Did Tex Hill Star in a 1961 Lone Ranger Pilot?

Cee Jay e-mailed me a few days ago asking about a pilot titled “The Return of the Lone Ranger,” supposedly produced in 1961 by CBS with Tex Hill starring. Wikipedia mentions the pilot in its article about The Lone Ranger, it has its own Internet Movie Database entry and is mentioned in a variety of Internet sources, including the Lone Ranger Fan Club and the website of Dynamic Forces, a company which published comic books based on the iconic character. But all of these sources use a variation of the following description:

An attempt by CBS to revive the series in 1961, Return of The Lone Ranger, did not get past the pilot stage. The Lone Ranger was played by Tex Hill in the pilot.

Some sources even say the pilot aired. I can find absolutely no other information about this pilot. And it seems odd to me that CBS would even be interested in airing a new television series based on the Lone Ranger. The beloved ABC series starring Clayton Moore (and John Hart) had aired its final first-run episode on June 6th, 1957 but repeats continued to draw viewers in daytime syndication on both ABC and NBC until September 1961. I find it hard to believe that the network would think a new version would succeed.

For the record, here’s a broadcast history of The Lone Ranger, which aired on all three networks before entering national syndication:


Thursdays (Prime Time First Run)
September 15th, 1949 – June 6th, 1957; Repeats Through September 12th, 1957

Fridays (Prime Time Repeats)
June 16th, 1950 – September 8th, 1950

Sundays (Daytime)
September 22nd, 1957 – September 18th, 1960

Wednesdays (Daytime)
September 28th, 1960 – September 20th, 1961


Saturdays (Daytime)
June 13th, 1953 – September 24th, 1960


Saturdays (Daytime)
October 1st, 1960 – September 23rd, 1961

Does anyone have any information on this supposed 1961 pilot starring Tex Hill?

24 Replies to “Did Tex Hill Star in a 1961 Lone Ranger Pilot?”

  1. I vaguely remember the 1961 CBS ‘Lone Ranger’ pilot being talked about, but I’m not sure that it ever aired. I’ll dig back in my records for any further information.

    One ‘Lone Ranger’ pilot that did air was ‘The Lone Ranger’ two-hour backdoor tv-movie for The WB, one of the major development projects shepherded by Miss Suzanne Daniels. The pilot starred Mr. Chad Michael Murray as The Lone Ranger and Mr. Nathaniel Arcand as Tonto.

    When the pilot aired on Tuesday February 26, 2003 and garnered a 3.4HH/5%, handily beating ‘Star Trek: Enterprise’ (2.8HH/4%) and ‘The Twilight Zone’ (1.5HH/2%) on UPN, I thought it would be a cinch for fall 2003 Sundays at 9 pm timeslot.

    However, Mr. Jordan Levin thought otherwise, and elected to sked the ‘Tarzan’ series on Sundays at 9 pm instead. And Mr. Chad Michael Murray was added to the cast of the 1983 fall pick-up ‘One Tree Hill’, ending any chance of ‘The Lone Ranger’ being picked up for a later season. Too bad, because the WB creative team had done an ace job of telling the story of how The Lone Ranger came about and his life before donning the mask. It would have made a good series, and might have helped broaden The WB’s viewership a bit.

  2. The original “LONE RANGER” series had several gaps in production: 78 consecutive first-run episodes starring Clayton Moore were telecast from September 1949 through March 1951, then repeated through September 1952. John Hart then replaced Clayton Moore in 52 episodes from September 1952 through September 1953, then a mix of Moore and Hart episodes were repeated for another season. Moore then returned in 52 new episodes from September 1954 through September 1955, then another season of repeats followed. After Jack Wrather bought the rights to “The Lone Ranger” from George W. Trendle and his associates in 1955, he produced a final 39 episode season starring Moore [in color, intiially seen in black and white on ABC] for the 1956-’57 season.
    General Mills, who originally sponsored the original radio show from 1941 through 1954, was the sole sponsor of the series in prime-time, and a primary sponsor of the daytime repeats on CBS and ABC, through 1961.

    If CBS wanted to produce a new “LONE RANGER” series in 1961, they would have had a production agreement with Jack Wrather to do so (their 1966-’67 Saturday morning animated cartoon version was controlled by “Wrather Corporation”). The project probably never got farther than an unaired pilot- IF it was filmed. I haven’t heard of it…and neither of Tex Hill.

  3. why would you like to know about tex hill?? if he was in the show then he was there. that was yrs ago long before some of us came to this world.

  4. I came across some information on the possible ‘The Lone Ranger’ pilot as part of my summer notes on the 1963 fall season. That fall, TeleSynd out of New York, offered up to all stations carrying ‘The Lone Ranger’, a brand new one-hour dramatic special that explained the origins of the masked lawman (i.e. explaining why he donned the mask, etc.). I’m trying to track down production notes for this special to confirm whether Mr. Tex Hill played the masked hero in it or not. There is no indication that this one-hour special was a re-purposing of the 1961 CBS pilot, but syndication distributions of unbought pilots was not unheard of in those days, especially for projects that were still thought to be viable.

    1. in 1954 Jack wrather bought the rights to the lone ranger to celebrate the purchase he made a color lone ranger in 1955 with Clayton Moore and Jay silverheels It was a one hour special that was filmed for the 22nd anniversary of the lone ranger it was a retelling of how the lone ranger became the lone ranger Tonto Jay finds the wounded ranger Clayton by moonlight and carries him into a cave while in the cave Clayton as lone ranger makes his own silverbullets this maybe the one hour special you are referring to.

