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The Legend of the Lone Ranger is a 1981 film of the story of The Lone Ranger, a Western character created by George W. Trendle and Fran Striker. The title has been used twice previously. In 1978 Jack Wrather and Bonita Granville, gained the legal rights to the Lone Ranger character and were planning a feature film with a younger actor, issued an injunction to stop Clayton Moore representing the character at county fairs much to fans displeasure.




The film was released to massive publicity in 1981 and did poorly. Box office receipts were far short of the amount needed to recoup the costs of the film, and critical reviews were almost unanimously negative. Despite the presence of renowned actors in supporting roles, including Christopher Lloyd as villain Butch Cavendish and Jason Robards as President Ulysses S. Grant, the film vanished from theaters rapidly. The actor playing the Ranger (Klinton Spilsbury) has never appeared in another film, while the actor portraying Tonto, Michael Horse, has done somewhat better, appearing in many minor films and as a regular on the Canadian television series North of 60 as well as the American series Twin Peaks.


  • The events surrounding the release of this movie would be satirized in the episode "Who Was That Mashed Man" of the TV sitcom Night Court, where a case comes through the courtroom involving: an elderly man who played the "Red Ranger", a famous cowboy of yesteryear that was popular with children; and the producers of a movie that is a modernized remake of the character...turning him into a swearing, womanizing modern action hero. Both parties are clashing over the elderly man appearing in public as his old persona.

  • Humorist Russell Baker satirized the producers' legal action against Clayton Moore in his newspaper column. The piece (titled "Bye Bye Silver Bullets") had the Lone Ranger in a swank attorney's office being forced to hand over Silver, his mask and his silver bullets.

  • Klinton Spilsbury's dialogue was overdubbed for the entire movie by actor James Keach.

  • The film had a line of action figures created by the toy company Gabriel in 1982 which included Buffalo Bill Cody, Butch Cavendish, George Custer, The Lone Ranger and Tonto. Also released by Gabriel were the horses Silver (The Lone Ranger's Horse), Scout (Tonto's Horse) and Smoke (Butch's Horse).

Awards and nominations

Won: Worst Actor (Klinton Spilsbury)
Won: Worst New Star (Klinton Spilsbury)
Won: Worst Musical Score
Nominated: Worst Picture
Nominated: Worst "Original" Song (The Man in the Mask)


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