn’t know who was calling, or depending on the kind of mood he was in, often answer in the Old Prospector voice.

HENRY: How old were you when you realized that your dad was a hero to millions of kids?  How did you find out?

DAWN:  I didn’t watch the show; the show was off the air by the time I showed up.  It would have been in re-runs in the 1960s, and in any case, I wasn’t interested – I was watching the MICKEY MOUSE CLUB.  And because he was in a costume and because he was in a mask, he was rarely recognized in public, so I had a normal childhood; he had quite a bit on anonymity.   So therefore I didn’t know he was famous for a very long time.  I was probably almost nine when we were shopping for a television, and the saleswoman stopped him and said, “I recognize your voice.  Are you The Lone Ranger?” 

HENRY:  As you said, the series was already in re-runs when you came along.  Were your friends aware of who your father was?  Did your parents have many friends in the business? 

DAWN:  Kids in school; you know, mostly I got teased.  I remember being teased quite a bit.  The fun thing was, when I had a birthday party, Dad would be Dad when the kids arrived, and at some point in the middle of the party, he would make a personal appearance as The Lone Ranger.  And then he would disappear again, and come back as Clayton Moore.  And the kids never were the wiser, because they were too young to get the voice thing.  That was fun – that was very fun.  But at school it was more about kids looking for things to tease you about.  About my father’s friends; he didn’t really hang out with other actors.  He hung out with the grips and the stuntmen, and the behind-the-scenes guys.  Because he was a guy’s guy, a man’s man.  And he really wasn’t interested in hanging out with the stars.  My mother would always kind of ride him about that.  ‘Why should I hang out with actors?’  He was not interested.

Clayton is a villain in Gene Autry's 'Night Train to Galveston'

HENRY: Did you ever watch the show with your dad?

DAWN: I didn’t ever watch it with him, and I didn’t watch pretty much anything that he was in with him until we started working on his book, so this was not until the ‘90s. And when we did start working on his book, I did make a point of going through every one of the serials even, and I have both audio and video of the two of us watching that together, and his comments.


DAWN:  That was his first one, 1942.  And that in fact was the inspiration for RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. 

HENRY:  Oh yes, when you watch it, it becomes very obvious.

DAWN:  I’m thrilled that you know that.  It’s almost identical, including the characters.  The only thing that’s different is that in PERILS OF NYOKA, the star is Nyoka.  But the doctor, and all the other characters – it’s all there.  I don’t think Speilberg ever copped to it, but I know Lucas did.  Do you know if Speilberg ever did?

Kay Aldridge, Clayton, Billy Benedict in
'Perils of Nyoka'

HENRY:  I don’t remember him doing so, but he certainly said he did a great study of the Republic serials before making it.  He was certainly copping to owing a huge debt to the genre.

DAWN:  Dad actually brought that to my attention.  I don’t know who brought it to his attention.

HENRY:  In his autobiography, your father describes adopting you as, “…the greatest thing that ever happened to me.”  How close were you and your dad? 

DAWN:  Dad was a big kid, and because of that he really was a fun father.  He was not a disciplinarian.  That fell to my mother.  So naturally, what does that do to any kid?  The parent who was not the disciplinarian becomes your friend.  So in hindsight I realize my poor mother really got the short end of the stick on that deal.  Somebody’s always the bad guy, and it was never my father.  He enjoyed those roles, but he would never take the bad-guy position in real life.  I would also say he was encouraging.  He was not judgmental, which in a parent is an extraordinary thing.  He thought I walked on water.  He always praised anything, any stupid little thing I did got tremendous praise.  Buuuut… and here’s kind of a fun flipside of that.  Because he was such a good athlete, and I’m sure he learned what I am about to share with you from his own father, he didn’t ‘let’ me win anything that we did together.  If I won fair and square, that was great, but he would not just give it to me.  We played tennis together, and I‘d be running from one side of the court to the other, and he’d be standing still.  And I got so frustrated I can remember one time saying to him, “Why don’t you just let me win one?”  And he said, “Because you’re not going to learn anything by me letting you win.”  He taught me how to dive.  He was an excellent swimmer – he used to swim with Johnny Weissmuller at the Hollywood Athletic Club.  And obviously he knew, from being a trapeze artist, how to be graceful in a dive. So he taught me how to dive, and he would rate me.  “That’s a 7, that’s an 8, that’s an 8 and a half – try again.”  He was encouraging without being judgmental, and that’s a good thing when you’re young, and still living at home, and you come home drunk.  (laughs)  That’s another sign of great parents; I knew when they were disappointed in me.  They didn’t have to go into a long verbal dissertation about it; it was very clear.  He gave direction and encouragement and 
guidance when needed.  He was a buddy; he was a friend.