      1. I just checked the pilot with Tex was them rescueing a girl from bad guys and was not a retelling it was just a regular episode so this special is the 1955 LR

    2. Hi Dumont,
      I need to get with you for more info on the fall season your summer notes what you are describing about the brand new special is the 1955 Color LR that Jack Wrather made in 1955 that I am trying to find.

  5. Tex hill is my dad and yes he did star in it .he told me so. I also been to a lot of movie sets with him when i was growing up. Email him if you like.

    1. Hi Shane,
      Your dad’s pilot is out there somewhere. I have been helping him try to find it. I know as of Oct 17 1990 it still existed nothing can be put on IMDB without verifacation 1990 is when IMDB was launched.

  6. I found Tex Hill’s e-mail address about 3 years ago or so, and started e-mailing him and asking him about his role as the Lone Ranger and the “pilot” for CBS and he told me that CBS did film a new Lone Ranger Pilot, but never aired. I got to know Tex via e-mail and he shared some stories about his movie career and his stint as an extra in many films, most were uncredited roles, but you could clearly see that Tex was in the film (I will check my data base to see if I can locate my e-mails with Tex).
    I asked him if he would be willing to xxautograph some photos if he had them and if he had any silver bullets for sale: I have 2 silver bullets and two autographed photos of Tex as The Lone Ranger. I lost contact with Tex Hill about 2 years ago or more…I believe his story and know that his Lone Ranger outfit and gun rig was to be donated to the Gene Autry musem.

    I will do my best to find my e-mail coorespondence with Tex and share what I can.

    Best regards,

    Ernie B

  7. I emailed tex awhile back myself but I never heard form him either I don’t know what happened. IMDB was launched on Oct 17 1990 since this LR is on there veirfication of existance has to be made before it can be put on IMDB so that tells me this pilot is out there somewhere Tex thought it might have been destroyed in 1963 but with this it is still out there

    1. Bobby, I have seen a lot of inaccurate information on IMDb so the fact that this pilot has an IMDb entry does not mean it actually exists.

      1. You are very right I have seen that also. When Tex had his lone ranger story put in the silverbullet newsletter Sept 2004 he gave a couple of titles that had been talked about one was the lone ranger rides again and the other was Masked rider of Texas but as far has he knew no title was given that’s when I went to IMDB just to see and saw this. That’s why I asumed it was still out there Because of that title.

  8. The return of the lone ranger was not made by ABC but rather by an independant production company, called sixgun productions. It might have been intended by the production company to have been a pilot but it most certainly if I remember with correspondance with the head of the Lone Ranger fan-club, it seems to be lost and might not have been completed

  9. Hi Robbie,
    I just saw your reply the only thing is like I said and I still have the email that imdb sent me that they won’t allow info to be on imdb without verification of existence so who ever put this on imdb had to prove it exist I wish who ever it was would come forward and give us the info.

  10. My dad TeX Hill passed away February 28 2014. So most of your questions can’t be answered now. Thank you for looking and watching his shows. RIP Tex Hill

  11. I have seen several photos in the past showing Tex Hill in his later years posing with a mask, I assume this was due to his connection with the 60’s pilot. Gene

    1. Hi Gene,
      Yes it is He made the one pilot that is out there somewhere. The mask picture is in relation to that. Does anyone know how I can reach Dumont his post the 1963 fall tv season the brand new special he is describing is the color LR that jack Wrather made in 1955 that I am trying to find I would like to talk to him

  12. Hello Everyone,
    I am the new Director at the Gene Autry Oklahoma Museum. This is a great and interesting discussion and I would love to speak with y’all about this and anything else related to Tex Hill or the Singing Cowboys. Feel free to email me at [email protected]. Thanks!

  13. I had the chance to meet Mr. Hill one year at the Gene Autry Museum! I too have a few photos of him! He sent one of him and Clayton Moore together! I asked him about the pilot that he made and he said it was made in the Dallas, Texas area! I asked him who played “Tonto” in the pilot, and he said that “Skeeter” Vaughan did. He said that Mr. Vaughan was also known as “Chief Grey Otter”. Skeeter was born as George Vaughan Dec. 4,1922 and passed away March 8, 1989 at the age of 66 in Sequim, Washington. I have since pulled up photos of Mr. Vaughan as an Indian actor, and he looked pretty convincing! I talked with Mr. Hill on the internet up until he passed away! He continued as “The Lone Ranger” in numerous rodeos with his white horses. He will be missed!

  14. Hi All,
    As stated last year, I am the Executive Director with the Gene Autry Oklahoma Museum in Gene Autry, OK. Tex Hill was friends with the former director and we have an extensive collection of his artifacts INCLUDING his Actual Lone Ranger costume (down to the guns and silver bullets) as well as a Black & White promo photo of Tex as the Lone Ranger. So, yes, he DID film a pilot. Whether it was with CBS or Six Gun or someone else I have no record. The story that was shared with me was it was an “independent” film company so I would lean towards Six Gun…But there is no debate on whether Tex Hill ever WAS the Lone Ranger. He was, even if were for a very short time.

  15. Weren’t the 1960-61 NBC reruns of “Lone Ranger” the final (1956-57) color season, with those episodes being broadcast in color for the first time?

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