In the early 1950s, the show was so popular with the television audience that ABC, for a short period of time, ran it on late Friday nights for those who missed the earlier Thursday 7:30 p.m. broadcast.
"Kemo Sabe" means "trusted friend". In Episode One it is explained that it means "trusted scout". Other sources have said that it is a corruption of the Spanish phrase "Quien sabe", which means "Who knows?"
Clayton Moore sat out fifty-two episodes. The studio claimed it was a pay dispute, but Moore insisted up until his death that it was over creative differences. John Hart was hired to replace him, but the change did not sit well with audiences. When George W. Trendle sold the rights for the series to Jack Wrather in 1954, Wrather immediately rehired Moore.
Premiered on ABC on September 15, 1949 (Thursdays 7:30-8:00). Last telecast: September 12, 1957. This was the only ABC program to rank in the top fifteen when the A.C. Neilsen Co. began compiling national ratings for network programs. In 1950, it ranked number seven, with a 41.2 percent share. The show was on ABC throughout its run. Reruns began on CBS on Saturday mornings in 1953, and continued to September 1960, and then on NBC for another four years. ABC showed reruns of it in late afternoons from 1958 to 1961. None of the network reruns featured John Hart as "The Lone Ranger", the other "Lone Ranger" from 1952-53.
Uniquely, "The Lone Ranger", as televised on ABC, offered four seasons of a new episode each week for at least a year without a rerun. From 1949-51, the first seventy-eight episodes were aired, and then rerun in the same order. For the subsequent seasons beginning on September 1952, September 1954, and September 1956, the same format was followed with fifty-two consecutive new episodes aired, and then rerun in the following twelve-month period. The young viewers would have to wait "until the same time next year", often coinciding with their school year or summer vacation, to see a rerun of a favorite or "missed" episode.
The radio program, the television series used incidental music from Republic Pictures serials (although with new orchestral arrangements) to fit the many action sequences. Program Creator George W. Trendle had obtained rights to the Republic music package as part of the deal for Republic to produce a second The Lone Ranger serial. Originally on radio, the show had used German recordings of classical pieces, the only classical music retained later on the radio show and on television were the series' theme of Gioachino Rossini's "William Tell Overture". as well as "The Preludes" by Franz Liszt, used on radio as the bridge in and out of the middle commercial. During 1956-57, which was the last season of new episodes, the usual musical score supporting the action scenes was replaced by an incidental music package widely used in early filmed television series, as well as low-budget "B" pictures and theatrical serials. This was at least a contributing factor to the series' sudden decline in popularity.
After the series ended, Clayton Moore began making public appearances as The Lone Ranger. Jack Wrather filed suit against Moore, claiming ownership of the character. In 1979, Wrather won the suit, so Moore wore wraparound Foster-Grant sunglasses as a substitute for the mask. Moore later won a countersuit allowing him to resume wearing his costume.
The series' budget was twelve thousand dollars per episode from 1949-1954, then it was increased to eighteen thousand dollars per episode from 1954 until production of new episodes ended in 1957, though the series remained, on network television (CBS, NBC) weekly until 1963.
At one time, speculation surfaced that The Lone Ranger was inspired by a U.S. Marshal named Bass Reeves, who worked in the Oklahoma Territory. Because the territory was largely Indian reservations, and therefore sovereign territory, Marshals had to be accompanied by a Native American, hence some suggested this was the inspiration for the character of Tonto. Despite a sterling reputation for maintaining law and order, even when it meant arresting his own son, Reeves was eventually driven from office when Jim Crow laws were passed. Unlike the television show, the real Bass Reeves was black. This myth, along with other speculative suggestions for the character's origin, was eventually debunked by re-examining the records of the Detroit radio station where The Lone Ranger radio show originated.
In 1955, at the height of the show's popularity, just before the release of The Lone Ranger (1956), ABC and CBS aired The Lone Ranger Rides Again (1955). This was a one-hour condensed version of the series' first three episodes depicting The Lone Ranger's origin.
When star Clayton Moore began to supplement his income by making personal appearances signing autographs at rodeos and circuses, the Lone Ranger copyright owners got a court order forbidding him to wear his signature black mask, so Moore ended up wearing sunglasses.
Rossini's "William Tell Overture" has been so largely remembered with being the theme for the series. That several famed people have quoted "An Intellectual (or high culture) person, is one who can listen to the William Tell Overture -without thinking of the Lone Ranger".