BUFFALO, N.Y. — Fran Striker may not be a household name, but chances are, you know of his work. He is the man who created one of the most well-known Old West heroes of all time, The Lone Ranger.
Striker was born and raised in Buffalo, went to the University at Buffalo, and then got his first radio job at WEBR. When he was at WEBR, Striker became an announcer and writer. One of the most famous characters of all-time flowed from his brain, through his typewriter, and out over the air.
Now the man behind the Lone Ranger is being celebrated in a new novel.
"I don't know where I first heard about Fran Striker, but when I did, I was amazed I had never heard of him before," said author Stephen Eoannou. He was hooked.
"I really got interested in this person who had such an impact on 20th century pop culture, that has sort of been forgotten over the years."
So interested that Eoannou has made him the principal and focus of his latest Buffalo-based novel, "Yesteryear."
"The basic timeline is sort of true. I condensed it a little bit for Fran's story. The basic elements are true. I just started thinking about Buffalo at that period. That's when I pulled in real life characters like the Undertaker, the mob boss out of Niagara Falls, and Jimmy Slattery. I don't know if they intersected, but they could have."
In fact, at the beginning of the book, Striker has dealings with Stefano Magaddino, the infamous mob boss and crosses paths with Slattery, the former light heavyweight champ, in a location familiar to many - the bar at Voelker's bowling alley. Voelker's was within walking distance of Striker's real life home on Granger Place in North Buffalo.
That is also a point where fact and fiction go hand in hand.
"Legend has it he had two offices. One at his house on Granger Place and one at his mother in law's house." Eoannou said. "So when he got too annoying to his family and neighbors with the constant typing at one house, he'd go and work at the other."
Another facet of Striker's life that Eoannou captures in "Yesteryear" is the fact that Striker was a prolific writer, a workaholic, who in the end, put family first.
The biggest example of that is when he took a job in Detroit to support his family during the great depression, even though it meant he would later give up the rights to the shows he created. That included the legendary characters, The Lone Ranger and Green Hornet.
This year, we celebrate Striker, and the birth of that mysterious masked man he brought to life. Eoannou timed his book in a landmark year.
"This is the 90th anniversary of when the Ranger first rode into our hearts."