Zorro (1957 TV series)

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For other uses, see Zorro (disambiguation).
Zorro
Zorroandbernardo.jpg
Zorro (Guy Williams) and Bernardo (Gene Sheldon)
Genre Action/Adventure
Comedy-drama
Western
Created by Johnston McCulley (original stories)
Starring Guy Williams[1]
Gene Sheldon
Henry Calvin
George J. Lewis
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 78 (+4 specials) (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Bill Anderson
Walt Disney
Running time 22–24 minutes
Production company(s) Walt Disney Productions
Distributor Disney-ABC Domestic Television
Broadcast
Original channel ABC
Picture format Black-and-white (also colorized)
Audio format Monaural
Original run October 10, 1957 (1957-10-10) – July 2, 1959 (1959-07-02)
Chronology
Related shows Zorro and Son
External links
Website

Zorro is an American action-adventure western drama series produced by Walt Disney Productions. Based on the well-known Zorro character, the series premiered on October 10, 1957 on ABC. The final network broadcast was July 2, 1959. Seventy-eight episodes were produced, and 4 hour-long specials were aired on the Walt Disney anthology series between October 30, 1960 and April 2, 1961.

Major characters[edit]

  • Don Diego de la Vega (portrayed by Guy Williams) is depicted as a former University student, newly recalled by his father from Spain to his home outside El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora Reina de los Ángeles sobre El Rio Porciuncula (later shortened as Los Angeles). Just before reaching California, Diego learns of the tyranny of Captain Monastario, and realizes that his father, Don Alejandro, summoned him to help fight this injustice. Although he won medals for his fencing back in Spain, Diego decides that his best course of action is to conceal his ability with a sword, and to affect the demeanor of a milquetoast intellectual rather than a decisive man of action. His alter ego, Zorro operates primarily at night, taking the direct action that Diego cannot. This deception does not always sit well with Diego, especially as it affects his relationship with his disappointed father. In reality, Diego relies heavily on his wits, both with and without the mask on. Later in the series, Diego emerges as a respected figure in his own right, a clever thinker and loyal friend who just happens to be hopeless at swordplay. The character's name in Johnston McCulley's writing and previous adaptations was Diego Vega; the Disney version expands the name to Diego de la Vega, an innovation retained in some subsequent versions of the story. Diego's singing voice is supplied by Bill Lee of the Mellomen. Actor Jeffrey Stone was initially offered the part of Don Diego de la Vega, but he turned down the role.[2]
  • Don Alejandro de la Vega (portrayed by George J. Lewis) is a hot-tempered cattle baron (or ranchero) with a strong sense of morality and fair play. His cattle and land holdings are said to be among the richest in California, which helps to make Don Alejandro an influential community leader. His impetuous nature often gets him into trouble, however, as he seeks to do battle himself, sometimes getting fooled and manipulated along the way. Don Alejandro eventually learns of his son's identity, and is strongly in favor of Zorro's work continuing.
  • Bernardo (portrayed by pantomimist Gene Sheldon) is Diego's manservant, confidant and co-conspirator, the only person at first to know Diego's secret. Unable to speak, Bernardo uses sign language to communicate. He pretends to be deaf as well as mute, the better to overhear the plans of Zorro's enemies. He also plays the fool, adopting clownish behavior so as to seem harmless. Although Bernardo is sometimes portrayed as a little silly even when no pretense is required, he is also a capable and invaluable disciple for Zorro and Diego, even wearing the mask himself occasionally when the need arises. The character had appeared in the original stories as both deaf and mute; giving him hearing in this iteration helped to make Bernardo more integral to the series as Zorro's secret agent. It also helped to advance the plot by giving Diego a partner with whom he could confide feelings, plans, and intended actions, while also communicating these things to the viewers.
Henry Calvin as Sergeant García, with Gene Sheldon as Bernardo in the background
  • Sergeant Demetrio López García[3] (portrayed by Henry Calvin) is fat, superstitious and overfond of drink, but also kind-hearted, brave and loyal. Sergeant García believes that he must obey orders from his commanding officers, however cruel or unjust they may be. He tries to soften the blow with his friendly manner, often saying "Please?" as he issues an unpalatable order to a civilian. Although García seldom departs from his sworn duty, he develops considerable respect for Zorro and later in the series is openly glad when Zorro escapes capture. Nevertheless, García dreams of catching Zorro himself to collect the reward money, a dream that Diego encourages from time to time. He also has an excellent singing voice, and performs a number of songs over the course of the series, usually with mug in hand. García replaces McCulley's Sergeant Gonzales from the original stories, played by Noah Beery, Sr. as a hardcore villain in the 1920 film version.

