Born in 1914 in Illinois, Clayton Moore arrived in Hollywood in 1938. He worked his way through the ranks as a stunt actor before graduating to small acting roles and finally to leading roles in Saturday afternoon programs, such as Ghost of Zorro. In 1949, he won the starring role in a television version of the radio program The Lone Ranger. Though he appeared in approximately 70 films, he never forgot the role of his life.
Actor Clayton Moore was born Jack Carlton Moore on September 14, 1914, in Chicago, Illinois. Moore changed his name to "Clayton" when he arrived in Hollywood in 1938. As a one-time model and circus performer (he worked as a trapeze artist), Moore worked his way through the ranks as a stunt actor before graduating to small acting roles and finally to leading roles in various Saturday afternoon programs in the late 1930s and '40s.
'The Lone Ranger'
In 1949, Moore won the starring role in one of the first shows to be filmed exclusively for television, a TV version of the radio program The Lone Ranger that aired on the fledgling ABC network. Aided by his trusty horse, Silver, and by Tonto—played by Jay Silverheels as the faithful American-Indian sidekick who famously referred to the black-masked Lone Ranger as "kemo sabe"— Moore provided a maverick force of law and order for the tremendously popular show's colorful version of the Old West. Though he was briefly replaced with another actor from 1952 to 1954, during a contract dispute, Moore returned to complete the show's run until 1957, when it was cancelled.
Though he appeared in approximately 70 feature films, Moore never forgot the role of his life; to the contrary, he continued to wear a black mask in all public appearances until 1979, when the producers of a new film version of The Lone Ranger obtained a court order forcing him to refrain from donning the trademark mask. He replaced it with a pair of wraparound sunglasses. The movie, released in 1981, turned out to be a flop, and the courts gave Moore the right to wear his mask again in 1984. In a 1985 interview with the Los Angeles Times, the actor told a reporter: "Once I got the Lone Ranger role, I didn't want any other. I like playing the good guy."
Personal Life, Later Years and Death
Moore was married four times. His first wife was Mary Francis, whom he married in 1940 and divorced less than two years later. His second wife was actress Sally Allen, whom he married in 1943. They had one daughter, Dawn Moore Gerrity. Allen died in 1986. He then married Connie in August of 1986, but they divorced in 1989. His fourth wife was Clarita Petrone, whom he married in 1992.
Moore, who was largely retired by the 1990s, lived in Calabasas, California, near Los Angeles. On December 28, 1999, Moore died of a heart attack, at age 85; he was survived by his daughter and his wife, Clarita.
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