Friday, February 14, 2020

Memories of Robert Conrad

Earlier this week we heard about the passing of Robert Conrad, the athletic, two-fisted actor who starred as Secret Service agent James West on the television program, The Wild Wild West. He was 84. Conrad was among the many actors employed by Warner Bros. Television to appear on the studio's stable of programs starting in the 1950s, and first gained attention for playing Tom Lopaka, a partner in a detective agency, on ABC's Hawaiian Eye. Rarely screened on television today, Hawaiian Eye was among the detective programs worthy of revisiting -- including 77 Sunset Strip, Surfside Six and Bourbon Street Beat.


In 2016, Robert Conrad was among the celebrity guests at the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention. You know that event where Hollywood actors spend three days signing autographs for fans outside Baltimore, Maryland, every September? Yep, Conrad was there. And he was a real trooper, too. Where most celebrities stopped signing to get dinner around 5 or 6 pm (which is when the autograph lines tend to die down for the day) Conrad's line was still outside the hotel. People reportedly stood in line for four hours to get his autograph.


Perhaps no better tribute to Robert Conrad can be found than the following story Carla Cathcart, an attendee of the convention, posted on Facebook.

I met him that day. He was amazing. The line was long, and just as I got to his table, one of the staff announced, "Mr. Conrad will be taking a break now." To which Robert announced, "The hell I will! These wonderful people have been waiting for a long time, and I'm gonna sit here until I can't sit any longer or my hand gives out, so why don't YOU take a break?!" The staff member just laughed and asked him to let him know if he needed anything. Then, it was finally my turn to meet him, and his smile and those blue eyes still looked wonderful. I joked with him, and said "tough guys don't take breaks, do they?" He laughed, and said, "That's right, Sweetheart." After getting his autograph, I got a photo with him. I'm so very thankful that I got to meet him.

Thank you, Mr. Conrad, for your never-give-up, and be-comfortable-being-yourself attitude. Meeting you was REALLY special and inspiring!!! I won't forget that day - or you.




Friday, February 7, 2020

The Origin of OUR MISS BROOKS

A few weeks ago, while finishing a brief write-up about the origin of radio’s Our Miss Brooks and having consulted archival documents and industry trade columns, I made the mistake of browsing the web for consultation. 

Wikipedia, always proving the adage that you should never believe everything on the internet, incorrectly claims Lucille Ball was second in line for the role after Shirley Booth departed. “Lucille Ball was believed to have been the next choice, but she was committed to My Favorite Husband and did not audition. Then CBS chairman Bill Paley, who was friendly with Arden, persuaded her to audition for the part.” Wikipedia cites John Dunning’s On the Air (1998, Oxford University Press) as the source for this information but a careful review of Dunning’s book verifies the author never made such a statement.

Dunning’s book never even acknowledges Lucille Ball, let alone the Shirley Booth audition. As evident more often today than it used to be years ago, false attribution is now commonplace on Wikipedia. Many people (though not all of them) who submit information on Wikipedia have, on numerous entries for old-time radio programs, deliberately puffed up the credentials or credibility of a source to enhance an argument that was not accurate to begin with. 

This is not to say Lucille Ball was not proposed for the role of Connie Brooks at one time but, at present, nothing has been found to verify this claim beyond Internet blogs and Wikipedia. News blurbs in a number of industry trade papers, however, claim Joan Blondell was immediately up for consideration following Booth. The April 21, 1948, issue of Variety reported that Shirley Booth was no longer involved and “CBS is now trying to line up Joan Blondell instead.” One week later, on April 28, Variety provided a follow-up: “Negotiations for Joan Blondell to step into the lead role of the new CBS comedy initially intended for Shirley Booth have been temporarily stalemated. Miss Blondell is embarking on a vaudeville tour with Milton Berle, opening at the Pittsburgh Gardens April 30. Although the deal appears set for her to take on the radio program, it’ll probably mean holding up the audition for a couple of months until she is at liberty again.” (Note how I cited my sources for these factoids, which anyone can verify by consulting April 21 and 28 issues of Variety.)

