Wild Wild Westerns

Inspired by "The Lone Ranger", starring Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer, we share a few of our favorite western artifacts!

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Wild Wild Westerns

Wild Wild Westerns

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Jay Silverheels at the Indian Actors Workshop, Echo Park, California, 1969. In addition to his work in film and on television, Silverheels cofounded the workshop to promote American Indian talent in Hollywood. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Screen Actors Guild. Paul Chaat Smith, NMAI Associate Curator, discusses the portrayal of the fictional Indian character Tonto.

"Is the New Tonto Any Better Than the Old Tonto?" Smithsonian Magazine reflects. #loneranger

This iconic black mask was used each week to disguise a virtuous Texas Ranger (played by Clayton Moore) as he, along with his trusted friend Tonto (played by Jay Silverheels), fought crime on the frontier. "The Lone Ranger", which began as a radio show, ran as a Western television series on ABC from 1949-57. #loneranger

The Lone Ranger's Mask | National Museum of American History


On each episode of the popular radio and television series "The Lone Ranger", the title character miraculously appeared and righted injustices, leaving behind a silver bullet as his mark. This silver bullet was used as a prop by the show's leading man, Clayton Moore. #loneranger

The Lone Ranger's Silver Bullet


This 1954 lunch box features drawings from the television series "The Lone Ranger", which ran from 1949-1957 on ABC. The front features the Lone Ranger uttering his trademark phrase “Hi-Yo Silver!,” and the back is both the Lone Ranger and Tonto riding their horses, the Ranger saying “Hi-Yo Silver,” and Tonto saying “Get-em Up Scout!” #loneranger

Nature scenes, such as this one, were a common motif in fruit crate labels as an attempt to invoke a sense of fresh, natural produce in the consumer.

"The Lone Ranger" -This silkscreen on paper was made by Elizabeth Olds in 1942. Smithsonian American Art Museum Transfer from the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution #loneranger

Spurs are one of the instruments that riders use to direct horses. A rider, such as The Lone Ranger, might have used spurs in conjunction with a verbal command, such as "Hi-yo, Silver, away!" to instruct a horse.

This 1956 lunch box features characters from "The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok", a popular western radio and television show that aired from 1951-1958. #westerns #television

This Lone Ranger stamp is from the "Early TV Memories" issue of 2009. Since his radio debut in 1933, this masked hero has captivated loyal fans in books, movies, comics, and -most successfully of all- television. Copyright U.S. Postal Service. #loneranger #postage

Arago: Early TV Memories Issue


This lunch box, modeled after a Ponderosa wagon, features iconic Western television show characters Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. It was made in 1958 by Thermos. #westerns #television

Collections | National Museum of American History


Did you know that the Lone Ranger wrote a book? Actor Clayton Moore, who donated many Lone Ranger objects to our collection, also shared with the public his experiences. #claytonmoore #loneranger

The cowboy imagery was popular on early 20th century shipping crates, such as this one.

One of many Warner Brother westerns, "Lawman" was a television show that ran from 1958-1962. The show took place in Laramie, Wyoming. #westerns #television

"OH! Gimme a horse, a great big horse, and gimme a buck-a-roo and let me wah-hoo! Wah-Hoo! WAH-HOO!" Music and lyrics by Cliff Friend in 1936

While the Lone Ranger may not have used a .36-caliber Paterson revolver, many real Texas Rangers did. This 1840 gun became famous for its use on the western frontier, and is sometimes called the "Texas" Paterson because of its association with the Texas Rangers.

Colt Holster Model Paterson Revolver (No. 5)


All Western Plastics released this Round-up King Yo-Yo in the 1950's. It features movie cowboy (and company spokesperson) Roy Rogers and his horse Trigger. #westerns

This lunch box was made in 1965 by Aladdin Industries. "Bonanza", one of the longest running shows of all time, was an action-packed western that aired on NBC. #westerns #television

Sheet music from the Motion Picture Movie, "Rollin' Plains" starring western icon Tex Ritter. #cowboys

Rollin' Plains [sheet music], 1938.


What's more American than apple pie? Apple crates with cowboys, of course! With the popularization of western imagery, it's not surprising that companies used such material to market their wares.

Tom Mix was a silent films star who made ten-gallon cowboy hats (such as this one, made by John B. Stetson Company) his trademark, and popularized the look around the country. #cowboy #hat

"Tom Mix" Style Cowboy Hat


"American Cowboy Classics" was released in 1945 and featured a number of songs, including Take Me Back to My Boots and Saddle and Cowboy Jack.

This steel lunch box features Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, the stars of "The Roy Rogers Show" (1951-1957), was one of the first officially licensed lunch boxes manufactured by Thermos.

Collections | National Museum of American History


"Brave Eagle" Lunch Box: "Brave Eagle" was a short-lived TV series, airing one season in 1955-1956 on CBS. The show was notable because its main protagonist was Native American, and featured scenes of the West from the Native American point of view.

"Have I Stayed Away Too Long" was written and composed by Frank Loesser in 1943, and has since been performed by a number of individuals, including Willie Nelson.