Copyright © 1998-2009 by Bill Cotter
All Rights Reserved


After two successful seasons on the air, Zorro was surprisingly taken off the ABC schedule. This brief excerpt from "The Wonderful World of Disney Television" explains how this came about:

On July 2, 1959, Disney filed a lawsuit against ABC, asking the court to invalidate the contracts between the two companies under provisions of the federal anti-trust laws. Roy Disney summed up the Studio's position, saying that "Several weeks ago the ABC network advised us and announced publicly that they would not televise Zorro or The Mickey Mouse Club over their network next season, and at the same time they told us we could not offer these programs to any other television outlet. Subsequently, they have interfered with our attempts to offer these programs to any other networks or independent television station. Although we do not dispute ABC's right to discontinue these, or any other, programs on their own network, we will certainly fight ABC's maneuvers to suppress these programs from public exhibition over other television stations."

Donn Tatum described Roy as being incensed at ABC's actions. Visibly angered, Roy told Disney staffers he felt it was a breach of faith.

In the 1959 Annual Report, the Studio claimed that ABC had asked for "terms which were totally unacceptable" for airing The Mickey Mouse Club and Zorro. The Studio noted that they rejected ABC's offer, and the network responded by claiming that they had exclusive rights to the Studio's television product, thereby blocking any possible sales to CBS or NBC. Disney filed suit against ABC on July 2, 1959, asking for ownership of the shows to be decided and for damages from ABC. Disney's suit formally asserted "that the network has illegally attempted to prevent two Walt Disney television programs, Zorro and Mickey Mouse Club, from being televised next year." Despite this breach between the two partners, Disney and ABC did agree to a separate contract for Walt Disney Presents, thereby keeping the anthology series on the air.

The result of these legal battles was four hour-long episodes of Zorro which were aired on the weekly anthology series. Each of these episodes is described below:


Airdates: 10/30/60, 8/06/61.

Cast: Guy Williams (Zorro and Don Diego), Gilbert Roland (El Cuchillo), Henry Calvin (Sergeant Garcia), Gene Sheldon (Bernardo), Rita Moreno (Chulita), Rudolph Acosta (Carancho), Rudolpho Hoyos (Bandit), Vito Scotti (Chaco), Bern Hoffman (Trampa), George J. Lewis (Don Alejandro).

Directed by: William Witney. Teleplay by: Bob Wehling. Based on the Zorro stories by: Johnston McCulley. Produced by: Bill Anderson. Associate Producer: Louis Debney. Director of Photography: Lucien Ballard, A.S.C. Art Director: Marvin Aubrey Davis. Film Editor: Basil Wrangell. Music: William Lava. Matte Artist: Peter Ellenshaw. Sound: Robert O. Cook. Set Decoration: Emile Kuri, William L. Stevens. Costumer: Chuck Keehne. Make-up: Pat McNalley. Hair Stylist: Ruth Sandifer. Fencing Master: Fred Cavens. Unit Manager: Roy Wade. Assistant Director: Vincent McEveety.

A group of Mexican bandits led by El Cuchillo ("The Knife") flees into Southern California to escape a band of pursuing soldiers. They decide to try their luck in Los Angeles despite the reputation of Zorro. As luck would have it, the local rancheros are storing a large supply of hides in a new warehouse and a silver shipment is ready to leave, providing the bandits with ample temptation.

When the outlaws arrive in town, El Cuchillo invites everyone to the tavern for free drinks, causing Diego to become suspicious of the new arrivals. He follows them inside where he hears Sergeant Garcia mention the silver shipment, a slip which draws the bandits' attention. Dressed as Zorro, Diego rides at night to guard the silver.

El Cuchillo's men have seized Garcia and the other lancers guarding the silver, and Zorro must free them before heading after the bandits. He narrowly escapes a trap, and adds insult to injury by slashing a large "Z" on El Cuchillo's coat as he warns the bandit to return to Mexico. The two men begin to fight, but the sound of Garcia's men approaching ends the fight for the moment.

Garcia refuses to believe Diego's claim that El Cuchillo is the bandit leader, and he continues to err by mentioning a cache of valuable hides. The bandits strike again, robbing the innkeeper, and once again Zorro rides. Another "Z" is cut into El Cuchillo's coat, and another warning is given. As Zorro rides away, one of the bandits tries to shoot him, but El Cuchillo surprisingly stops him. Evidently he has his own code of honor, for he explains "El Cuchillo does not shoot a man in the back".

Production Note:

  • This story is concluded in the episode Adios El Cuchillo.

Airdates: 11/06/60, 8/13/61.

Cast: Guy Williams (Zorro and Don Diego), Gilbert Roland (El Cuchillo), Henry Calvin (Sergeant Garcia), Gene Sheldon (Bernardo), Rita Moreno (Chulita), Rudolph Acosta (Carancho), Rudolpho Hoyos (Bandit), Vito Scotti (Chaco), Bern Hoffman (Trampa), George J. Lewis (Don Alejandro).

Directed by: William Witney. Teleplay by: Bob Wehling. Based on the Zorro stories by: Johnston McCulley. Produced by: Bill Anderson. Associate Producer: Louis Debney. Director of Photography: Lucien Ballard, A.S.C. Art Director: Marvin Aubrey Davis. