On this Retro Radio Memories offering we are continuing our marathon of The Lone Ranger – that classic bit of Old Time Radio that was set in the thrilling days of yesteryear. Branded A Coward was originally broadcast on July 25th of 1938 and once again stars Earl Graser as the Ranger with John Todd as Tonto. The Lone Ranger was a radio series that had the popularity to be broadcast on radio beginning in 1933 and lasting until 1954 – to say nothing of course of the equally exceptional TV series that hit the airwaves in 1949 and lasted for eight seasons. While I had heard about The Lone Ranger radio series from my Grandparents – much like with The Green Hornet and of course The Shadow, it was the Ranger and Tonto played by Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels where I first fell in love with the character. Thanks to Sunday morning reruns that were played on the TBS Superstation – The Lone Ranger became a staple of my visits to my Grandparents every weekend.
Having said that, thanks to Saturday morning cartoons, I would continue to find my appreciation of the Lone Ranger character grow. At the same time it helped to fan the flames of my love of pulp characters – because you see the Ranger and Tonto were featured in the 1980’s Filmation animated series entitled The Tarzan/Lone Ranger Adventure Hour and when Zorro was introduced in 1981 – the show became The Tarzan/Lone Ranger/Zorro Adventure Hour. Three iconic heroes all in one package and it had the bonus of having William Conrad (Rocky and Bullwinkle) provide his distinct voice as both narrator and as the Ranger himself. Which if you listened to the Retro Radio Memories podcast on the Retroist you might recall he played Marshal Matt Dillion in the Gunsmoke old time radio show.
Now then, our episode today entitled Branded A Coward finds both the Lone Ranger and Tonto looking for a place where they can rest for the night. Which is how they come across the range of Lee and Ruth Taylor, in fact the champions of justice in the Old West have a rather explosive first encounter with Ruth. As she attempts to shoot them thinking they were a man by the name of Steve Drago – an unscrupulous cattle rancher – who has made life for the Taylor’s quite difficult. As we learn from her Husband, Drago has blocked off the water source for the couples ranch – posting goons around the watering hole to insure the Taylor’s cattle are dying off. Worst of all for Lee is that his Wife has lost all respect for her Husband as he is unwilling to take a stand against Drago and his men, something that he explains the Men of his Family have ‘suffered’ from. We learn that Lee’s Father was so timid that he was gunned down without defending himself in another town and the young man firmly believes that he has been labeled a coward for good reason.