In A Nutshell
The Lone Ranger and Django, the titular character from Django Unchained, are pretty far apart in terms of pop culture perception. And that’s not just because one of them is a white guy and the other is a former slave, either. Amazingly, it’s become widely believed that the inspiration for both of these fictional characters is the same man: Bass Reeves.
The Whole Bushel
The Lone Ranger and Django, played by Jamie Foxx in Django Unchained, probably couldn’t be farther apart in terms of perception in popular culture. The Lone Ranger was a lawman who was basically the Wild West’s first superhero, delivering justice to the wicked, while Django is a violent vigilante out for revenge in the bloodiest fashion possible.
That’s why it’s amazing that both characters are likely based on the same man, a guy named Bass Reeves, who was one of the first black lawmen in America. Reeves, a former slave, served as a deputy marshal for 32 years and was believed to have made over 3,000 arrests and killed 14 men during his career, all without ever once being shot himself.
Reeves was born in 1838, and after being freed from slavery he lived with a group of Native Americans. It was during this time he learned the ways of the Native Americans, including how to scout, that led many folks to believe he was the inspiration for The Lone Ranger. In addition, his exploits in taking down several groups of vicious bandits helped bolster the belief he was not only the inspiration behind the Ranger but also Django.
The similarities to the Lone Ranger also extend to the fact that, in order to track down and catch outlaws, Reeves became a master of disguises and would blend in with them in order to take them down, much like the fictional hero would in many of his stories. Reeves was also a large, intimidating man, standing at 6-foot-2 and weighing in with 200 pounds on his muscular frame, and he gained a reputation of being one of the most feared lawmen in the country. He was also reportedly such an incredible shot that he was banned from participating in any turkey shooting competitions.
Unfortunately, there’s no word on whether or not he had an eccentric and quirky Austrian dentist or a stoic Native American as a sidekick.
Show Me The Proof
Bass Reeves: The Real-Life Django, A Legendary African-American Marshal
BBC: America’s forgotten black cowboys
Was The Man Behind ‘The Lone Ranger’s’ Mask A Black Man?
Bass Reeves, the most feared U.S. Deputy Marshal