Clayton Moore was an American actor best known for playing the fictional western character the Lone Ranger from 1949–1951 and 1954–1957 on the television series of the same name. Born Jack Carlton Moore in Chicago, Illinois, Moore became a circus acrobat by age 8 and appeared at the Century of Progress exposition in Chicago in 1934 with a trapeze act. He graduated from Stephen K. Hayt Elementary School, Sullivan Junior High School and Senn High School on the far Northside of Chicago. As a young man, Moore worked successfully as a John Robert Powers model. Moving to Hollywood in the late 1930s, he worked as a stunt man and bit player between modeling jobs. According to his 1996 autobiography I Was That Masked Man, around 1940, Hollywood producer Edward Small persuaded him to adopt the stage name "Clayton" Moore. He was an occasional player in B westerns and the lead in four Republic Studio cliffhangers, and two for Columbia. Moore served in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II and made training films (Target--Invisible, etc.) with the First Motion Picture Unit.
Moore's career advanced in 1949, when George Trendle spotted him in the Ghost of Zorro serial. As creator-producer of The Lone Ranger radio show (with writer Fran Striker), Trendle was about to launch the television version, and Moore landed the role. Moore trained his voice to sound like the radio version of The Lone Ranger, which had then been on the air since 1933, and succeeded in lowering his already distinctive baritone even further. With the first notes of Rossini's "William Tell Overture", Moore and co-star Jay Silverheels, as the Indian companion Tonto, made history as the stars of the first western written specifically for television.The Lone Ranger soon became the highest-rated program to that point on the fledgling ABC network and its first true hit. It earned anEmmy Award nomination in 1950. Moore starred in 169 episodes of the series.
The premise of The Lone Ranger is that all of the Texas Rangers except one, unidentified by name (and later wearing a black mask), were massacred. The surviving Ranger and Tonto roam the American West helping the downtrodden do battle with the lawless element wherever it is found. Glenn Strange in the early episodes played Butch Cavendish, the outlaw responsible for the massacre of the Rangers. Moore's career advanced in 1949, when George Trendle spotted him in the Ghost of Zorro serial. As creator-producer of The Lone Ranger radio show (with writer Fran Striker), Trendle was about to launch the television version, and Moore landed the role. After two successful years presenting a new episode every week, 52 weeks a year, Moore was fired and left the series, for reasons he never knew, according to his book I Was That Masked Man. As "Clay Moore", he made a few more westerns and serials, sometimes playing the villain. Moore was replaced for the third season by actor John Hart. Eventually the producers of The Lone Ranger rehired Moore (it is believed that fan acceptance of Hart in the role was low), and he remained with the program until it ended first-run production in 1957.