“Hi Yo, Silver / Hi Ho, Silver” and the murky history of the Lone Ranger’s catchphrase.

“Come on, Silver! Let’s go, big fellow! Hi yo, Silver! Away!”

… “Hi YO, Silver!?”

If I was hard pressed to recall the Lone Rangers famous catchphrase correctly or forfeit my life, I’d have sadly died today. I remember it as “Hi HO, Silver!”; a phrase we’d often shout as kids while chasing each other around in the sandbox. The “Hi YO, Silver” while audible, sounds alien to my ears; it’s a wonder how I’d ever make the mistake in the first place.

Dave Barry, “I had always believed the Lone Ranger shouted ‘Hi-ho, Silver! Away!’ ”

Strangely enough, there seems to exist a history of people discovering with great surprise that whilst upon Silver’s back, the Lone Ranger uttered a “Yoooo!” instead of a “Hoooo!”. Dave Barry, the syndicated humor columnist, put out an article in 2000, where he stated that he was shocked to find out it was always “Hi Yo, Silver”, and it quickly opened up the floor to a furious debate, with many people writing in to claim it had always been either “Hi Yo” or “Hi Ho”. Where does all this ambiguity stem from?

The 1939 “Hi Ho Silver / Hi Yo Silver” case

Digging a little deeper through newspaper archives found on Newspapers.com, I stumbled across this court case that took place in 1939, where Buck Jones took Republic Pictures studio to court claiming he originated the “Hi Ho Silver” catch phrase. The court case lasted several days and blazed a trail across national papers.

“Perhaps this is where the studio gets reprimanded, Buck Jones wins against the ‘bad guys’ once again, and Republic Pictures has to change the phrase to ‘Hi Yo, Silver’ to evade copyright!”

Sounds like a reasonable rationalization, however the more research I did, the murkier the facts became...

Associated Press — May 10
Associated Press — May 9

I quickly found more articles that seemingly contradicted each other. These two were from the onset of the case and both originate from the Associated Press, yet one is titled “Buck Jones Claims ‘Hi Ho Silver’ Call”, and the other “Hi Yo, Silver is Debated in Court”. They both recount a similar story, except the part where Buck Jones is the original “Hi ho” or “Hi yo” shouter!

Maybe looking ahead at the final judgement might resolve some of this confusion. Yet, even there, the papers were all divided with how they reported the verdict!

Schrödinger’s Court Case!

“Buck Jones loses ‘Hi-Ho’ Court Act”, or “Buck Jones Loses ‘Hi, Yo, Silver’ Suit”?

Half of them claimed that Jones had no cause for action and that Republic Pictures could continue to use “Hi Ho, Silver” and at the same time half said the same thing of “Hi Yo, Silver”!

Okay, admittedly it’s starting to look odd, but wires get crossed, and there’s an easy way to solve this dilemna. Logically, all I’d have to do is check to see what catch phrase the Lone Ranger was slinging prior to 1939, and all will be made clear!

Hi Ho Silver! and Hi Yo Silver, both from same paper and year, 1938

Stumbling across these adverts threw further question marks into the air, both were from the same paper, and year, and both for the same radio station, yet somehow one showcases a “Hi Ho Silver!” and the other a “Hi Yo Silver”.

Licensed to conflict!

Another set of ads from 1938 doesn’t help matters much either. Both of these peddling Lone Ranger merch onto children, and both improbably using conflicting slogans once again!

“…one of the most widely used expressions on the Mainland today”

“Hi-Yo, Silver!, that’s one of the most widely used expressions on the Mainland today”, proclaims one article detailing how the Lone Ranger is being picked up by KGU in 1938. Amazingly, the KGU adverts from the same year only seem to mention “Hi Ho Silver”!

Early 1930s, and still divided over the “Hi Ho” and “Hi Yo!”

The furthest I could peer back into time was 1933, and somehow we are still divided on the “Hi Yo” and “Hi Ho” issue.

I began to wonder if I could trace any one Lone Ranger themed media event, and find similarly opposing accounts. Pictured here, the same story from 1942 written by a reporter for the United Press, Donald Coe, carried in various papers, about a troop of Americans who scared some Italian soldiers while raiding a Tunisian village. Strangely, half of them report the exact story as either “Hi Ho Silver”, or “Hi Yo Silver”.

Scaring Italians with “Hi Ho Silver”, or “Hi Yo Silver”?

Again, the press seems to be dizzy when it comes to this saying, in one article Clayton Moore makes it known that it’s “Hi Yo, Silver” and not “Hi Ho, Silver”. The next time we see Clayton, he’s hopping into a Mercedes and riding off in a cloud of dust with a hearty “Hi Ho Silver!”

Actor Clayton Moore, confused over his catchphrase.

Oddly, the evidence on all this seems rather inconclusive and soupy. How can there be so much ambiguity on a statement that many articles claim has become a “byword on the street”. How did I go 40 years of my life thinking it was “Hi Ho, Silver”, only to have it come into question within the last few months.

Are we really that sloppy when it comes to attention and details? Have we transcended duality? Perhaps we’re catching a glimpse into the multi-dimensional nature of reality, where both versions of reality are“true”.

From my perspective, it’s always been “Hi Ho, Silver”, though for the time being, it appears we’re all dialed into a reality, where “Hi Yo, Silver” was declared the ultimate victor!

Hi HO, Silver, and away!