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Last week we remembered Hopalong Cassidy, a Saturday morning, western, television hero. Hopalong visited Utica back in 1955 as a representative of his sponsor Dairylea and paraded down Genesee Street. Then he rode his horse over Lafayette Street to the Hotel Utica and shook hands and handed out souvenir pins to kids, including yours truly.
Hopalong’s real name was William Boyd. He smiled a lot.
The Lone Ranger’s real name was Clayton Moore. He didn’t smile as much.
The Lone Ranger might have been more popular than Hopalong, although some Saturday morning television fans might question that. Whatever, I and millions of other kids had substantial amounts of their products, including toy guns and lunch boxes.
When it comes to Hopalong and the Lone Ranger, two things are for sure. One, I never missed either show. Two, despite the smiling thing, Hopalong and the Lone Ranger had much in common, including “truth, justice and the American way.”
Oh wait, I’m getting my heroes confused. That was Superman, whose comic books I also collected along with Hopalong’s and the Lone Ranger’s.
A new comic book came out for each of them once a week and cost ten cents. My collection was just about complete. Today that collection would be worth some money if I could find it.
Another thing the two had in common was that they never changed outfits. Hopalong dressed all in black all the time. The Lone Ranger, who always wore a mask, always wore a blueish outfit, not a very rugged look, but it worked for him. Both of them always wore a scarf.
Both rode a white horse, Topper belonged to Hopalong. Silver was the Lone Ranger’s ride.
Both had sidekicks. Hopalong had the bearded and talkative Gabby Hayes. The Lone Ranger had his quiet Indian companion Tonto, who didn’t say much beyond “kemo sabe,” a term of endearment which translates to "trusty scout" or "faithful friend."
Both Hopalong and the Lone Ranger wore two guns on their belts and were deadly accurate shots with either hand, although they never killed anyone. They shot the bad guys in the arms or shot the guns out of their hands.
Both were also good with their fists and landed more than a few knockout punches.
But when it came to show openings, the Lone Ranger’s had it all over Hopalong’s, which I can’t even remember.
“The Lone Ranger Show” opened with him racing down a trail on Silver. Said the announcer, "A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty "Hi Yo Silver!"
I was excited before the show even began. The background music was the William Tell overture, although I thought at the time that the music was written for the Lone Ranger.
“With his faithful Indian companion Tonto, the daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains, led the fight for law and order in the early west. Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear. The Lone Ranger rides again!"
Back in the 1980s I interviewed Clayton Moore. I can’t remember much about the interview except that I didn’t care for his personality and he wasn’t at all what I expected of the masked man. But he was in a lawsuit at the time, which might explain his irritability. He was fighting for the right to be able to wear the mask in public and to be the Lone Ranger, which he really believed himself to be. Eventually, he got to wear the mask again.
Hopalong died in 1972 at age 77. The Lone Ranger died in 1999 at age 85.
Now if only I could find those comic books.