Johnny Depp Revitalizes Role of Tanto In Remake Of Lone Ranger | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Johnny Depp Revitalizes Role of Tanto In Remake Of Lone Ranger

Play associated audio

People of a certain age are not hearing the William Tell Overture, they’re hearing the Lone Ranger.

The Lone Ranger and Tonto were actually the brainchild of George Trendle, a Detroit radio station owner, who in the early 1930s introduced them on his station.

Avi Santos, professor at Old Dominion University and the author of the soon to be published book about the Lone Ranger called "Selling the Silver Bullet," says that Trendle had the foresight to copyright all aspects of the masked man.

"George Trendle has built into his contracts with various clients these very rigid rules about what can and cannot be done," says Santos. "Any actor portraying the character could never appear in public without their mask on or they would be in violation of their contract: to explicit depictions of how the Lone Ranger must look, everything from his height, his weight, the color of his eyes, the type of nose he had."

Trendle was shrewd and no friend to actors.

"The star wears a mask, so he’s mysterious, but you have no idea who the actual person portraying the Lone Ranger is, so therefore he does not have to pay this person anything beyond the going rate," says Santos.

He was also a pioneer when it came to controlling his brand.

“Trendle trademarks, not just the name the Lone Ranger but also the names Tonto, Silver, Silver Bullets, and the catchphrase Hi –Ho Silver Away,” he says.

And he was one of the first to make a fortune on merchandizing his product.

"Anything you could imagine was available," he says. "In the 1930’s you could get everything from ice cream to Lone Ranger matchbooks, but also Lone Ranger-branded clothing like pajamas or shirts that would simply have a crest on it. You know, of course, things like toys guns and masks and things like that were all over the place."

In the film, Santos says the story is being told from Tantos’ perspective. He says Johnny Depp came on board to play Tanto, not the Lone Ranger.

"When Trendle owned the property, he worked so hard to keep the identities of the performers of the Lone Ranger and Tanto a secret, now of course, it’s the opposite. The key to revitalizing this property is heavily promoting the fact that Depp is associated with it."

NPR

Kids' Films And Stories Share A Dark Theme: Dead Mothers

Why do so many animated movies star motherless kids? Sarah Boxer, a graphic novelist, cartoon-lover and mother, talks to NPR's Kelly McEvers about the phenomenon and the message it sends to children.
NPR

Saskawhat? A Novel Berry From Canada Takes Root On Michigan Farms

Some rookie farmers in northern Michigan are growing saskatoon, an imported shrub from Canada that looks like blueberry. They're also experimenting with it in the kitchen — in jams and pies.
NPR

What Will Become Of Obama's Request For Immigration Relief Funds?

NPR's Arun Rath talks to political correspondent Mara Liasson about the chances of a political agreement over how to handle the migration of thousands of Central American children.
NPR

Looking For Free Sperm, Women May Turn To Online Forums

Bypassing commercial sperm banks, thousands are logging on to websites where women can connect with men at no cost. Anecdotes abound, but the scope of the unregulated activity is unclear.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.