The Lone Ranger's Mask

The Lone Ranger's Mask

<< >>
Usage conditions apply
Clayton Moore wore this black mask as the star of the television series The Lone Ranger. The cloth and plastic mask was molded to Moore's face and was part of one of the most iconic costumes in the history of American television.
Although perhaps best remembered as a television series, The Lone Ranger first aired as a radio program on Detroit station WXYZ in 1933. The history of the character’s creation is murky, but contributions were made by station owner George W. Trendle, employee James Jewell, and writer Fran Striker. The Lone Ranger was once a Texas Ranger known as John Reid, but dedicated his life to vigilante justice after an ambush by the outlaw Butch Cavendish left him the only survivor of his posse. American Indian Tonto, said to be either Comanche or Potawatomi, discovered the wounded Reid and after nursing him back to health decided to join him in his mission. The Lone Ranger was an instant success, and the character became known for his black domino mask, code of honor, signature silver bullets, and horse Silver and catch phrase “Hi Yo (or Hi Ho) Silver!” According to his moral code, the Lone Ranger attempts to avoid violence, shooting only to disarm, not kill, and using silver bullets a reminder of the value of human life.
In 1934 the Mutual radio network began airing the program nationally, and the series ran on radio for 12 years, the title character portrayed by actors George Seaton, Earle Graser, and Brace Beemer. Proving the character’s popularity across media, The Lone Ranger was adapted as a series of films by Republic Pictures in 1938, books, comic books, a King Features Syndicate comic strip from 1938 to 1971, and an ABC television series from 1949 to 1957. The show was a merchandising juggernaut, with licensed products including radio premiums, toys, games, home furnishings, and costumes. Though the character’s popularity had faded by the late 1950s, producers have periodically attempted revivals such as the 1981 film The Legend of the Lone Ranger and the 2013 Walt Disney film, directed by Gore Verbinski, starring Armie Hammer as the Lone Ranger and Johnny Depp as Tonto.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Date made
performing artist; user
Moore, Clayton
Physical Description
felt (part material)
rubber (part material)
resin (part material)
felt; thermoplastic; rubber; steel (overall material)
overall: 6.5 cm x 13.5 cm x 12 cm; 2 9/16 in x 5 5/16 in x 4 3/4 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Dawn A. Moore
Lone Ranger
Radio and television broadcasting
Television broadcasts
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Entertainment
National Treasures exhibit
Popular Entertainment
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.


Highly recommended: Clayton Moore's autobiography. "I WAS That Masked Man!" A wonderful book.
Agreed about the book, as odd as it is in its resolute rosiness! The tale about Moore unkowingly meeting the Manson family at his friend's Ranch was chilling, and I suspect influenced the similar fantasy-scene of Brad Pitt at the ranch in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Original mask is purple, see it with provenance, on Antiques Roadshow Season 23 Episode 17, which is of an AR show originally recorded 2004.
I was working in a western wear store in Mansfield Texas in the 1980’s. A man came in looking at white hats and silver belt buckles. I asked him if he needed any help and he said no he was just looking. I said let me know if I can help you. He finally let me help him with some buckles. I knew his voice. I kept thinking where have I heard that voice... I just could not remember. When he made his purchase he handed me his credit card. I looked down and said oh my God. He said what?? I said you are the Lone Ranger!! We talked. The next day he called the store. He said hello do you know who this is? I said yes. He said it’s Kimosabi and I want to buy all your silver buckles. Oh my God for a young lady born in 1950..... he was my hero!
"I met Clayton Moore when he was visiting my friend City of Vineland (NJ) Mayor Patrick R. Fiorilli (in the Mayor's office) sometime between 1976 and 1984 (during the Mayor's tenure.) He was just like you imagined he' be in-person, from all his TV shows, a pure red-blooded American gentleman. Amongst many other subjects discussed during that visit, Mayor Fiorilli asked in Clayton Moore wore his mask in public, and Mr. Moore replied that he is no longert allowed (legally) to wear his mask in public. I was saddened by this news, but entirely gladdened at having had the opportunity to meet him and shake his hand."

Add a comment about this object