Z is for Zorro

My recollection of the series is a bit sketchy, but that theme was seared into my brain.


Zorro, which means, “the fox”, is a character, created nearly a century ago by writer Johnston McCulley, who “fought injustice in Spanish California’s Pueblo de Los Angeles.” There have been several iterations of the character, in literature, in film, and on television, as you can read here.

From Wikipedia: “Zorro…is the secret identity of Don Diego de la Vega…a nobleman and master…The character has undergone changes through the years, but the typical image of him is a dashing black-clad masked outlaw who defends the people of the land against tyrannical officials and other villains. Not only is he much too cunning and foxlike for the bumbling authorities to catch, but he delights in publicly humiliating those same foes.”

It occurred to me that Zorro was a progenitor of those millionaire playboy fop/dark costumed avengers, complete with a secret cave, and a trustworthy butler.

As far as I can recall, though, the only iteration that I’ve actually seen is the TV version from the 1950s, and perhaps the comic book tie-ins from Dell/Gold Key. And I probably wasn’t watching it in its original broadcast, but rather one of those endless Disney reruns.

There is a great website about the 1957-1959 version of Zorro, maintained by Bill Cotter, author of The Wonderful World of Disney Television.

I’m most fascinated by the star of that series, Guy Williams. I was familiar with him best as the father/commander John Robinson on the 1965-1968 TV show, Lost in Space. Like many actors in that era, especially those with particularly “ethnic” names, he changed his to something more Anglo. He was born Armand Joseph Catalano in 1924.

“To play Zorro…, the chosen actor would have to be handsome and have some experience with fencing. Walt Disney himself interviewed Guy Williams, telling him (comically) to start growing a mustache ‘neither very long or thick’ (i.e. somewhat like Disney’s own mustache). The exclusive contract paid Williams the then very high wage of $2,500 per week, as he had demanded.” To prepare, Williams took both fencing and guitar lessons… “The [hit] show spanned 78 episodes over two seasons (1957–1959) and two movies edited from TV episodes – The Sign of Zorro (1958) and Zorro the Avenger (1959) – with its theme-song (composed by Norman Foster and George Bruns) reaching #17 of the Hit Parade, performed by The Mellomen.

My recollection of the series is a bit sketchy, but that theme was seared into my brain.

ABC Wednesday – Round 9

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