Chalware figurine of Tonto, from The Lone Ranger

Chalware figurine of Tonto, from The Lone Ranger

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Description (Brief)
Painted chalkware figurine of Tonto, a character from the popular radio, television, and comic book Western series The Lone Ranger. The figurine features Tonto, wearing a feather headdress, riding a tan horse.
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
chalkware figurine
chal kware figurine
chalk ware figurine
date made
around 1940s
overall: 10 1/2 in x 9 3/4 in x 3 in; 26.67 cm x 24.765 cm x 7.62 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Janet Vart
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Cultural and Community Life: Entertainment
Popular Entertainment
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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