By all reports, the number of children that insisted their parents take them out to Belle Isle on that Sunday afternoon in July was at least 10,000 (some have written 100,000). Most had one thing on their minds—actually seeing the mysterious masked man who’s voice they listened to in the evenings. But they were in for a slight deception.
Earle Graser had taken over the role of the Lone Ranger from George Seaton that spring. Even though the broadcast voice of the Ranger at that time, Graser was no horseman nor considered to “look” the role physically. WXYZ station manager Brace Beemer, on the other hand, stood six feet three inches tall, had been around horses all his life, and was an experienced marksman. Pressed into service, Brace was given a western costume complete with mask and a white horse of dubious origin to ride.
What happened next was completely unexpected.
As he galloped in the arena, the stands emptied and 10,000 children ran out on the field to get closer to him. Asked by the police to help contain the situation, he stood high in his stirrups and shouted, “Back Rangers! Back to your posts!” While not the same voice as the one they’d heard on the radio, its deep, resonant authority was commanding and order was restored.
In those moments Brace Beemer became the public face, if not yet the voice, of radio’s Lone Ranger, and the program got just the publicity it needed to get a national sponsor.
Seveal hairs from the mane of this horse, Hero, the first horse to play the part of “Silver” are sealed in a plastic tube on display in the Brace Beemer exhibit in the museum in Mt. Carmel, IL. They are part of the collection I gave them.
I knew him and his wife.