So it seems proper as the new school season begins during this time of the year that we revisit the true origin of Our Miss Brooks, which premiered on CBS Radio, July 19, 1948. Within eight months of its launch as a regular series, the show landed several honors, including four for Eve Arden, who won popularity polls in four individual publications of the time. Not bad when you consider Eve Arden was the third choice to play the title role.

Seven months before the premiere, on December 19, 1947, Shirley Booth was approached by Harry Ackerman, at the time CBS’s West Coast director of programming, to star on a weekly radio comedy. Booth was presently playing the recurring role of Dottie Mahoney on Fred Allen’s radio program, reprising the same Brooklyn accent she emanated on Duffy’s Tavern. The actress played the role of Miss Duffy until 1943 when she divorced Ed Gardner, her real-life husband and star of Duffy’s Tavern. CBS was at that time conducting business deals with numerous radio personalities affiliated with NBC, including Jack Benny and Amos and Andy, and it was William S. Paley’s suggestion that Booth could be shaped into a new radio personality that would dominate prime time. 

On December 22, Booth agreed provided the radio program originated from New York City, where she was entertaining offers to do Broadway. Paley personally took control of the negotiations, ensuring the actress that the radio program would be pre-recorded to accommodate her potential stage career.

By mid-February 1948, Don Ettlinger completed the radio script in which he ensured Paley, “Shirley will get completely away from her Miss Duffy identity, and play the straight role of a school teacher.” The script was twice tweaked by Norman Tokar, script writer for The Aldrich Family,until the last week of March when Edward Downes joined the CBS network staff to produce the radio sitcom and take over direction for Marriage for Two

On April 9, 1948, an audition was recorded at the studios of CBS. That audition recording exists and today provides us with a fascinating rendition of the program, for comparison, against the Eve Arden broadcasts that were to follow. A few days later, Paley listened to the audition and voiced disapproval on the grounds of Booth’s performance. 

Shirley Booth used her ever-familiar Brooklyn accent and Paley wanted to avoid a New York motif. On April 16, a second audition was recorded with Booth performing without her trademark Brooklyn accent. This led to Booth and Paley exchanging opinions on how she should play the role. Troubles and temperaments abound, which led to Booth walking away and Paley asking Ackerman to seek a new actress for the lead.

CBS, meanwhile, was working on a new Cy Howard-inspired program titled Little Immigrant. The audition would be recorded in mid-June 1948 with J. Carrol Naish in the lead; re-titled Life with Luigi in mid-September. Development of new CBS radio comedies were part and parcel of the network’s recent policy to develop in-house without advertising agencies. Paley assured the board at CBS that television was around the corner and programs that build a following on radio would transition well to television. With CBS owning fifty percent, profits were assured. Up until 1947, CBS acted primarily as a conduit between ad agencies and sponsors, providing the facilities for broadcasting at a rental price. Paley wanted the network to own a piece of the action and programs such as Our Miss Brooks was, in his mind, a sure-fire means of accomplishing this goal. 


The second actress to be consulted was Joan Blondell, as referenced earlier in this article. To date there has been nothing to lead historians into believing an audition was recorded with Blondell in the role.

In May of 1948, Eve Arden stopped over in Chicago (on her way back from a publicity tour in New York City) to meet with Paley, who was in the Windy City for business. The two dined in the famous pump room of Ambassador East, danced for a spell and discussed the possibility of her starring in a weekly radio comedy. A few days later Arden met with Harry Ackerman and Hubbell Robinson at the Beverly Hills Hotel to read the script. “When they sensed that I wasn’t too interested in the script or in doing radio, they said that two very good new writers, Al Lewis and Joe Quillan, had been given the script and would have a new one for me to read soon,” Arden later recalled. “A week later, Harry took me to dinner at Chasen’s and the script was so vastly improved that I laughed out loud as I read it between courses.”

On June 8, 1948, Eve Arden agreed to play the lead role for Our Miss Brooks, signing on the bottom line during that same week. Interestingly, Arden never cut a rehearsal recording or audition until June 23. The initial intention was to launch Our Miss Brooks on July 5, later pushed to July 12 and again to July 19, after producer Larry Berns informed the network that it would take a week or two longer to avoid rushing into production. On July 1, Paley listened to the audition and signed off with his approval, acknowledging Eve Arden was perfect for the role and “an improvement” compared to Shirley Booth. (Both Booth auditions, and the Eve Arden audition features different supporting cast members and a different theme song than we are familiar with today.)

