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Zorro is an American action-adventure 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.
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.
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 gestures to communicate. Bernardo 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 spy. 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 (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.
Don Diamond as Corporal Reyes (Magistrado storyline and onward) — The second non-commissioned officer alongside Sergeant Garcia, introduced midway through Season 1.
Britt Lomond as Captain Enrique Sanchez Monastario (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 Pina (season 1) — Monastario’s adjutant and lawyer.
Jan Arvan as Don Ignacio Torres (season 1) — A local don who is arrested by Monastario 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 Monterrey.
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 Campo (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.
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 Torrie, 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
Created by Johnston McCulley (original stories)
Starring Guy Williams
George J. Lewis
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 78 (+4 specials) (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Bill Anderson
Running time 22–24 minutes
Production company(s) Walt Disney Productions
Distributor Disney-ABC Domestic Television
Original channel ABC
Picture format Black-and-white (also colorized)
Audio format Monaural
Original run October 10, 1957 – July 2, 1959
Wonderful Zorro Website http://www.zorrolegend.com/disneyzorro/disneyzorro.html
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