HENRY:  Were there any other things you two liked to do together?

DAWN:  He used to take me fishing.  He had two brothers; there were three boys in his family, and he was very close to his father, so he did all the same things with me.  We went fishing.  When he would practice using the bullwhip, I would be the one standing there with the cigarette in my mouth.  Now of course, the cigarette was a rolled up piece of paper.  And my mother was mortified – and sure that he was going to hurt me in some way, accidentally of course.  But I was having great fun.  When he was home, he engaged me in everything he was doing.  Some people’s parents come home from work, and they need some downtime.  But because Dad was home all the time, there wasn’t that separation.

Clayton and Dawn at Pat Buttram's 1959

HENRY:  Were there any particular friends from the Lone Ranger days – actors, directors, writers, that stayed friends after the series had finished?

DAWN:  You know, if they didn’t have children, then I wouldn’t remember.  My father remained very close to his Army buddies.  And they were not actors.  He remained close with them until they all started dying off in the 1970s and 1980s.  There were four of them, Dad was one of the four, and they would get together with their wives.  That I remember very distinctly.  But that is another good example of my father being down to Earth, and being more interested in befriending people who were not in the industry. 

HENRY:  Somewhere I have in the back of my head that your father and Rand Brooks were good friends.  Is that right?  (Note: Rand Brooks and Clayton Moore worked together in 1940’s THE SON OF MONTE CRISTO, and seven Lone Ranger episodes)

DAWN:  That’s absolutely right.  I never associate Rand with THE LONE RANGER because Rand, having been in GONE WITH THE WIND in 1939 (note: he played Scarlet O’Hara’s first husband) was already doing very well before my Father arrived.  They were best friends; they were very very close friends.  Rand spoke at Dad’s memorial service, and was very moving.

HENRY: What were your father’s interests or hobbies outside of acting?

DAWN:  For the most part, his hobbies all involved athletics.  He swam almost every day.  He would be out for very long walks.  He would go for camping trips on weekends – he always had some kind of motor-home or camper.  Some kind of vehicle that allowed him to get away.   To this day – why I continue to save it I don’t know – I have all his camping equipment, his fishing gear, and sleeping bag and Coleman stove, and I’m never going to use it as long as I live.  But somehow, that is more who my father was.  It was more important to me even than saving a lot of his Lone Ranger memorabilia.  People ask me, when I’ve had these various auctions, “How can you part with these things?”  And that is not who my father was to me.  My father is in the fishing reel and the tackle box, and I remember him showing me how to get a worm on a hook.  Those things are my father.  The Bohlen gun rig is a character, and part of my father’s job, but that’s not him to me.  So the difference in what I choose to keep, and what’s not as important to me, and should go out for fans to enjoy and be stewards of – the mind-set is a little different.

HENRY:  What triggered your father’s decision to ‘become’ the Lone Ranger, and never appear in public without the mask?

DAWN:  He never appeared, working at any kind of a performance where he would be the Lone Ranger – he didn’t show up or leave without being in the costume – so-as not to dispel the mystery and ruin the mystique.  But he’d really found something that made him feel good about himself.  That’s really what it drove down to: he fell in love with the character, and he said many times that it made him a better person.  And when you look at the Lone Ranger Creed, you can pick out any one of the tenants, and see that it is still completely relevant eighty years later.  And very powerful stuff.  He read it; he took it to heart.  He thought, this is a way to live a better life.  It meant something to him, and he made choices every day based on the creed.  It’s hard to be perfect (laughs).  He certainly didn’t achieve perfection by any means, but the fact that he made the effort to is certainly more than most of us would ever try to do.

HENRY:  Yes, to have a code to live up to every day is taking on an awful lot.

DAWN:  It is taking on a whole lot, and I think my father wasn’t particularly religious, but in lieu of that, that was his religion. 

HENRY:  Much of your father’s later Lone Ranger work, like the Aqua-Velva and Pizza-Roll commercials, was tongue-in-cheek, and he had to play it stoic for the joke to work.  What was your father’s sense of humor like?