On July 19, 1948, Our Miss Brooks premiered as a sustainer, with the network seeking a sponsor. Colgate reportedly dropped the Kay Kyser show and was seeking a new program, including a radio version of I Remember Mama under development. Our Miss Brooks was heavily pitched to the ad agency representing Colgate, with a proposed $8,000 weekly price tag (plus agency commission). The company responsible for tooth paste signed on as a sponsor after listening to the first three broadcasts and a careful review of the ratings that were steadily climbing.

“The only problem was that I’d planned to spend the summer in Connecticut with my kids,” Arden later recalled, “at the Amsters’ farm. I said if they could tape the 13 scripts before I left, it would be fine… one day Frank Stanton, then president of CBS, called me at the Amsters’ farm and said, ‘Congratulations!’”

“‘For what?’ I asked.”

Our Miss Brooks is the number one program on the air,’ he answered.”

Showing no hard feelings against Shirley Booth, at Paley’s suggestion, CBS made the actress a firm offer for the weekly supporting role of Jane Stacy on My Friend Irma, to replace Joan Banks. The letter, dated October 10, 1948, offered Booth 13-week cycles after an eight week “probationary” period. Cathy Lewis, who played the role of Jane Stacy, was on leave by doctor’s orders and Joan Banks was merely filling in temporarily. By this time Booth had signed for Goodbye, My Fancy, set to premiere on November 17, and required free time to participate in rehearsals. She declined the offer. (Booth would ultimately receive her first Tony Award for Best Supporting or Featured Actress (Dramatic) for her performance as Grace Woods in Goodbye, My Fancy.)

Eve Arden never won a Tony Award but she would receive numerous awards for her role as Connie Brooks on both the radio and television renditions of Our Miss Brooks. She won a radio listener’s poll by Radio Mirror magazine as the top-ranking comedienne of 1948-49. A winter 1949 poll of newspaper and magazine radio editors taken by Motion Picture Daily named her the year’s best comedienne. According to the Museum of Broadcast Communications, she was made an honorary member of the National Education Association and received a 1952 award from the Teacher College of Connecticut’s Alumni Association “for humanizing the American Teacher.”

Just three months ago CBS finally released the first season of the TV series. We can only hope for Season Two in the near future. 

MYTH DEBUNKED
Debunking another myth that has is circulating on the Internet, Eve Arden’s adopted daughter, Connie, was never named after the character Arden played on radio. Connie was adopted months before Arden was even approached to play the role of Connie Brooks, schoolteacher, and Arden’s own confession in her autobiography verifies this: “I named the baby Connie, for my friend Connie Raffetto.”

TRIVIA
For amusement, check out the November 1, 1948, broadcast of Let George Do It, titled “The Flowers That Smelled of Murder.” Jeff Chandler, as fans of the radio comedy know, played the role of Mr. Boynton on Our Miss Brooks, and plays a brief role in the detective story. In this episode, a co-ed suspects that her professor of botany is about to be murdered. Jeff Chandler played the naïve, bashful biology teacher talking with George Valentine’s pretty assistant (whose name is Miss Brooks). 

POST-SCRIPT
This article appeared in the August 2019 issue of RADIO RECALL. As Wikipedia changes by the day (some entries by the hour), the statement above about the Lucille Ball reference may not be on Wikipedia by the time you read this. Be assured, the incorrect statement of Lucille Ball and false attribution was there, with screen capture below to verify.



Special thanks to Mark and Martha Bush for assistance with this article.


Friday, January 31, 2020

The Lost Gloria Swanson Movies

Gloria Swanson
Gloria Swanson, a favorite of director Cecil B. DeMille during the silent era, became an actress as a result of being in the right place at the right time. When her aunt took her to visit Essanay Studios in 1913, the soon-to-be actress was captivated by the new technology and the costumes and makeup and lights and everything that went into dramatic acting. She was quickly hired as an extra and rose up the ranks when Mack Sennett hired her for a series of short films. Comedy was not her style and the actress went to work for Triangle Studios in 1917. Her serious dramas there garnished the attention of Cecil B. DeMille, who cast her in Don't Change Your Husband (1919), complimenting the format DeMille wanted to expose in every one of his pictures -- the glories of sin and the comeuppance of adultry, coveting and greed.

