Book Review, I was that Masked Man by the late Clayton Moore with Frank Thompson
As a youngster, I recall sitting in front of a neighbor’s TV with a group of other children, watching The Lone Ranger.
We didn’t yet have a TV at our house, and the bunch of us were gathered in the neighbor’s living room when the resident boy’s mother returned home from her job with the telephone company.
“A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty ‘Hi Yo Silver,’” captivated us at the beginning of each show.
I was that Masked Man is an older book, copyrighted in 1996 and published by Taylor Publishing Company of Dallas, TX. The guy writing this review is an older guy, who well remembers the many TV Lone Ranger episodes. I can’t tell from several websites if Taylor Publishing is a self-publishing company, but I suspect that service is part of what it offers. It publishes yearbooks, military books, and is involved in other types of businesses.
The book, however is interesting and written in the first person. Moore tells of his early life in acrobatics and other endeavors but focuses, of course, on his playing the Lone Ranger. Not the original actor, but Moore played the Lone Ranger for years in many of the 221 TV episodes and two movies and in retirement traveled as himself portraying the Lone Ranger. Forced out of that role for several years by a restraining order, he eventually was permitted by the producers to go back to his travels as the Lone Ranger.
As himself, Moore emulated the characteristics of the masked men, honesty, courage, and other positive traits. He made those traits his own.
A part of the book that caught my attention was about Silver. Actually there were two Silvers. Silver was white, so as I type this I wonder why he wasn’t called Whitey. But one of the Silvers, the one Moore used the most was a stallion, called more commonly in horseman’s lingo a stud. This Silver had a black spot somewhere on the side of his rump...if I’ve got my Silver’s straight. They had to whiten the black spot before Silver went before the camera.
The other Silver had a black spot on one ear, which I don’t think they bothered whitening.
Whichever Silver appears in that famous shot, rearing on his hind legs, while Moore stays aboard and looks somewhat sideways at the camera, the shot was taken at a wild spot of hillside with a group of rocks at the top. By the end of Moore’s career, that wild high place had been surrounded by homes on three sides and a highway on the fourth.
Which may be how part of the West was lost.
Much of the book is about Moore’s career as the Lone Ranger with his faithful sidekick Tonto, who really was Jay Silverheels, a genuine Native American from a Canadian Tribe. A bit too much on details that weren’t pertinent to the scene, but interesting just the same. Toward the end of the book, Moore has grown older and for awhile is forbidden by the movie company, which made the Lone Ranger series, from wearing a mask during the many shows he attended to bring the Lone Ranger to the audiences. At that time, another actor was playing the Lone Ranger. So Moore wore heavy sunglasses instead of the mask.
I’m trying to picture the Lone Ranger wearing heavy sunglasses. Maybe if he were riding a motorcycle instead of Silver or even driving a convertible.
Eventually, the movie company allowed Moore to wear the mask again.
Moore’s growing older but insisting on doing the Lone Ranger shows seemed a bit depressing to me. We all grow older, but I’m not sure it should be permitted for us to relive our past lives. (Of course, I wouldn’t like to see us all killed off at a given age to prevent us from growing elderly, as I once read in a story.)
If you, as you read this, have any favorable memories of watching the Lone Ranger in action, you may want to find a copy of the book. I did ride again with him via the hardcopy I found at our town recycling center. At Amazon.com, a paperback version is available at $14.99 and a Kindle at $9.99.
It’s an interesting read about not only the Lone Ranger and Moore, but about your own past as you recall where you watched those favorite Westerns.
His TV introduction, as recorded in the book, concludes with, “Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear. Out of the past come the thundering hoofbeats of the great horse Silver. The Lone Ranger rides again!”
Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Milton M. Gross Copyright 2014