Actually this animated short is called “Thank You Mask Man“. It was created in 1968, a couple years after comedian Lenny Bruce died. John Magnuson produced this cartoon depiction of Lenny’s one-man breakdown of the Lone Ranger and what a messed up dude he would be if he were real. The animation is by Jeff Hale who went on to direct the Pinball Number Count animations on Sesame Street and worked on everything from Muppet Babies to Heavy Metal.
The Lone Ranger character dates back to the 1930′s on radio and was later adapted into a TV show that ran in the 40s and 50′s. Tonto was added in the 11th radio episode, so that LR would have someone to talk to (and not for the reason that is mentioned in this cartoon). The Green Hornet (originally a radio show and very recently a movie) was actually a spin-off of The Lone Ranger. The Lone Ranger is supposedly Green Hornet’s Great Uncle. How weird is that?
Lenny Bruce was a legendary comedian who blazed a trail for freedom of speech in comedy and in public in general. In the early 60′s, Bruce was arrested on-stage multiple times for the “dirty words” he used in his routines. His rapid fire, jazz-influenced, social satire had a free-flowing style where he never quite delivered one of his bits the same way twice. The content (and probably also the mischievous glee) of his routines got him labeled as “sick comedy” in the late 50′s.
Here’s Lenny not long before his death performing a portion of the routine that got him arrested in San Francisco in 1961…