By 1920, Gloria Swanson had been on the cover of every major movie magazine and became a box office star. Famous Players-Lasky (which later became Paramount Pictures), treated their salary contract players like cattle and steered Swanson into movies without DeMille's name and the director was left to find a new leading lady for his pictures. The rational thinking of the studios was to separate two commercial properties and double their box office returns.... and it worked. By 1926, she was making $6,500 a week (over $3.5 million a year by today's standards). She took a financial and career risk by turning down a $1 million salary from the studio to form her own production company, with Joseph Kennedy.

Kino on Video DVD Release
In 1928, she starred in Sadie Thompson, the first film version of Somerset Maugham's classic story "Miss Thompson," which established her status as a screen legend. The movie featured the creative talents of Gloria Swanson, Lionel Barrymore, Raoul Walsh, art director William Cameron Menzies and cameramen George Barnes and Oliver Marsh, at the height of their careers. Swanson and Barnes were nominated for Oscars, in what was the first year of the Academy Awards. Sadie Thompson proved to be a landmark of the silent era and is considered required viewing for people studying silent movies. Perhaps, its greatest achievement was the film's uncompromising translation of Maugham's controversial story of a San Francisco prostitute and a South Pacific reformer. She plays the title role who prowls the South Seas seducing U.S. Marines until she runs afoul of a religious hypocrite (Lionel Barrymore) who claims he wants to save her soul but cannot resist her body. Swanson correctly maintained that the film's silence was its greatest asset, for the churches and Hays office could not censor what they couldn't hear.

Why Change Your Wife? (1920)
The tragedy of Sadie Thompson is that, for many decades, the last scenes were missing from the sole existing print. A lack of film preservation over the decades (often described by many as the studio's lack of concern when weighed against the budget required to maintain their film archive) is the reason why we do not have the opportunity to view the closing chapter of the story. In 1987, Kino International funding a restoration of the final minutes, carefully recreated, using the original script, the Swanson's personal collection of stills, film footage where appropriate, and an orchestral score commissioned for the completed film.

Neglected and forgotten over the years, Sadie Thompsonhas emerged as an important triumph in the silent era, and Swanson's greatest performance ever.... or you can debate against her gutsy comeback in Sunset Boulevard (1950). She made a successful transition to sound in 1929 but the failure of Music in the Air (1934) left a bad taste in her mouth. Swanson left Hollywood for semi-retirement. In 1949, writer-director Billy Wilder offered her a comeback role as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, now considered one of the 100 greatest movies ever made and a major influence for film noir. She received critical acclaim, an Oscar nomination and chose to return to the stage instead of the silver screen. Taking a page from numerous silent stars who chose other forms of generating an annual salary, she hosted her own afternoon radio talk show and created her own fashion line (Gowns by Gloria).

Male and Female (1919)
This latter part of her career comes as no surprise. During the height of her career, Swanson was a trend setter and is credited as having become the first fashion influence. After all, movies helped define popular culture from the clothing we wore to the music we sang. Supposedly she paid as much as $10,000 for her elegant stockings. Swanson was evidently a woman of material means. In 1917, she went on strike to get mack Sennett to raise her salary. He got her to return to work by buying her a $100 green suit trimmed with squirrel fur. In 1919, during the filming of Male and Female, Swanson lay down next to a lion, which placed a paw on her back. When the actress, shaken from the experience, demanded the next day off to recover, DeMille placated her by allowing her to pick anything she wanted from a large cache of jewels. She selected a gold mesh bag and immediately said she felt much better.

Movie poster of a "lost" movie.
For trivia fans, Sunset Boulevard (1950) offers an added benefit for her fans. It features a scene from her unfinished epic, Queen Kelly (1928). Now considered one of the most audacious in-jokes in the history of American movies is the scene when Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) shows Joe Gillis (William Holden) a silent film being projected by her onetime director-husband and now butler, Max von Mayerling (Erich von Stroheim). But the film they are watching, as few viewers then or now would realize, is Queen Kelly, a 1929 production starring Swanson and actually directed by von Stroheim. The director was, of course, never Swanson's paramour any more than Swanson was a real life Norma Desmond. But this movie was the last to be released with von Stroheim's name on the credits as director.