Other recurring cast[edit]

  • Don Diamond as Corporal Reyes (Magistrado storyline and onward) — The second non-commissioned officer alongside Sergeant García, introduced midway through Season 1.
  • Britt Lomond as Captain Enrique Sánchez Monasterio (season 1) — The evil but dashing Commandante was Zorro's first continuing foe, both on screen and at Disneyland (see "Other appearances" below).
  • Than Wyenn as Licenciado Piña (season 1) — Monasterio's adjutant and lawyer.
  • Jan Arvan as Don Ignacio Torres (season 1) — A local don who is arrested by Monasterio for speaking out. Often known as 'Don Nacho'.
  • Romney Brent as Padre Felipe (season 1) - A priest at the Mission of San Gabriel and a friend to Diego. He provides Church sanctuary to Torres before he escapes to Monterey.
  • Henry Rowland as Count Kolinko (season 1) — Juan Greco and José Sebastián Vargas's conspirator.
  • Vinton Hayworth as Magistrate Carlos Galindo (season 1) — The local leader of a conspiracy to take over California.
  • Jay Novello as Juan Greco (season 1) — José Sebastián Vargas's conspirator.
  • Charles Korvin as José Sebastián Vargas (season 1) — The man Galindo was working for, self-styled "the Eagle".
  • Steve Stevens as Don Rodolfo (season 1) — One of the local dons, who vacillates on his commitment to help defend Los Angeles from the conspirators.
  • Jolene Brand as Ana María Verduzco (season 2) — A love interest for Diego and Zorro, based in Monterey.
  • Eduard Franz as Señor Gregorio Verduzco (season 2) — Ana Maria's father, leader of a group trying to finance bringing a supply ship to California.
  • Richard Anderson as Ricardo del Amo (season 2) — Diego's old friend and rival who is also courting Ana Maria.
  • Cesar Romero as Esteban de la Cruz (season 2) — Diego's uncle, an aging gigolo with a dishonest streak and a propensity for trouble.
  • Rodolfo Hoyos, Jr., as Vivera in "El Bandido" and "Adios, El Cuchillo" (season 2) and as Montez in "Finders Keepers" (season 1)
  • Annette Funicello as Anita Campillo (season 2) — A young woman who comes to Los Angeles to see her father, except that nobody has ever heard of him; Funicello was given the role as a birthday present from Walt Disney himself since he was the only one who knew about her big crush on Guy Williams. Though, Guy was married to Janice Cooper. Funicello was also on the 1-hour episode The Postponed Wedding where she played Constancia de la Torre, a girl who is scheduled to be married.
  • Everett Sloane as Andrés Felipe Basilio (season 2) — Another of Zorro's foes, a greedy official who gathers treasure for Spain but seeks to keep it for himself.
  • John Litel as Governor of California (season 2) — Honest but petulant, the governor is the subject of two conspiracies against him, and Diego's house guest at the time.
  • Rodolfo Acosta as Perico Verdugo (season 1) - A prospector confederate with the Magistrate to investigate if indeed there is gold in California.
  • Eugenia Paul as Elena Torres[4]

Plot summary[edit]

For most of its brief run, Zorro's episodes were part of continuing story arcs, each about thirteen episodes long, which made it almost like a serial. The first of these chronicles the arrival of Zorro / Diego and his battle of wits with the greedy and cruel local Commandante, Captain Enrique Sánchez Monastario. After Monastario's final defeat, in the second storyline, Zorro must uncover and counter the machinations of the evil Magistrado Carlos Galindo, who is part of a plot to rule California. The third story arc concerns the leader of that conspiracy, the shadowy figure of "The Eagle", revealed as vain and insecure José Sebastián Vargas. It's revealed that the plot to gain control of California is so that he can turn it over to another country, implied to be Germany, for a huge profit. Season one concludes with Varga's death.

Season two opens with Diego in Monterey, the colonial capital, where privately collected money to bring a supply ship to California is consistently diverted to a gang of bandits. Diego stays to investigate, both as himself and as Zorro, and becomes interested in Ana Maria Verdugo, the daughter of the man organizing the effort. Once Zorro defeats the thieves, he enters into a rivalry with his old friend Ricardo del Amo, a practical joker who is also interested in Ana Maria. Ana Maria in turn is in love with Zorro. While in Monterey, Zorro and Sergeant Demetrio López García also get involved in a dispute between the peons and a repressive Lieutenant Governor. Diego is on the verge of giving up his mask to marry Ana Maria, but Don Alejandro talks him out of it. Zorro (and Diego) says goodbye to Ana Maria and returns to Los Angeles, where he gets involved in a series of shorter adventures. In one three episode story arc, guest starring Annette Funicello, Zorro must solve the mystery of Anita Cabrillo's father, a man who does not seem to exist. Other storylines late in the series involve Diego's never-do-well uncle (Cesar Romero), a plot against the governor of California, an encounter with an American "mountain man" (Jeff York, reprising a role from The Saga of Andy Burnett), and outwitting a greedy emissary from Spain.

Episodes[edit]

Other appearances[edit]

Guy Williams was introduced to the Disney audience as Zorro in a segment of the Disney anthology television series, "The Fourth Anniversary Show".[5] During this episode, which starred the Mouseketeers and featured upcoming shows, Moochie (Kevin Corcoran) repeatedly asks Walt Disney, "What about Zorro?" Finally Zorro appears, but not in the same shot with the Mouseketeers. Zorro explains who he is, and coyly answers the question of whether he's "real."

