Z is for Zorro

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 the 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 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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32 thoughts on “Z is for Zorro

  1. Hmmmmmm handsome and experience with fencing? Hubby is good with fencing – he erected a mighty fine one at our last home. It withheld the wind too – I think any good fencer must accomodate wind! lol!
    Happy ABC Wednesday Rog.
    Denise ABC Team

  2. I have a couple of VHS tapes of the Disney series and the cobbled-together movies. I recollect reading that Guy Williams was rather nervous about horses, and created a minor scandal when he refused to ride one in a parade while dressed as Zorro, insisting on an open limousine instead.

  3. A series from my childhood, I remember the local toy shop used to sell swords with a chalk on the end to write that Z. I don’t think that seemed as satisfactory as an actual sword as I don’t remember any of my playmates having one, but it didn’t stop that raincoat as cape and imaginary swords being worn.

  4. Oh, I remember Zorro in the 50s. He was SO handsome, and this is a fabulous photo of him. Strange now to think he was born the same year as my parents.
    Armand Joseph Catalano is much nicer than his stage name, don’t you think?
    K

  5. Oh my goodness, Roger….you hit a memory. I was in highschool, and we had just got a TV….”Thanks for the memories….”

    I’ve got so much on my plate…I’ve been debating whether to get involved in Round 10, but got up very early this morning, visiting everyone to get some inspiration…I really do enjoy ABC..but have been so busy caring for our Aunt that I’ve not been the faithful commenter I used to be… I will try to hang in there.

    Wanda from Brushstrokes

  6. Hello Roger.
    I remember watching Guy Williams as Zorro when I was much younger.
    I like Sir Anthony Hopkins & Antonio Banderas as Zorro too.
    Nice choice to end out Rd9.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Thanks for the comment too. I originally went with “ZEAL” as you thought, but I couldn’t get my poem to flow so I had to expand it to “ZEALOUS” & the rest is history. Appreciate the visit.
    See you in Rd10!

    Zealous For Your Love

  7. what a great post Roger – i loved Guy Williams in Lost in Space, and i had seen this version of Zorro but forgotten until you reminded me of it

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