Gloria Swanson on NBC Radio.
In 1928, after years of struggles within the studio system, Erich von Stroheim found the opportunity to create his crowning achievement: a storybook romance of intoxicating beauty, counterbalanced with a frightfully grim tale of moral corruption. Gloria Swanson played the role of an innocent convent girl who fell under the spell of a handsome prince (Walter Byron) on the eve of his marriage to a diabolical queen (Seena Owen). Queen Kelly might have been one of von Stroheim's greatest films had actress/producer Swanson not halted it in mid-production. She disapproved of his extravagant methods and strange story ideas. Though the European scenes were full of innuendo, and featured a philandering prince and a sex-crazed queen, the scenes set in Africa were grim and, Swanson felt, distasteful. In later interviews, Swanson had claimed that she had been misled by the script which referred to her character arriving in, and taking over, a dance hall; looking at the rushes, it was obvious the 'dance hall' was actually a brothel.

Poster Art for a "lost" movie.
Stroheim was fired from the film and the African storyline scrapped. Swanson and Kennedy still wanted to salvage the European material, as it had been so costly and time-consuming, and had potential market value. An alternate ending was, however, shot on November 24, 1931. In this ending, directed by Swanson and photographed by Gregg Toland, Prince Wolfram is shown visiting the palace. A nun leads him to the chapel, where Kelly's body lies in state. This has been called the 'Swanson Ending'. The film was not theatrically released in the United States, but it was shown in Europe and South America with the 'Swanson ending' tacked on. This was due to a clause in Stroheim's contract. By some accounts, Von Stroheim suggested the clip be used for Sunset Boulevard  for its heavy irony. This was the first time viewers in the US got to see any footage of the infamous collaboration. (In the 1960s, it was shown on television with the Swanson ending, along with a taped introduction and conclusion in which Swanson talked about the history of the project.)

Poster Art for a "lost" movie.
Thankfully, by 1985, Kino on Video acquired the rights to the movie and restored two versions: one that uses still photos and subtitles in an attempt to wrap up the storyline, and the other the European "suicide ending"  version. The DVD release contains bother versions of the movie, alternate endings and bonus features.

Sadly, amidst the restorations of Queen Kelly (1929) and Sadie Thompson (1928), a number of Gloria Swanson's movies are considered "lost" and not known to exist. Film archives the world over have been cataloged and consulted. The Library of Congress, UCLA, the George Eastman House and many others have verified the movies below are "lost" and are today sought after by anyone with deep pockets and an ambition to restore the film. The list below constitutes (as of December 2012) the films starring or co-starring Gloria Swanson which we may never see again. 

The Official List of "Lost" Films
  • Society for Sale (1918)
  • Her Decision (1918)
  • Station Content (1918)
  • You Can't Believe Everything (1918)
  • Everywoman's Husband (1918)
  • The Secret Code (1918)
  • Wife or Country (1918)
  • The Great Moment (1921)
  • Under the Lash (1921)
  • Don't Tell Everything (1921)
  • Her Gilded Cage (1922)
  • The Impossible Mrs. Bellew (1922)
  • My American Wife (1922)
  • Prodigal Daughters (1923)
  • Bluebeard's 8th Wife (1923)
  • Hollywood (1923) (she makes a cameo appearance in this film)
  • A Society Scandal (1924)
  • Her Love Story (1924)
  • Wages of Virtue (1924)
  • Madame Sans-Gêne (1925)
  • The Coast of Folly (1925)
  • The Untamed Lady (1926)
Gloria Swanson in Zaza (1923).
Among the highlights of historical nature are Madame Sans-Gêne (1925), produced in France as Swanson was on extended vacation there. She soon became involved with Henri de la Falaise, hired by Paramount to be her translator, and who later became her third husband.

The movie Hollywood (1923), tells the story of a young unknown (Hope Drown) who comes to Hollywood to become an actress, and brings her grandfather (Luke Cosgrave). At the end of the first day, she has not found work, but her grandfather has. The movie is known for having cameos from more than 30 celebrities from Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, Charles Chaplin, Cecil B. DeMille, Douglas Fairbanks, William S. Hart, Pola Negri, Mary Pickford, Zasu Pitts, Will Rogers and Gloria Swanson, among others.

