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Francis Hamilton Striker was born in Buffalo, New York. Striker attended Lafayette High School and the University of Buffalo but soon dropped out of college, first serving a brief stint in New York City with an amateur theatrical company, and then returning to Buffalo and joining the staff of radio station WEBR, working as an announcer. He moved to WTAM in Cleveland, Ohio in 1929, where he served as announcer, continuity writer, and wrote his first radio drama script, a biography of Stephen Foster. Lured back to WEBR as station manager, Striker wrote material ranging from skits to half hour mysteries and Western scripts.
Striker soon drifted to freelancing, creating and writing his own series and selling them to stations across the United States. He began a long association with station owner George W. Trendle and radio station WXYZ in Detroit, which was trying to carve a name for itself as a producer of radio drama, creating and writing the early series Thrills of the Secret Service, Dr. Fang, and Warner Lester, Manhunter (which introduced Mike Axford, later a supporting character on The Green Hornet).
Late in 1932, Trendle and his staff worked out the basic concepts for a new radio series featuring a masked cowboy - a lone Texas ranger with a big white horse. Then it was turned over to Fran Striker to flesh out the details and provide the scripts.
Striker began working on The Lone Ranger; adding many of his own ideas to the character and single-handedly writing the early scripts. Striker's earliest scripts were largely reworked from a prior series of his, called Covered Wagon Days. His other contributions to the series, included the Ranger's silver bullets and the creation of Tonto.
A letter from George W. Trendle dated Monday, January 30, 1933 clearly gives Striker credit for creating the character. However, by 1934, Striker was pressured by Trendle to sign over his rights to the Lone Ranger and Trendle claimed credit as the creator. This sparked long term controversy over the creation of The Lone Ranger, extending as far as a 1960 television appearance by Striker on To Tell the Truth, which mentioned his role in the character's creation.
The actual first "trial" episodes of The Lone Ranger were broadcast on WEBR in Buffalo, NY prior to the official "premiere" on WXYZ. These first broadcasts starred Buffalo actor John L. Barrett weeks before George Stenius (who later changed his name to George Seaton and became a film director) played the role.
When the Lone Ranger series began to gain popularity, Trendle convinced Striker to move to WXYZ and he eventually became head of WXYZ's script department.
Striker was extremely prolific; in addition to writing 156 Lone Ranger scripts a year, he wrote The Green Hornet (built around the Lone Ranger's descendant, Britt Reid),and a short-lived series called Ned Jordan Secret Agent and scripted various Lone Ranger novels, two movie serials, and the Lone Ranger comic strip. He contributed scripts to Challenge of the Yukon (which was later adapted for television as Sergeant Preston of the Yukon). Striker's work as a comic writer extended to stints on The Green Hornet comic books and writing the 1945 newspaper strip The Sea Wolf.
Trendle fired Striker for a brief period in the 1940s, after Striker requested an increase in salary. Trendle eventually rehired him several months later, after Striker "had learned his lesson".
Striker's later work included stints on the television versions of The Lone Ranger and Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, which were initially being produced while the radio series were still on the air. He provided the stories for many television episodes by reworking old scripts from the radio series. Other writers adapted the stories for television and were credited as the "scriptwriter". Striker's credit was given as "From the Radio Program Edited by Fran Striker".
Striker died in a car accident in 1962, at the age of 59, in the midst of moving with his wife and children. His final work was a historical novel, One More River, published posthumously.
Date of Birth: 1903
Birthplace: Buffalo, New York
Date of death: September 4, 1962
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