As this is the year in which the Television Crossover Hall of Fame is focused on the League of Themselves, then the month of August - our longest-lasting tradition of theme showcases - should do the same with regards to the TV Western. We've inducted John Wayne in the past, and he would have been perfect for this year, had we only saved him. But I have another choice that should work just as well, if not on such an epic scale.....
Sadly, too many of today's generation - maybe even one or two previous generations - won't know who John Hart was. But he was an actor who was the Toobworld personification of James Fenimore Cooper's Natty "Hawkeye" Bumppo from the TV series adaptation of 'The Last of the Mohicans'. He was also known as the second actor to play the Lone Ranger in that long-ago classic TV Western, 'The Lone Ranger'.
Hart... was eventually offered the opportunity to replace Clayton Moore on 'The Lone Ranger' television series. Based on the assumption that the masked character, rather than the actor, was the true star of 'The Lone Ranger', the program's producers fired Moore (presumably over salary differences) and replaced him with Hart, who was of a similar build and had a comparable background in Westerns. However, the public never truly accepted Hart as the Lone Ranger, and by 1954 the producers returned Moore to the role. According to Clayton Moore's autobiography "I Was That Masked Man", Moore never knew why he was replaced with John Hart, and also stated that he had not sought a pay increase. Interestingly, he acted in minor roles in two episodes of 'The Lone Ranger' before being asked to replace Clayton Moore for the entire third season. The episodes were "Rifles and Renegades" (#34) and "Sheriff at Gunstock" (#46).
So Clayton Moore was the first actor to portray Reid (first name never known), but as far as Toobworld is concerned, when we saw him on screen as the Lone Ranger, that WAS the Lone Ranger. We were seeing the television timeline play out as is the case with most of the TV shows we watch.
But when we saw those 50-odd episodes in which John Hart was playing the Lone Ranger, what we were seeing was the TV show within the TV Universe which was about the Western hero and his Indian sidekick Tonto starring John Hart.
So that would be the first notch in his belt as a member of the League of Themselves.
An inductee into the TV Crossover Hall Of Fame would need three different shows to qualify for membership, and talk shows, game shows, and news reports shouldn't count. But luckily for John Hart we have two more entries which are also tied into the legend of the Lone Ranger.
Back in the 1950s, while he was still appearing in the TV series, John Hart made a personal appearance in Milwaukee at Fonzie's birthday party dressed as the Lone Ranger:
Howard and Chachi go above and beyond to try to win a dinner with the Lone Ranger for Fonzie's birthday, while the Fonz begins to wonder if he should start thinking about settling down with just one girl. -- IMDb Plot: "Hi Yo, Fonzie Away"
(Although this took place in the 1950s, it was not seen by the Trueniverse audience until February of 1982.)
Mr. Hart was then called upon again, about thirty years later, to inspire another young man......
GREATEST AMERICAN HERO
Ralph retires the suit after his super-heroics result in a near-tragedy. Bill desperately needs Ralph to help him crack a corrupt cop caper masterminded by a war buddy. Can the Lone Ranger remind Ralph of a hero's great responsibility? -- IMDb Plot: My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys
So even though the two episodes were only about a year apart, within the realm of Toobworld there was a thirty year span between them.
Knowing that all of John Hart's episodes for 'The Lone Ranger' were TV shows with the dimension of Earth Prime-Time, that means the actors appearing in them in co-starring roles, especially Jay Silverheels, were actually appearing as themselves playing the characters. One that comes to mind is DeForest Kelley, who would go on to immortality as Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy. He also played himself in a 1980s phone commercial so those two disparate productions could be considered as being linked according to this theory of mine. (Which is to say, what is mine, is mine.)
Hiyo Sylvania, away!