Certain scenes in Prodigal Daughters (1923) were shot in Swanson's own palatial Hollywood mansion. A young unknown Mervyn LeRoy, later a famous director, appears unbilled as a newsboy. (He later directed Swanson in her early talkie Tonight or Never.)


Friday, January 24, 2020

"Lost" LONE RANGER RADIO BROADCASTS

Despite those modern misconceptions, The Lone Ranger radio program was never recorded on a regular basis until 1938. While the program premiered in 1933, the radio program was heard locally and known at that time -- like all radio programs originating out of Detroit -- a throw-away medium. Moments after the radio broadcast concluded, the scripts were tossed into a box in the corner of the studio and the actors vacated to make room for the next program, news commentary or singer. Thankfully, producer George W. Trendle saved two sets of radio scripts. Author Fran Striker saved a copy of each radio script himself. While we have no extant recordings to hear a more primitive rendition of The Lone Ranger and Tonto, more blood-thirsty than the renditions we would come to know by 1938, the radio scripts exist.

I am pleased to report that almost eery radio script pre-1938 has been reviewed, digitized, catalogued and documented for a future publication now in the hands of proof readers for a late 2020 or early 2021 publication. An accumulation of three decades of research, THE LONE RANGER: THE EARLY YEARS, 1933-1937 will document everything about the masked vigilante and fill in a gap that was sorely needed. While many books have been published, documenting The Lone Ranger program, none have fully documented those early (and almost unknown) years. More importantly, the book will also debunk myths and misconceptions, clarify conflicting information found on the Internet, and correct all the errors from prior publications. Scans of archival documents will back up the facts.

While we have to wait a few months for publication, here is a sample from the episode guide cut and pasted from the manuscript. Yes, here are a few "lost" adventures. (Note that the radio broadcasts  never had script titles back in 1934.) Enjoy!

Episode #200, Broadcast May 11, 1934
Plot: In the Mogollon Mesa region of Arizona was the home of Ira Hawks and his wife, Carrie, who while arguing about whether or not to move to a place that was more civilized, an outlaw named Scar Winslow had snuck into the bedroom of their six-year-old daughter, Babe, with intent to kidnap. Ira sought help from men in town to ride in search of the kidnapper. Later, a half-breed showed up at the Hawks homestead to tell Ira that he knew the location of Scar’s hideout, and in exchange for $5,000, he would lead Ira and his friend, Gord Manning, to the hideout in one of the many tunnels of the Alamo Cave. A disguised Lone Ranger, observing the events, rode out to his camp to meet Tonto and discuss a plan. Ira, meanwhile, placed the ransom money into a block of wood. After the half-breed received the package of cash, the masked man posed as an outlaw and secretly trailed the half-breed to the cave entrance. From a distance the Lone Ranger shot at a rock, creating a diversion long enough to warrant Tonto shooting his silver-tipped arrow into the block of wood. The half-breed, believing the masked man was an outlaw, escorted the stranger inside to meet Scar Winslow in the hopes a man shrewd enough to follow him should become a member of the gang. Ira was dumb enough to pay the ransom, Scar laughs, before plotting how to get rid of Babe. When Scar noticed the arrow stuck in the package of money, he questioned momentarily until The Lone Ranger explained that the string attached, not the arrow itself, would lead the posse members to Scar’s whereabouts through the maze of tunnels. Sure enough, Manning led men into the hideout, the outlaws were captured, and Babe was rescued. With the reward for the outlaw capture, Manning bought Ira’s business. Ira and Carrie now had enough money to move back to the city. The Lone Ranger rode to the Hawks homestead to return Babe’s doll that was left behind in the cave. Ira offered the reward money to The Lone Ranger for saving his daughter, but the masked man suggested putting the money away until Babe was all grown up.