DAWN:  He loved doing those commercials because they were so tongue-in-cheek – he was totally in on the joke; he absolutely ‘got it.’  If you came to the house you would have been encouraged to put the mask on, you would have been encouraged to put the hat on or the gun-belt on.  It was a lot of fun for him – he never really got out of being ten years old himself.  There he was playing a character that any kid would want to be, so why wouldn’t he want to do this for the rest of his life.  Dad’s sense of humor -- he thought it was hilarious that they had just bought two plots at Forest Lawn, and how beautiful it was up there.  So when we had guests visiting from Minneapolis, and they wanted to tour around and see all the sights, we went there of course, and he thought it was just hysterical to lay down where his plot was, and make them take a picture.  And they wanted to play along, and my mother was mortified – “Clayton, get up out of there!”

HENRY:  By the 1980s, most active actors of your father’s era were making the rounds of LOVE 
BOAT, FANTASY ISLAND and MURDER SHE WROTE.  Was he approached for this sort of show?  Did he consider them, though it would have gone against his intention to only appear as The Lone Ranger?  

DAWN:  You know, I don’t know exactly where the line got drawn with him.  Garry Marshall approached him to come on HAPPY DAYS, because The Lone Ranger was Fonzie’s hero, and Dad turned that down.  I was surprised at that because it perfectly fit in with who he was, and his portrayal of the character.  I mean, he appeared as The Lone Ranger on LASSIE, and other shows, so it was interesting to me that he turned that down, and another actor had to do that.

HENRY:  It was John Hart. (Note: When, after a few years, Clayton Moore wanted a raise, he was fired and replaced by John Hart.  After one season the producers rehired Moore for more money.)

DAWN:  It was John Hart?  I didn’t realize that.  What did make sense for me was to turn down Johnny Carson.  Johnny Carson asked him a record three times.  Dad’s position was, ‘I’m not going to sit there, on that kind of a format on that kind of a show, in a costume and a mask, and a gun-belt – it’d look absolutely silly for a full-grown man.  And I’m not going to appear as Clayton Moore, because that will destroy the mystique.’  Carson asked him again and he said no, same reason.  Jay Silverheels did appear, and I believe he was in costume, and I think that reinforced Dad to say ‘I won’t do it.’  That makes perfect sense, because he wanted to continue to maintain the mystery.  So that’s why he only took the commercials, which allowed him to continue the mystery.  He did ED SULLIVAN, and my Dad never said a bad word about anyone except Ed Sullivan.  Ed did not go along with the program, meaning he didn’t go along with the joke, he couldn’t interact with him the way he needed to.  My guess is he didn’t want a repeat of the Ed Sullivan experience with Johnny Carson.  He was smart in how he crafted the balance of his career that way, and what he chose to do and what he chose not to do.  In hindsight he did a good job.

HENRY:  I recently met Michael Horse, who played Tonto in the 1981 THE LEGEND OF THE 

LONE RANGER.  And when I re-watched the film, there was a role in it, of a newspaper publisher, that I thought would have made an excellent cameo for your father.  And when I saw the credits, I was stunned: it was played by John Hart.  Was that ever offered to your father?

DAWN: He was not offered any part, but in any case, had he been offered that, he would not have accepted it.  His take on (the story for the movie) would have been totally genius.  He understood that the Lone Ranger was a young man in his late teens or early twenties.  And the way to have transitioned from the fan stand-point, and it would have made a fantastic story-line, is to have him hand the mask down to the next generation onscreen.  Literally, shooting from behind, have him take the mask off and hand it to the next Lone Ranger.   That would have been fantastic, and the story is a great conceit.  They did a fantastic job when Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster did MAVERICK.  It was smart and funny and irreverent, and there was that great wink, how they folded in James Garner.  And they didn’t take the role away from Garner, he was Maverick, but the father.   But no, (my father) was not offered anything, and he would not have taken the bartender had he been offered it. 

HENRY:  What is your father’s legacy?

DAWN:  As I continue to hear from fans, his legacy lies in what the fan-letters say.  This was during his lifetime, in addition to the letters I continue to receive, and what you can find on-line on chat-boards and tribute sites.  The letters are from policemen, and firemen, and teachers, all of whom say they chose a career in service because of him, because of his portrayal.  Not just because of the Lone Ranger, but because of Clayton Moore, and how he chose to live his life.  That is pretty powerful stuff.  This is not just an actor portraying a role for entertainment’s sake.  This is how someone who has been able to transcend the entertainment value, and influence young peoples’ lives at a time that they are sponges, and they absorb something positive and carry it forward into their adult lives.  And they are serving other people, protecting other people.  I think that’s very powerful, and it’s important to me to share that on my father’s birthday. 

