El Zorro is one of those series that we remember as a boy. The time and wear and tear of the repeated episodes does not tire the audience and therefore does not lose a bit of validity, perhaps simply because of the charismatic humor of its characters and the very good set of the California colonial era made by the Disney studios. Many times we look at the series started and we do not really know what it is about because Don Diego de la Vega disguises himself as a fox.
1- What is History about?
El Zorro is the story of a masked rider who fights against the unjust rulers of the people of Los Angeles during the days of Spanish rule. His true identity is that of Don Diego de la Vega, son of a rich landowner. Diego returns from his studies in Spain and discovers that Los Angeles is under the command of Captain Monasterio, a cruel man who enjoys the misuse of his power for his personal benefit. Knowing that he can not aspire to defeat, and without the help of the Monastery and his troops, Diego resorts to a subterfuge. The secret identity of Zorro is adopted, a sinister figure dressed in black and returns to fight against the injustice of Monastery.
2- Who created the fox?
This series was not the first made in Hollywood, in fact there were two feature films before. The Best and Famous **La marca del Zorro**, a silent 1920 film and a new version with the same title made in 1940 with great success.
3- But who created the fox then?
Well it was not Disney, it was actually a writer named Johnston McCulley who in 1919 published a book called “The Curse of Capistrano” where El Zorro appears for the first time in the eyes of the public. Then, feature films and other book publications by McCully popularized the character and Walt Disney became interested to create his version of the masked.
4- Walt is interested in El Zorro
In 1950, Johnston McCulley assigns film and television rights to Mitchell Gertz, a Hollywood agent. Gertz tried for several years, finding funding to produce a series of the masked hero, but to no avail.
However, it so happened that Walt Disney at that time was creating a new theme park in Los Angeles, Disneyland; and was interested in the legend of the fox to be able to include it in his park. His idea was to create a series of TV (in a peak at that time) so that with his profits he could finish his park or in the best of cases expand it. Therefore, he went on a campaign to get the rights of the character.
Finally, in 1957 Walt Disney had acquired the rights of Zorro and immediately reached an agreement with the ABC television network to air it once a week. Therefore, Walt Disney Productions began to work to put the series into operation.
5- Launch of the series and actors
Walt immediately went to work in the search for someone to play Fox. More than 20 actors were tested for the role, including Hugh O’Brian, John Lupton, Jack Kelly, Dennis Weaver, and David Janssen. On April 18, 1957, the studio conducted a camera test for a relatively unknown actor named Guy Williams. When Walt saw the results, he knew he had found his Fox.
6- The Horses
The El Zorro uses two different horses during the series. Well, actually several horses were used for different stunts and tricks, but all of them represented in two horses.
The main one, who did not even get his name in the credits, was the faithful horse of “El Zorro”, Tornado, a jet black horse. The real name of Tornado was Diamond decorator, of seven years of age, that had three substitutes to realize diverse acrobatics. One of the horses specialized in standing on two legs, like that iconic scene seen at the beginning of the series. Another was used in fight scenes, and a third in the scenes in which Tornado ran fast.
At the beginning of the second season, Diego visits the city of Monterrey and since it was never known where Tornado came from when Diego became “El Zorro”, the writers suddenly introduced a new horse. “Phantom” was white and belonged to a commander who then the masked man mounted to fight against evil. He never explained where he was hidden or what was his when Diego returns to Los Angeles.