Episode #201, Broadcast May 14, 1934
Plot: For weeks Potters Corners had been under a reign of merciless terror of banditry and murder by a group of outlaws. One night in his office, aged Sheriff Cal Bixby confessed to his deputies that he has all but given up; there were no clues to the outlaws’ identities. A stranger walked in to the office, disguised, and volunteered to be a deputy. The lawmen suspected he was one of the outlaws and attempted to capture him. An arrow flew through the window and smashed the oil lamp, giving the stranger an escape route. It was Tonto who shot a silver-tipped arrow and it was The Lone Ranger who fled the scene. Under the care of the vigilantes was Mrs. Sellers, whose husband was killed by the hooded outlaws, and it was she who recognized the voice of one of the outlaws named “Half Breed” Vancia. Gambler Cephus Snodgrass, meanwhile, ordered Vancia to find and kill Mrs. Sellers. After Cephus was elected as the new sheriff, and the heat died down, he would divide the stolen loot among the gang members. One by one, The Lone Ranger caught six of the outlaws and held them captive in his camp. Then he left the men’s horses straying and scattered some of their personal articles and equipment to be found by the Sheriff. After an unsuccessful search for the missing men the Sheriff returned to his office where he was met by Tonto. Tonto identified himself with a silver-tipped arrow and urged the Sheriff to follow him. Cephus, however, accused Tonto of belonging to the outlaw gang. The Lone Ranger rode Silver into the sheriff’s office, momentarily putting shock and surprise to all within while he captured Cephus and rode away. In his camp, the masked man posed as an outlaw telling Cephus he had killed those six men in his gang. The masked man then threatened the gambler with torture (a hot branding iron) if he did not confess to the crimes and reveal the location of the stolen loot. Out of fear, the crooked gambler confessed to the crimes and where the loot could be found. The sheriff and his posse, who were hidden within earshot of the camp, overheard the confession and jumped in to arrest Cephus and the outlaws. Sheriff Cal Bixby offered The Lone Ranger a job as his deputy but the masked man and his Indian companion rode away into the sunset.

Episode #202, Broadcast May 16, 1934
Plot: Madge Davis rode into the Lone Ranger’s camp one night, explaining how the outlaws who murdered her father were chasing her and required assistance to get to Sheriff Perkins in the town of Sand Mine. Tonto rode off to the Davis house to investigate while Madge rode with The Lone Ranger to town, together on top of the great horse Silver. The outlaws, however, set logs on the trail to trap them but the heroes escaped ambush when Silver leapt over the logs. At the sheriff’s house, Madge was surprised to recognize him as the killer of her father. Because Madge went east to school when she was very young, she did not remember Perkins as her father’s former mining partner. Her father gave all of his money to the sheriff for safe keeping, legally entitled to the money if Madge was dead. Just as the crooked lawman was going to murder Madge, The Lone Ranger burst in and tied him up. “I’m sorry that I can’t shoot you, in the same way that you planned to kill this girl,” the masked man told the sheriff. When Perkins claimed there was no proof that he killed his old partner, or tried to kill Madge, the masked man revealed a witness – the Davis’ dog. After they left the sheriff, Madge told The Lone Ranger that her father did not have a dog. The masked man agreed and explained the dog her father did not have will trap the sheriff. While Madge remained in town to inform the deputy sheriff, Dick, that his employer was responsible for the murder of her father, Tonto was back at the Davis ranch setting up a booby trap. Sheriff Perkins was set free of his bonds when his henchman showed up. Fuming, the men race out to kill the dog, unaware Tonto rigged a clothes bundle shaped like a dog on top of a spring. Believing the bundle was the dog, the sheriff pulls his gun and shoots. The dynamite inside the bundle exploded, killing the crooked lawman. With justice served, Madge becomes wealthy and Dick is made the Sheriff. As Dick proposed marriage to Madge, The Lone Ranger informed Tonto that it was their time to ride off and leave the lovebirds.

Notes: In The Lone Ranger camp at night, the great horse Silver stomped the ground to warn of an approaching horse.

