Who was that masked man? Not who you think. “He was a big kid,” daughter Dawn Moore exclusively tells Closer of Clayton Moore, who became super famous as the stoic Lone Ranger on the classic TV Western. “My dad had an amazing sense of humor. He really was more like my buddy — like a really tall playmate.”
Clayton could be serious when the occasion called for it, though. When dealing with bullies, “he said, ‘Never throw the first punch, but be sure to throw the last,’” recalls Dawn. “Which basically means don’t start a fight but don’t let somebody take advantage of you.”
The actor faced his share of scuffles. Due to a contract dispute, he was replaced as the Lone Ranger by John Hart but returned for the show’s final two seasons. “He said, ‘I would be honored to play this role for the rest of my life,’” Dawn shared at A Word on Westerns’ celebration of The Lone Ranger’s 70th anniversary.
Dawn was adopted by Clayton and second wife Sally in 1958, one year after The Lone Ranger went off the air. “I was an only child and a daughter, but he treated me not at all gender-specific,” she says. “We went fishing, and he taught me how to put worms on a hook, which flies to use, and how to cast the line.”
Clayton kept making appearances as the Lone Ranger until 1979, when the producer who owned the character sued him and tried to make him stop. Clayton replaced his mask with wraparound sunglasses, and the suit was dropped.
“This role gave my father a purpose,” says Dawn. “He loved his fans and he loved kids. That’s why it resonated with him.” In the final years before he died at 85 in 1999, “my dad was very happy,” Dawn says. “He had an incredible career, and he knew that. He always felt such loyalty from his fans, all the way until the day he died.”
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