Saturday, August 01, 2009

who was that masked man?

In the early days of network radio, "The Lone Ranger" originated out of a station in Detroit and, as was standard practice then, each episode was performed live twice; once for the east coast and again two hours later for the west coast. Technically it was possible to record a radio program in advance but the difference in audio quality was obvious and advertisers insisted on live broadcasts.

One of the trademarks of "The Lone Ranger" was that every episode ended with someone asking "Who was that masked man?" to which would always come the reply, "It was... the Lone Ranger!"

It so happened that one time that last line fell to an older man who had been hired just for that day to fill an extra role. They did the first performance, which went according to plan, but when they were done, rather than just wait around the station the cast decided to all go to a nearby bar.

Of course they had too much to drink, and lost track of time and just barely made it back for the start of the second show. The director was expecting disaster but amazingly, the show went great; it was shaping up to be one of their best performances ever.

Sensing a chance to fine tune the performance the director pulled aside the older man during a commercial break and said, "That was just fine the way you said 'It was the Lone Ranger' in the first show, but this time I'd like you to really hit it."

"I want you to say it like you're talking about the most important person in the world... I want you to say it like you're introducing THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES!"

He sends the guy back in and the show continues, still going great. Finally they get to the last scene and the question is posed "Who was that masked man?"


Everyone turns to the older man. He glances at the director, takes a deep breath and stammers, "It was... it was... Herbert Hoover!!!"

I heard that story from Professor Dan Viamonte of the Division of Radio, Television and Film at the University of North Texas, so it must be true.

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