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April 17, 2014 7:41 am

Lone Ranger’s revolver acquired by BBCW

Actor John Hart played ‘The Lone Ranger’ for 52 episodes from 1952-54 and returned to the role twice in 1980s TV shows. Actor John Hart played ‘The Lone Ranger’ for 52 episodes from 1952-54 and returned to the role twice in 1980s TV shows. Courtesy photo

Hold onto your mask, Kemosabe.

Forget about Johnny Depp and his ill-fated attempt to revive “The Lone Ranger” franchise. A relic from the glory days of the 1950s, when the Lone Ranger and his faithful companion Tonto chased bad guys in a weekly TV series, has landed at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody.

The BBCW has acquired the Lone Ranger revolver belonging to actor John Hart; it is on display in the center’s Cody Firearms Museum.

Hart carried the Colt .45, a single-action Army revolver, when he portrayed “the masked man” in the original series between 1952-54. It was one of several he used throughout his acting career.

The firearm’s coverage engraving and steer head ivory grips, completed by master engraver Ben Shostle, make this firearm particularly striking. To any lover of Westerns and firearms, this gun is truly a must see.

In his early career, Hart appeared mostly in Westerns. He played many minor roles in some fairly well-known films, but audiences remember him most for replacing Clayton Moore in 1952 for 52 episodes over two seasons of the television show “The Lone Ranger” when Moore demanded a higher salary.

Hart, who died at 91 in 2009, returned to the role in 1981 for a guest spot in the TV series “The Greatest American Hero” and again in 1982 for a role on “Happy Days.”

He played a newspaper editor in the 1981 film “The Legend of the Lone Ranger,” which also flopped at the box office.

Along with the revolver, the center also acquired autographed photos of Hart in costume and an unconventional cookbook, “Cowboys in the Kitchen,” that he penned in the 1990s. The book is more of an anecdotal memoir of Hollywood tales, cheeky hunting advice and even a section on “women and liquor.”

This book provides some levity in the kitchen and shows off the personality of the man behind the gun.

The Cody Firearms Museum has placed the Lone Ranger revolver and accouterments on display in its “Hollywood guns” exhibit case. For more information, contact Curator Warren Newman, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 307-578-4092, or Assistant Curator Ashley Hlebinsky, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , 307-578-4048, or visit her firearms blog, Unloading the Myth.

If you contact them, feel free to add “Hi-yo Silver!” to your comments.

3 comments

  • Comment Link April 28, 2014 7:43 pm posted by Frank

    I had the honor of knowing Clayton Moore for a few years when I lived and worked at Lake Tahoe back in the mid 70's. I worked security at the Nevada Lodge Casino on the north shore of the lake and had breakfast with Mr.Moore almost every morning.We talked a lot about his career as the Lone Ranger. I never had the pleasure of meeting John Hart but I sure miss the show,I grew up with it.

  • Comment Link April 28, 2014 8:30 pm posted by Henry Baldwin

    I would need to see a screen shot of John Hart using the colt .45 that the Buffalo Bill Center claims John Hart used on screen as the Lone Ranger. I've seen this colt and it has a steer skull on the grip. That skull is something that the Lone Ranger would not have had engraved on the grips of his weapon, meaning that the producers would not have allowed. In fact, the Lone Ranger's on screen gun grip was smooth.

  • Comment Link April 29, 2014 5:50 am posted by Joe DeCicco

    YOU OPPSED... Here is the full story

    After two successful years presenting a new episode every week, 52 weeks a year, Moore had a pay dispute and left the series. As "Clay Moore", he made a few more westerns and serials, sometimes playing the villain. Moore was replaced for a time by actor John Hart. Eventually the producers of The Lone Ranger came to terms and rehired Moore, and he remained with the program until it ended first-run production in 1957. He and Jay Silverheels also starred in two feature-length Lone Ranger motion pictures. Moore appeared in other television series too, including a role in the 1952 episode "Snake River Trapper" of Bill Williams's syndicated western, The Adventures of Kit Carson. He appeared twice on Jock Mahoney's syndicated western series, The Range Rider, as Martin Wickett in "Ambush in Coyote Canyon" in 1952 and as Dan Meighan in "The Saga of Silver Town" in 1953.

    After completion of the second feature, The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold in 1958, Moore embarked on what would be 40 years of personal appearances, TV guest spots, and classic commercials as the legendary masked man. Silverheels joined him for occasional appearances during the early 1960s. Throughout his career, Moore expressed respect and love for Silverheels.

    The Finale or "cavalry charge" of the The William Tell Overture by Gioachino Rossini was used as the theme music for The Lone Ranger in the movies, serials, television and on radio and for Lark (cigarette) television commercials in the 1960s. Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels appeared in Stan Freberg's Jeno's Pizza Rolls commercial, incorporating all three cultural icons.

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