Clayton Moore

Active - 1938 - 1966  |   Born - Sep 14, 1914 in Chicago, IL  |   Died - Dec 28, 1999 in West Hills, CA  |   Genres - Western, Action

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A circus acrobat from the age of eight, Clayton Moore had performed as an aerialist with two circuses and at one World's Fair before turning 20. He became a male model in New York, then struck out for Hollywood in 1938 to seek out acting jobs. He began at the bottom rung as an extra, worked his way up to stunt man, and by 1939 was playing nondescript supporting roles. Alternating between heroes and villains in serials and B-Westerns, Moore didn't strike professional gold until 1949, when he was selected to play the "masked rider of the west" in the TV version of The Lone Ranger. He remained with the series until 1952, when he walked off the show over a salary dispute. His replacement for 26 episodes was John Hart, who had neither the bearing nor the stirring vocal timbre that had distinguished Moore's performances. Briefly returning to serials, Moore was brought back into the Lone Ranger fold in 1954 at a much higher weekly compensation. He stayed with the series until its last episode in 1956, and also starred in two Technicolor Lone Ranger theatrical features. Thereafter, Moore made a good living trading on his Lone Ranger image in TV commercials and personal appearances. In 1978, the Wrather Corporation, which owned the Lone Ranger property and was about to embark on a new feature film based on the character, served Moore with a court order barring him from appearing in public in the Ranger mask and costume. The outpouring of public support and sympathy eventually forced the Wrather people to reverse their decision, but it should be noted that they weren't quite the Scrooges depicted in the press: Throughout the 1970s, Clayton Moore made many appearances as the Lone Ranger without paying the necessary licensing fee to Wrather.

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