The faithful Indian companion and partner of the Lone Ranger known as Tonto
Jay Silverheels played the role of Tonto on the TV series, the Ranger's faithful companion that saved the ambushed Texas Ranger and nursed him back to health. Although in the story line of the Lone Ranger, Tonto was of the Potawatamie Tribe, Jay was actually a Native American descending from the Mohawk tribe and raised in Ontario, Canada.
Famous for making the words "Kemo-Sabe", very recognized words referring to a close friend, few people remember that in the Lone Ranger radio series, it was the Ranger that more often than not addressed Tonto as Kemo-Sabe. The phrase has been said by some to be Potawotamie for "trusty scout" and others say "faithful friend". Even Clayton Moore at different times has referenced both meanings for the phrase.
A ways into the series, Jay Silverheels suffered a heart attack and the writers decided to write "Dan Reid", the Lone Ranger's nephew (Dan was also an often appearing character in the Radio shows), into the series to become the Ranger's sidekick until Jay could recover and return to the role of Tonto. It was explained in the story that Tonto was off to Washington meeting with the "Great White Father" concerning Indian affairs.
Jay Silverheels suffered a stroke in 1974 and passed away on March 5 1980 after several years of ill health. After the series ended Jay was very active in promoting the culture and rights of Native Americans.
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