Episode #203, Broadcast May 18, 1934
Plot: At the starting point of the perilous route, the entire town assembled to see the start of the stagecoach run that was to make history – and tempt every dishonest stagecoach robber within fifty miles. Ten tried and true men, grim and determined in expression with rifles polished and ammunition belts filled, were inside and on top of the sturdiest stage that could be had. The Lone Ranger and Tonto knew that such a stage would not meet with bullets, but with strategy. Strategizing Jimcrack Pass as the best place for the stage to drop over the ravine and wreck, the masked man and Indian raced out in advance to Honest Dave Bush’s place which overlooked the ravine. After masquerading as Dave, The Lone Ranger found himself caught off guard by Wolf Larson, Oriskany’s chief lieutenant. Joe Griskany and his gang of outlaws were going to make a play for a quarter of a million dollars in gold bullion being transported by stage. Threatening to shoot to kill, Wolf ordered the fake Dave to use the skill of handling blasts, which he was known to possess, to help overtake the stage. The Lone Ranger placed the charges, drilling into rock, the entire time Oriskany maintained observation. Moments after the stage passeed through, the charges were set off and the blast sent rock across the road – exactly where Oriskany and Wolf hid and the same place The Lone Ranger warned them not to hide, killing the crooks. Honest Dave Bush was puzzled when he received the $10,000 reward money, unaware of why he was given credit for a task he never did, but accepted the money nonetheless as it was sorely needed for his sick child.

Episode #204, Broadcast May 21, 1934
Plot: Dolores Sequilla and her sister Felicia rode across the border to meet Sheriff Jeff Mulvay of Eagle Pass, claiming their father was captured, their ranch taken over, cattle killed and wine consumed by a notorious gang of bandits consisting of sixty plus outlaws. Under the cover of darkness, The Lone Ranger and Tonto rode across the Rio Grande, guided by the beautiful women, to find their aged father hiding in a tunnel beneath the house. After rescuing the old man, The Lone Ranger left Tonto behind with instructions while the masked man rode for the headquarters of the nearest Mexican army post, trusting that his story would be believed, in the hopes for vengeance against the Sequillas. The Mexican army would not assist but on the trail back, the masked man met Pancho Villa, wanted by the law. After discovering his satisfaction of justice was not too different from The Lone Ranger’s, Pancho Villa calls on his vigilante gang to join the fight. What the law would not abide, he and his men would. Despite the great odds, the outlaws were attacked by the small band of Villa’s men, and they had no chance for victory from the start. The men of Pancho Villa were everywhere; their shooting was deadly accurate. Each man shot with both hands; each man had guns blazing into the midst of those that robbed old Senor Sequilla. The end was certain for the bandits. Pancho Villa, who was accused of thieving was now realized a hero.

Notes: The announcer closed the broadcast with the following narration: “It is interesting to note, that the young outlaw of the hills of Mexico was destined to great things before he died. As The Lone Ranger prophesied, there came the day when Villa led great numbers of men under the flag of Mexico. Perhaps in later years his name will long be mentioned as the Robin Hood of Mexico, but while Robin Hood roamed Sherwood Forest in England, and while Mexico’s downtrodden people had Pancho Villa, none will never know the name of the hero of our own great gold coast, because his name would also be mysterious as the place from which he came, as his face, and the place to where he went. He is known only as The Lone Ranger.”

Episode #205, Broadcast May 23, 1934
Plot: Solomon Greentree, leading a wagon train of heavy prairie schooners, was a determined man. On many occasions riders came from the prairie wagons behind him, to ask how much longer was the army post that would provide food, water and rest. The men and women felt they were misguided, having misplaced their confidence, in choosing Solomon as their leader. The Lone Ranger and Tonto, observing from above yonder, realized that a tribe of Sioux Indians could mean disaster for the wagon train, riding down to meet Solomon and offer guidance towards the correct trail. When evidence suggested an attack, The Lone Ranger asked for two of courage and found Jack and Jinny willing to mark their face with charcoal and red clay to create the appearance of smallpox. For several moments, while the Sioux warriors drew their circle smaller and closer to the hardy men of the wagon train, The Lone Ranger approached the leader of the savages with the “smallpox victims.” The Indians fled in fright, giving the wagon train open passage to the army fort that Solomon correctly predicted was within reach by nightfall.

Notes: The plot and much of the dialogue was recycled from a Covered Wagon Days radio script, including the announcer’s closing comment that “Tonight’s adventure of The Lone Ranger is a true one. It has been brought to us by one of the descendants of the leader of the expedition we followed tonight.” 

Unaware that it was the advertising agency who wrote the commercial copy, Fran Striker suggested on the last page of this Lone Ranger script that the closing commercial be tied in with the hardships of baking bread, to help assist with Silvercup’s commercials.