Williams and other key cast members also made a number of live appearances at Disneyland in 1958. Some of their shows involved Zorro and Monastario battling each other on the rooftops of Frontierland.[6]

Another Mousketeer, Robert L. Crawford, Jr., prior to being cast on NBC's Laramie in the role of Andy Sherman, appeared on Zorro in the role of Pogo Bastinado in the episodes "The Well of Death" and "The Cross of the Andes" in May 1958.

George J. Lewis, who portrayed Diego's father Don Alejandro, had previously appeared in the 1944 serial Zorro's Black Whip as Vic Gordon, an ally of the Black Whip.

Broadcast history[edit]

The show was very popular, especially with children, and its theme song (written by Norman Foster and George Bruns and first recorded by the Mellomen) was a hit recording for The Chordettes, peaking at #17 on the Hit Parade. It also created a problem with "Z" graffitiing on school desks and walls across the United States.[6]

Despite good ratings, the series ended after two seasons due to a financial dispute between Disney and the network over ownership of Zorro, Mickey Mouse Club, and the Disney anthology television series (at the time titled Disneyland). During the legal battle, however, Disney kept the franchise going for a few years in the form of four new hour-long Zorro adventures aired on the anthology series: Zorro: El Bandido (30 October 1960); Zorro: Adios El Cuchillo (6 November 1960); Zorro: The Postponed Wedding (1 January 1961); and Zorro: Auld Acquaintance (2 April 1961). Guy Williams was kept on full salary during this period, but by the time Disney and ABC resolved their differences, Walt Disney decided that public interest in the character had flagged. Nevertheless, Disney continued to pay $3,500 per year for the television rights until 1967.[6]

Reruns of the series aired on The Disney Channel starting on the day the channel launched on April 18, 1983,[7] and continued until September 16, 2002.

The 1957-1959 episodes were colorized in 1992, and appeared in that format for a time on The Disney Channel and elsewhere, often alternating with the original black-and-white versions. It aired for ten years.

Revivals[edit]

In 1983 a comedy follow-up, Zorro and Son, aired on CBS. The series was shot in color on many of the same studio lots where the original was filmed. Featuring none of the original cast (Guy Williams walked out after a script dispute), the show performed poorly in the ratings.

Media[edit]

VHS[edit]

Several compilations from the series were issued on VHS over the years, but are now out of print. They are as follows:

Theatrical films compiled from episodes

  • The Sign of Zorro (overseas, 1958, U.S. 1960; Monastario storyline)
  • Zorro the Avenger (overseas, 1959; based on the end of the Eagle storyline)

VHS television episodes

DVD releases[edit]

Two volumes from season one of Zorro were released on DVD in the United States in 2006, representing the entire Monastario storyline and the beginning of Magistrado Galindo storyline. Three more volumes soon followed, completing the season, which was then reissued as a boxed set entitled Zorro, the Complete First Season. All of the above DVDs are only available from the Disney Movie Club. Each volume contains the 1992 colorized version of about eight episodes. No special features are included. The Disney Movie Rewards program offers a Complete 1st Season set for 2,200 points.

Recently, the Disney Movie Club released the second season, also consisting of five volumes.

International Releases[edit]

The following international regions are available:[8]

  • Zorro, Saison 1 (French box set, original English language available) ASIN B0000VKLP8
  • Zorro, Seizoen 1 (Dutch box set) EAN 8717418063412
  • Zorro, Saison 2 (French box set, original English language available) ASIN B001927NGW
  • Zorro, La Prima Serie Completa (Italian box set, English language available) ASIN B0047RUSM2

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment released the entire series on DVD in Region 1 on November 3, 2009 under their Walt Disney Treasures banner featuring several bonus features.[9] however like many other Disney releases it was available for a limited time, before entering moratorium and put back in the Disney Vault along with the other Walt Disney Treasures DVD sets. currently the two seasons (region 1 format) are expensive, with higher sale prices, costing over $100–$150.

DVD Name Ep # Release date
Season 1 39 November 3, 2009
Season 2 39 November 3, 2009

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Masked Zorro Returns Friday to Make His Mark on Cable TV". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-06. 
  2. ^ "Jeffrey Stone, 85, was model for Prince Charming". Big Cartoon Forum Asia Unbound. 2012-08-24. Retrieved 2012-09-21. 
  3. ^ In English it's correct to have a surname as middle name, but in this case, a Spanish character, the addition of the surname López would mean he should be called Sergeant López, not Sergeant García.
  4. ^ Dore, Shalini (2010-06-01). "Dancer-thesp Strauss dies, 'Mask of Zorro' star was 75". Variety Magazine. Retrieved 2010-06-11. 
  5. ^ Disneyland: The Fourth Anniversary Show at the Internet Movie Database
  6. ^ a b c Cotter, Bill (1998–2004). "Zorro - A History of the Series". Walt Disney's Zorro tribute site. Retrieved 25 August 2006. 
  7. ^ The Disney Channel Magazine, April/May 1983 (Premiere Issue), pp. 8, 14.
  8. ^ Cotter, Bill (2004–2005). "Zorro on DVD". Walt Disney's Zorro tribute site. Retrieved 25 August 2006. 
  9. ^ http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/news/Zorro-Seasons-1-and-2/11858

External links[edit]