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'Lone Ranger' back in the saddle

The first two seasons of the 1949-1957 TV western are here in a new 13-disc set. A film is also in the works.

November 12, 2008|Susan King | King is a Times staff writer.

"A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty 'Hi-yo, Silver, away!' "

The Lone Ranger rides again.

In honor of the masked man's 75th anniversary, a 13-disc DVD collector's edition was released earlier this week that features the first two seasons of "The Lone Ranger" television series that ran from 1949 to 1957 and starred Clayton Moore as the title character and Jay Silverheels as Tonto. The package also includes an 88-page commemorative book, posters, trading cards and an installment from the "Lone Ranger" radio show.

The DVD release follows a September announcement by uber-producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Walt Disney Pictures that they will make another big-screen adaptation about the beloved hero of the Old West. No word yet on who might take on the lead role, but the talk is that Johnny Depp will play Tonto, the Ranger's faithful companion.

Who knows how Hollywood will handle the television classic, but on the small screen the Lone Ranger always remained faithful to his creed -- largely thanks to the guidelines established by his creators, Fran Striker and George W. Trendle. Among the rules: The Lone Ranger would never be seen without a mask or disguise, would always use perfect grammar and would never shoot to kill but only to disarm his enemy.

Joe Southern, president of the Lone Ranger Fan Club, based in Amarillo, Texas, and editor of the Silver Bullet Newsletter, became a fan more than 40 years ago while watching reruns as a kid.

"The character speaks to people on a different level than a lot of the heroes you have today, like your Spider-Man or Superman," said Southern. "There was always a right or a wrong or a good and a bad. That wasn't a bad thing to learn."

"The Lone Ranger" premiered Jan. 30, 1933, on WXYZ radio in Detroit. Over the last seven decades, there have been about 3,000 radio shows, more than 200 TV episodes, 18 novels, hundreds of comic books, feature films and even a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

"The Lone Ranger" could owe some of its popularity and longevity to the show's classic theme song: the finale to Rossini's "William Tell Overture."

"If you ask any person, literally, in the country who they think of when they think of the West and the quintessential western hero, they'll say the Lone Ranger," says Nicole Blake, senior vice president of marketing for Entertainment Rights, the company that owns the "Lone Ranger" franchise.

Blake contends that the Lone Ranger is very much a contemporary hero.

"He believes in morality, is always fighting for what's right," she said. "He stands for America the beautiful, country, friendship and commitment to the truth -- because truth alone will live forever."

susan.king@latimes.com

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