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'Lone Ranger' has traditionally stood for all that's decent, noble in Old West

Published: Tuesday, July 2 2013 2:11 p.m. MDT

L to R: Armie Hammer as the Lone Ranger and Johnny Depp as Tonto in "The Lone Ranger," which opens July 3. Disney Enterprises, Inc. and Jerry Bruckheimer Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Disney Enterprises Inc.

The pivotal moment came during an unceremonious wardrobe fitting.

“A bunch of us stood in a room with hundreds of masks. I heard, ‘Armie, try this one on. No, try this one on! No, not that one. Your face looks weird in that one. Try this other one,’” Armie Hammer told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Suddenly, the 26-year-old actor became that masked man.

“There was one mask that hit on the bridge of my nose,” Hammer continued. “I said, ‘Guys, I think we got it.’ I wish it was more of an iconic moment.”

Hammer plays lawman John Reid in "The Lone Ranger," set to be released July 3. In the process, Hammer becomes the latest in a line of masked men to stand for all that was decent and noble in the Old West.

“The most important thing for my character is his inflated sense of justice," Hammer said in the same Chicago Sun-Times article. "My mission is to bring law and order. That’s what the original was about, and that’s what our film is about at the core."

The Lone Ranger was created for a radio show on a station in Detroit. The first of nearly 3,000 broadcasts took place on Jan. 30, 1933, making famous the words, "A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty 'Hi-yo, Silver' — the Lone Ranger!"

The character also sparked a TV show, comic books, novels, records, movies and a collection of memorabilia.

Clayton Moore became the first prominent face of the Lone Ranger for 169 episodes of the TV show from 1949-57 and continued making personal appearances as the character in the decades after the show ended.

Before he died in 1999, Moore talked about the importance of the heroes of the Old West, real or otherwise, in an interview with CNN.

“It’s the good guy in the white hat, the fair play and the honesty, the settlement of the Old West," Moore said. "Don’t forget the cowboy, the trials and tribulations that they went through. What we have today we got from our ancestors and pioneers.”

Fran Striker is credited with creating the radio show. He came up with "The Lone Ranger Creed," the lawman's code of living. Additionally, the Lone Ranger always used proper, slang-free speech; he shot to disarm, not to kill; and he didn't smoke or drink.

A later film version did not share the same success as its TV and radio counterparts. In 1981, William Fraker directed "The Legend of the Lone Ranger," starring Klinton Spilsbury in the title role and Michael Horse as Tonto. The film flopped, losing more than $11 million.

For "The Lone Ranger" director Gore Verbinski, the 6-foot-5 Hammer was perfect for the role because he seemed to have those old western hero intangibles.

“When I first met him, I just knew he was the guy,” Verbinski told ABC News. “He’s like this classical leading man. … Armie’s tall, handsome and genuine, and who doesn’t want to throw that into the meat grinder?”

This newest version of the Lone Ranger also comes with a "code of ethics," detailed in press materials sent out by Disney. The code states:

1. The Lone Ranger fights for what's right in mind, body and spirit.

2. All men are born equal, treat them as such.

3. If in doubt, follow the horse.

4. Give what you have, you will get more in return.

5. No matter what, the truth will outlive a lie.

6. Time settles all debts.

7. Forget where you came from, remember where you're going.

8. Respect the land, for you'll be part of it one day.

9. Friendship is a partnership — hold up your end.

10. The mask is not for you, it's for everyone else.

11. No man rides alone.

Hammer hopes the film will honor all those who have ever been associated with the Lone Ranger.

"We just wanted to make something that would make everybody happy to remember the old Lone Ranger," he said in a red carpet interview with the Huffington Post, "and the new generation of kids who have never seen it before, introduce it to them in a fun way."

Email: ttoone@desnews.com Twitter: tbtoone

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