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Clayton Moore Photo
September 14, 1914 - December 28, 1999

Museum Entrance    They predicted rain for the Sunday memorial ceremony for Clayton Moore January 16th at the Gene Autry Western Museum in Los Angeles. My son Chris and I did not care, we had to be there to say goodbye to the man who had made the Lone Ranger live on the screen and actually made himself into the embodiment of that character. Entry Sign

Many years ago, my three sons and I met Moore and Silver at the opening of one of the Lone Ranger Restaurants where he was making a personal appearance. Now, here we were at the closing of his public life.

LAPD guards
    As we made our way up the path to the Museum, a line of mounted policemen met us. At the head of that line stood Silver, older and grayer and temporarily out of retirement,Silver there to bid a silent goodbye to his riding partner. He wore the very saddle that the Lone Ranger sat upon as he rode the dusty trails of the old west. Moore’s daughter, Dawn, stood beside the horse holding his bridle.

Guest Book
    Once inside the main patio area, we signed the guest book and received a Memorial leaflet with a picture of Moore and a list of the guest speakers. The Lone Ranger’s Creed was printed inside and it was a piece of memorabilia to treasure.

Theater Entrance    As the hour drew near for things to start, a crowd began to assemble. The threatening skies went unheeded. Many cowboys in Old West gear milled around exchanging stories of their movie days. Many were familiar, but their names were a blur. A man wandered around wearing a Lone Ranger tee shirt he had purchased in the gift shop.

Moore's Lone Ranger Hat and Guns     In the middle of the patio was a glass case that held the actual Lone Ranger mask, hat and brace of two six shooters in their holsters. How many times had Clayton Moore donned that gear and transformed himself in the Lone Ranger? Too many times to count. To us fans, he had actually become the Lone Ranger. Moore often had said that his childhood goal in life was to either be a policeman or a cowboy. In the Lone Ranger, he had accomplished both ambitions.

Photo of a TV monitor    The small auditorium only held about 250 people, so only invited guests and speakers were inside. The rest of our crowd, numbering about 200, watched the event over closed circuit TV monitors in the patio. It was still a moving experience. Producer Rob Word emceed the event. Tributes were given by actors Rand Brooks, Johnny Crawford, Alex Cord and Leonard Maltin.

    Rand Brooks had worked with Moore at the onset of his career in The Son of Monte Cristo. He recounted tales of their struggles as starving, young unknowns. Speaking of his genuine admiration and love for the man, Brooks found it hard to fight back the tears as he spoke. Genuinely moved, he said, “ I never, in all my years, ever heard Clayton say…” Brooks paused and then wiped away his tears. “He never said one bad word about anyone, anyone.”

    Johnny Crawford of the Rifleman, who had acted in some episodes of the Lone Ranger as a child actor, said: “ He never let you down. Clayton was always a gentleman, down to earth, always friendly, upbeat and full of energy. There’ll never be anyone like him…he WAS the Lone Ranger.”

    Alex Cord recounted with a touch of humor and admiration his respect for the character of the Lone Ranger as portrayed by Moore.

    Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antanovich proclaimed Moore “a hero” and presented Moore’s Daughter Dawn and widow Clarita with a tribute voted by the Los Angeles County Supervisor’s Office.

    Between the speeches, clips of Moore’s career were shown and the crowd responded loudly at the sound of the William Tell overture. Clayton’s last public appearance at the 1998 Golden Boot Awards, where he was inducted into the hall of fame was shown. It was clear that he was ailing, but he rose to the occasion and gave out a hearty HI YO SILVER at the end of his appearance.

    The outpouring of love for this man was evident throughout the morning. The Wrather Corporation that had taken the mask away from Moore did not fare as well; quite a few barbed comments were thrown. Five years of legal battles finally restored the mask to the real Lone Ranger, Clayton Moore. Leonard Maltin proclaimed; “Some people, some actors will complain about typecasting. That never worried Clayton, in part because he loved the role so much.”

    How proud the day made me to have been the one to introduce this kind man and hero into the lives of my three young sons so many years ago. My son Chris and I left the ceremony with a renewed respect for this man no longer with us in life, but who will be there always through the miracle of film and video. His example of truth and justice lives on.

Adios, Kimo Sabe.

Tom Mason
January 19, 2000

Photos by Chris Mason

NOTE: While we realize that everyone assumes the correct spelling is "Kemo Sabe", we have chosen to go with the spelling used at the Memorial.
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