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The Lone Ranger made his debut on radio January 30, 1933. The radio series ran until September 3, 1954. It produced somewhere between 2,900 and 3,100 episodes (reports vary). The radio series was enormously successful and the Lone Ranger spun off into other media.
Lone Ranger creator Fran Striker published 16 Lone Ranger novels from 1936-1956. Two film serials were produced (though these do not follow the accepted story of the Ranger) in 1936 and 1939. A Lone Ranger daily newspaper strip ran from September 1938 until December 1971. Dell comics ran 145 issues from 1948-1962, plus 4 special issues, a Tonto spin-off series and a Silver spin-off series. Gold Key took over the comics and published 28 issues from 1964-1977.
The most popular and successful interpretation of the character was, of course, the television series. Starring Clayton Moore as the Lone Ranger and Jay Silverheels as Tonto (with John Hart replacing Moore for season 3), the Lone Ranger TV show ran from September 15, 1949 until June 6, 1957, and ran heavily in reruns until the 1980s. The series produced 221 original episodes, and Moore and Silverheels starred in two big screen Lone Ranger feature films: ‘The Lone Ranger’ in 1956 and ‘The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold’ in 1958. There were also two Lone Ranger animated series, one in 1966 and one in 1980-1981 (as part of the Tarzan/Lone Ranger/Zorro Adventure Hour).
After 1981’s poorly received ‘The Legend of the Lone Ranger’ feature, starring Klinton Spillsbury, the character kind of faded away from the mainstream. That film suffered tremendously before it was ever released. Clayton Moore had been making personal appearances in the Lone Ranger costume since the TV show debuted. The producers of the new movie didn’t want two Lone Rangers running around, so they took legal action to prevent Moore from appearing with the Ranger mask on. This was a PR disaster and really hurt the new movie before it was even complete.
In 1994 Topps Comics tried to revive the character with a 4 issue mini-series, but had limited success. In 2003 the WB produced a 2-hour Lone Ranger TV movie that was supposed to be a series pilot. The producers changed the story so much it was barely recognizable, and heavily targeted their story toward the ‘Dawson’s Creek’ fanbase. That movie was also very poorly received, and a new series never produced.
This bring us to 2006 and the best received interpretation of the character since the Clayton Moore TV series – Dynamite Entertainment’s new Lone Ranger comic book series. The critical response for this series is almost unanimously positive, and Dynamite has announced it will be an ongoing title.