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John Hart (actor)

Personal information
Birth dateDecember 13, 1917
Place of birthLos Angeles, California, United States
Date of deathSeptember 20, 2009(age 91)
Death placePlayas de Rosarito, Baja California, Mexico
SpouseBeryl Braithwaite Hart(1957-2009)

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:This article is about the American cinema actor named John Hart. For other uses, see John Hart (disambiguation).

John Hart (December 13, 1917 - September 20, 2009) was an American motion picture and television actor, born in Los Angeles, California. In his early career, he appeared mostly in Westerns. Although he played mostly minor roles in some fairly well known films, he was probably best-known for replacing Clayton Moore in 1952 for one season of the television show The Lone Ranger when Moore demanded a higher salary.

Based on the assumption that the masked character, rather than the actor was the true star of The Lone Ranger, the program producers fired Moore 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 Ranger," and by 1954 the owners acquiesced to Moore's demands and returned him to the role. According to Clayton Moore's autobiography, I Was That Masked Man, Moore never knew why he was replaced with John Hart. He also stated that he had not sought a pay increase to portray "The Lone Ranger".

Though terminated, Hart continued to act in films for over two more decades on a fairly regular basis. He appeared in films of several genres, almost always in supporting roles.

In 1955, he starred in Adventures of Captain Africa, which was originally intended to be a new movie about famous comic book hero The Phantom. However, licencing issues made Columbia re-film the entire serial and re-christen the hero "Captain Africa".

In 1957, Hart portrayed Nat "Hawkeye" Cutler in the syndicated western series Hawkeye and the Last of the Mohicans, set in New York State of the 1750s. The one-season program was based loosely on the novels of James Fenimore Cooper. It was filmed in Canada and featured some Indians in a favorable image. Interviewed by Tom Weaver in "Western Clippings" magazine (May June 2000), Hart revealed that he met actress Beryl Braithwaite when she played a role in an episode of the series; they married just days later, with "Hawkeye" co-star Lon Chaney, Jr., the best man at the wedding.

Hart played The Lone Ranger along side Jay Silverheels as Tonto, spoofing their characters in The Phynx, released in 1970.

His last film appearance was in 1981's The Legend of the Lone Ranger in which he appeared as a newspaper editor, apparently as a tribute to his time as "The Ranger" years earlier. Another appearance was in the television series Happy Days as "The Lone Ranger" in the episode "Hi Yo, Fonzie Away" (Feb. 9, 1982), with Hart reprising his role as "The Lone Ranger". In this episode Fonzie, played by Henry Winkler meets his childhood hero, The Lone Ranger, for his birthday. The other major late appearance was in a The Greatest American Hero episode, My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys, where Hart gives the title character an inspiring speech about heroism. John Hart also had numerous supporting roles in Highway Patrol.

On September 20, 2009 Hart died at his home in Playas de Rosarito, Baja California at the age of 91, survived by his wife Beryl and a daughter. His ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean.

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