Whatever Happened To Klinton Spilsbury?

28 May

Last night, I was flipping through the channels and came across The Legend of the Lone Ranger, the 1981 reboot of the classic character. At the time, it seemed to have a lot going for it. Jason Robards starred as President Ulysses S. Grant. Christopher Lloyd played the bad guy. Matt Clark was the corrupt sheriff. Merle Haggard sang the theme song and narrated the film. Richard Farnsworth showed up as Wild Bill Hickok. Heck, the entire thing was based on a famous character that many people loved.

However, there was a problem. John Reid and his alter ego the Lone Ranger was played by an unknown actor named Klinton Spilsbury, and it did not work out well.

Through the years, I have heard the story that his lines were later dubbed by James Keach. I have also heard that this was Spilsbury’s first and last starring role in a movie. There are not many times that one role destroys an entire career.

The Legend of the Lone Ranger has gone down as one of the biggest disasters in movie history, and a lot of that has been placed at the feet of Spilsbury. However, I have never considered it to be that bad. Yes, it is corny, and the plot is a little strange. But, that can be said about a lot of movies. Could it have been better? No doubt. I am just not sure that the Man in the Mask should have taken all of the blame.

Despite all of that, this post is not about the movie. It is about Klinton Spilsbury. What happens to someone when their entire career is derailed by one movie? As it turns out, nobody really knows. Through Google, I found out that he went to Europe to be a model and later tried to restart his acting career. When Johnny Depp made another Lone Ranger disaster in 2013, media members found Spilsbury, but he refused to talk to them. I cannot blame him for that.

Klinton Spilsbury was a first-time actor working for a first-time director. On top of that, the studio sued Clayton Moore, the most famous Lone Ranger, for continuing to appear as the character. In short, this movie had a ton of problems.

Klinton Spilsbury disappeared from the public eye. Wherever he is, I wonder if he has put the Lone Ranger behind him. Who is that Masked Man? Well, the answer is complicated.

8 Responses to “Whatever Happened To Klinton Spilsbury?”

  1. Marilyn Armstrong May 29, 2019 at 04:53 #

    There are a lot of actors who actually did very well in their one and only movie but never made another. The kid in “A Little Romance” with Laurence Olivier — Thelonious Bernard who decided he didn’t like acting and went on to become a suburban dentist. Or Horst Buccholz who had a series of hit movies, then decided HE didn’t like Hollywood and went back to Germany where he became a TV host.

    Or the kid who made the two Black Stallion movies who never got another movie went back to driving a truck, had a major accident and spent the rest of his life barely able to walk. I always look at these people up to see if I can find out what happened to them. There’s always a story.

    Remember whatshisname who played Davy Crockett on Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Club who went off to make a fortune in real estate? Or James Drury, who was pretty wealthy before he made his 90-minutes TV series and afterward, never made anything else? He said he was too tired to even think about more work.

    I think I saw that movie. I probably did because I’m such a Lone Ranger fan, I’ll always watch it, no matter how hokey it is!

    There are so many of these stories. Sometimes, there is no information to find, but sometimes, if you dig a little, there is a tale to be told. And always some troll to argue about it, too.

    • Rick May 29, 2019 at 13:36 #

      It’s interesting to see kids who made movies then went on to do other things. They may be the lucky ones because a lot of kids who stay in the business end up with issues.

      • Marilyn Armstrong May 29, 2019 at 20:27 #

        Many of them stop being “cute” and never get any more parts. Surprising few “child” or teenage actors are still in the business by the time they are 30.

    • Joanie MacPhee (@JoanieGentian) November 30, 2020 at 02:25 #

      I was in that movie as an extra, dressed as a Mexican peasant with Finnish complexion, in purple wool from head to toe, It was a winter scene though filmed in the 100 degree New Mexican desert near Madrid. I was in a few scenes, but most memorably, I spent the whole afternoon with Klinton Spilsbury and what seemed like thousands of extras waiting for “President Grant” to arrive on a train. By the end of the day, those seemed-like-thousands of extras each knew Klinton Spilsbury’s lines better than he did. He just could not remember them or spit them out. Any of them, it seemed.
      They ended up scrapping that whole scene, and replaced it with a rendezvous scene in a church as I remember. But I’d had enough. They’d run out of water for us to drink and I never came back. That too was my career in the movies. But at least I remembered my…well no, it was Spilsbury’s…lines.

      • Rick January 19, 2021 at 04:11 #

        That is a great story and must have been an interesting experience. I have been to Madrid many times. It is my favorite part of the country.

  2. David Gibbs May 5, 2020 at 00:47 #

    Just watched the movie.It is pretty bad.Klinton Spilsbury was truly miscast.He should have been a telegraph pole.

    • Rick May 10, 2020 at 21:54 #

      I don’t know why it is so difficult to make a good Lone Ranger movie.

      • David Gibbs May 10, 2020 at 23:19 #

        They made a couple of brilliant ones in the 50s.Just stuck to the story and they had Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels of course.

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