Next week I’ll have my coverage of Cinecon’s tribute to Clayton Moore.  Below is a video of Clayton Moore receiving his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.


On Wednesday, September 17th, Rob Word’s third-Wednesday-of-the-month Cowboy Lunch at the Autry will celebrate the legendary Western movie location, Lone Pine, located several hours north of Los Angeles on the east slope of the Sierra Nevada.  The sun-scorched desert, eerie rock formations and Alabama Hills have made it a favorite film location since the silent days, much used by Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy and hundreds of others – it even stood in for India in GUNGA DIN! 

Among the guests expected are Mariette Hartley, who starred in Sam Peckinpah’s RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY; William Wellman, Jr.; Robert Sigman of the Lone Pine History Museum;  and author Dick Bann.  Incidentally, October 10 – 12 is the 25th Annual Lone Pine Film Festival – I’ll have details in the Round-up next week.   As always, Wednesday’s is free, tho’ you have to buy your lunch.  Lunch starts at noon, the talk starts about one, but if you want to be sure to get a seat inside, gets there early!

To whet your appetite for the luncheon, here’s a look at the WILD BUNCH LUNCH, where stuntman Gary Combs describes working for Sam Peckinpah:


2012 finale, featuring Wilford Brimley, Anne Jeffreys, 
Delores Taylor, Bo Svenson, Louis Gossett Jr., 
Tom Laughlin and Ben Murphy

There are still tickets available for the  17th Annual ‘SILVER SPUR AWARDS’ banquet this Friday night, presented by The Reel Cowboys.  Reel Cowboys President Robert Lanthier gave me an update on presenters and honorees.  Master of Ceremonies will be Israel Boone from the DANIEL BOONE series, Darby Hinton, who will soon be seen in the Western mini-series TEXAS RISING!  The first Lifetime Achievement Award will be represented to Clayton ‘The Lone Ranger’ Moore, represented by his daughter Dawn Moore.  The Jack Iverson Founder Award will be presented in honor of Cactus Mack by former child star Tommy Ivo.  Dan Haggerty will present an award honoring John Payne.  Wyatt McCrea, son of Joel McCrea and Frances Dee, will present an award honoring director William Wellman.  Roger E. Mosley will present to stun-man Bob Minor.  Patrick Wayne will present to Stephanie Powers.  Rich Little will present to Ruta Lee.  Among the folks expected to attend are Hugh O’Brien, Trini Lopez and Tab Hunter. 

A portion of the proceeds will go to the John Tracy Clinic, which helps young children with hearing loss.  For the best seating, VIP tickets are $175 on-line and $195 at the door.  General seating is $125 on-line and $145 at the door.  To learn more, and to buy tickets, visit the official website HERE.


The Almeria International Western Film Festival was held this week, and here are the winners:

6 BULLETS cast and crew take to the Apollo Stage

Public’s Choice – LA FLOR DE LIS



As the attached WSJ article explains, LONGMIRE, one of the best and smartest series in years, and an unqualified hit, was cancelled because (a) A&E doesn’t own it, and they want to own more of what they air (understandable) and (b) because polling has shown that the median age for the show’s viewers is 60!  Our geezer-bucks aren’t good enuf for ‘em, even though we have more of ‘em than the young farts they’re coveting!  I’M SHAVING 20 YEARS OFF MY AGE FROM NOW ON, WHENEVER I’M POLLED ABOUT ANYTHING!  PLEASE JOIN ME IN THE BIG LIE!  Jack Benny was right all along!  Signed, Henry C. Parke, age 39.


Have a great week, and I’ll see you here next Sunday!

Happy Trails,


All Original Contents Copyright September 2014 by Henry C. Parke – All Rights Reserved

1 comment:

  1. I remember clayton Moore came to swansea, to promote the first film he and his dear friend Harold J. Smith. made together in colour. clayton walked down the aisle in the cinema, the castle cinema, within 12 feet of me, I was just a kid, bless him, and harold for the hours of fun and enjoyment that they gave me, and no doubt many other kids. my regards to the moore families and the silverheels families.