(From the 1st Lone Ranger Serial: left to right -
Lee Powell, George Letz, Hal Taliaferro, Lane Chandler, and Herman Brix.)
By 1937, The Lone Ranger radio program was popular, and George Trendle (owner of the Lone Ranger Radio Programs) wanted to see if the character was saleable to Hollywood. In June, 1937, a contract was signed between Trendle and Republic Pictures for a cliffhanger based on the Lone Ranger and Tonto. Trendle/The Lone Ranger, Inc. was paid $18,750.00 plus 10% of any rental share above a $390,000.00 minimum. The agreement also allowed Republic to release a condensed version of the serial (which they did in 1940 with the feature HI-YO SILVER).
The main issue between Republic and Trendle was that the Lone Ranger would unmask in Chapter 15, revealing himself as Allen King (played by Lee Powell). Trendle didn't like this unmasking, but the contract gave Republic final authority on the script and characterizations. Apparently, any issues/arguments were solved when Republic gave Trendle the music from the serial (and much of that music was used by Trendle in subsequent Lone Ranger radio broadcasts).
The first 1938 Republic serial version of THE LONE RANGER muddies the "true identity" waters of the Lone Ranger by offering us five heroes, any one of whom might be the Ranger. The five leading men are picked off one by one by the outlaw leader, until only the genuine Ranger is left. There's nothing like process of elimination to solve a mystery; this process takes 15 full episodes.
The Lone Ranger candidates are played by Lee Powell, Lane Chandler, Herman Brix (aka Bruce Bennett), Hal Taliaferro (aka Wally Wales) and George Letz (aka George Montgomery). See Picture above.
Released in February, 1938, THE LONE RANGER serial was a huge financial success for both Republic and Trendle. The serial also created new interest in the radio version and an additional hundred or so station picked up the show. King Features even came out with a comic strip.
HI-YO SILVER, the approx 70 minute feature version of THE LONE RANGER (Republic, 1938) serial was released by VCI Entertainment and Goodtimes Video circa 2001. Both appear to be no longer available. In January, 2008, Amazon had some used copies of HI-YO SILVER in VHS and DVD.
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1a. The Lone Ranger (1938) - Lee Powell [1st Serial]
1b. Another location for -->The Lone Ranger Serial
===============================================The second serial:
The audio has also been restored for the DVD version, which has much sharper picture quality than this YouTube version. For more information visit www.serialsquadron.com
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