WHO REALLY WAS THAT MASKED MAN?
In the 1930s framing sequence, a Texas Ranger says that he recently brought cattle rustlers to justice in cooperation with ranchers from the B-Bar-B in Big Bend County, the TM Bar in Dobie County, and the Bar 20, as well as an Arizona rancher-pilot who is a kind of “king” of the sky and a mystery-loving Texan detective called “Doc.” The Ranger’s horse is named Charcoal, and other horses ridden during the operation include Amigo, Tony, and Topper III. The Ranger was sent a historical puzzle a few months back by a daily newspaper called the Sentinel. The stack of documents sent to him by the paper’s publisher includes stories torn from the London Times. The documents describe the true story of a former Ranger who became a legend in the Old West. In the tale, a Dodge City Marshal talks with his Deputy and a man who has a gray steel and rainbow mother-of-pearl six-shooter in his holster. The man with the gun is planning to go shooting with Ted, an old friend of his from Tennessee, who recently spent some time with a Mountie and his remarkable dog in the Yukon Territory. The Marshal is friends with a sheriff in Canyon County. The man with the six-shooter mentions “that lovely lady down at the Longbranch.” A Masked Man and his Indian companion ride into town to turn Deuce Cavendish, a cousin of an infamous outlaw they once brought to justice, over to the Marshal. The Masked Man volunteers to take Cavendish to Doc’s office. The Marshal has Wanted posters of two Mexicans, one of whom is trim and handsome and calls himself “Kid,” while the other is fat and almost slovenly. The Masked Man has a friend who is a Cavalry Captain at Fort Laramie. The Mexicans, who ride horses named Diablo and Loco, come across the Masked Man and the Indian. The Kid says he knows of only one man who is not a bandito and who wore a mask, and the Masked Man is not El Zorro. A red-haired man and a young Indian boy ride to Dodge City from Painted Valley to get a birthday present for the Duchess. Three men meet in an outpost some distance from Dodge: a man with dark, somewhat wavy hair and a thick mustache; a cattleman with silver hair and a neckerchief clasp in the shape of a steer’s head; and an Englishman who seems to be a kind of frontier gentleman, and who bears an uncanny resemblance to the dark-haired man. The silver-haired man, who calls himself Bill, has an elderly sidekick. The two come across the cave of a Comanche and his grizzled companion, and Bill notices that the Comanche resembles a rancher they recently encountered.
Short story by Don Glut in Radio Western Adventures, Bill Cunningham, ed., Pulp 2.0 Press, 2010. This story is a tour-de-force crossover between many characters from radio westerns. The Texas Ranger is Jayce Pearson from Tales of the Texas Rangers. The B-Bar-B ranch and Amigo are from Bobby Benson and the B-Bar B Riders. The TM Bar and Tony are from Tom Mix Ralston Straight Shooters. The Bar 20 is from Hopalong Cassidy, based on short stories by Clarence E. Mulford. The silver-haired man is Hopalong himself, while his sidekick is California Carlson. Topper III is a descendant of Hopalong’s horse Topper. The Arizona rancher-pilot is the title character of Sky King, while the Texan detective is “Doc” Long from I Love a Mystery. The Sentinel is the newspaper published by Britt Reid, aka the Green Hornet. The former Texas Ranger of the Old West is John Reid, aka the Lone Ranger. The Green Hornet radio series established that Britt Reid was John Reid’s great-nephew. The Ranger’s Indian companion is Tonto, while Deuce Cavendish is the cousin of his foe Butch Cavendish. The London Times is from Frontier Gentleman. The title character of that show is Times reporter J.B. Kendall. The Marshal and his Deputy are Matt Dillon and Chester from Gunsmoke. “That lovely lady at the Longbranch” and Doc are Miss Kitty Russell and Galen “Doc” Adams from that series. The man with the colorful gun is Britt Ponset from The Six Shooter. The Mountie and his dog are Sgt. Preston and King from Challenge of the Yukon. The Sheriff of Canyon County is Mark Chase of Death Valley Sheriff. The Kid and his sidekick are the Cisco Kid and Pancho. The radio version of the Cisco Kid is much more good-natured than the character’s original version in O. Henry’s tale “The Caballero’s Way.” Also, Henry’s Cisco Kid was a white man whose last name was Goodall, rather than a Mexican. The radio Kid likely assumed his literary namesake’s alias for reasons of his own. Diablo and Loco are the Kid and Pancho’s horses, respectively. The Lone Ranger’s friend is Captain Lee Quince from Fort Laramie. Zorro is self-explanatory. The red-haired man from Painted Valley is the title character of Red Ryder, based on the comic strip of the same name, while his sidekick is Little Beaver. The Duchess is Red’s aunt. The dark-haired man is Paladin from Have Gun – Will Travel. Both Paladin and J.B. Kendall were played on radio by John Dehner. The Comanche is the title character of Straight Arrow, who is also known as rancher Steve Adams. His sidekick is Packy McCloud. The year is conjecture.
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