Friday, April 25, 2008

Disney and more Time Machine : Remembering the ZORRO tv series and Guy Williams

Any french who was a child in the 60's and the 70's will tell you how hugely popular the Zorro TV series were in France at that time. A huge TV success, really, and everybody still remember the main title song!

And when i was a child, me, too, i LOVED him, he was my hero! Now that i look back at those happy days and try to understand why we all loved the series so much, i think that one of the reason was the casting. Frankly, the casting was perfect. Whether it was Guy Williams in the Don Diego de la Vega/Zorro character...

Gene Sheldon playing Bernardo, Don Diego servant...

Henry Calvin playing Sergent Garcia, or even the villains, all were perfectly cast. Add to this good scripts and good directors, and you have a great tv series. Of course we must never forget the innocence of that era, something partly lost, now.

The Walt Disney Productions TV series premiered October 10, 1957 on ABC and The final network broadcast was June 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. On this rare picture below, Walt is on the set, discussing with Guy Williams.

Walt himself introduced the first episode as he always did at that time with his tv series, and here is the video of this Zorro introduction.

The tv series were filmed in black and white, and the season 1 dvds in France were released with the orginal B&W. But Disney did a colorised version in the U.S, and below, here is the very first episode of Zorro, in a three part video, and in colour. Note that the director was Norman Foster, a good director who worked years before with Orson Welles.

Let's come back to Guy Williams - born Armand Joseph Catalano and former fashion model before he became actor. Not only he was full of charisma, but he had the most important: he was a perfect swashbuckler!

The Zorro series were a of course a hit in the U.S, and in the early days of Disneyland, if you were a child you could have the luck to sword fight with him in Frontierland!

The Zorro merchandise was incredibly successful during years and years - all the kids wanted the Zorro costume! Guy Williams himself did some promotional pictures as you can see below.

He also met the Musketeers as guest star in one of Walt's tv show.

After the phenomenal success of Zorro, Guy Williams played in another tv series: Lost in Space. During the casting, he did some screen tests, and you can watch them below in this rare video.

Guy Williams died April 30, 1989 of a brain aneurysm, but he now have his star on the Hollywood walk of fame, in California. And we still miss him.

Photos and videos : copyright Disney.


Anonymous said...

Nice work. Looking forward to your multi-part Animal Kingdom presentation.

ELMERC said...

Guy Williams, nice to see his face again, in more ways than one!!Good actor. Elaine Cooke

Anonymous said...

i just started watching Zorro this year after i got rid of my cable and got a converter box. as a kid i used to watch it in black n white. but i watch it every morning on COZI tv. guy williams was extremely handsome. and i swoon when i see him especially in his black as Zorro. i so miss guy williams. but i have him every morning at 11am.

Unknown said...

To be honest I've always wanted to watch zorro since I was six. But now my wish came true I watch zorro series every night in blank and white still i haven't finished it yet but guy played his role incredibly brilliant and he was so sweet and handsome unfortunately he died soon at the age of 65 still we will always remember what he's role was was as zorro I've learnt so much from him whenever I watch it makes me feel alive rather than watching today's series which most of them are stupid.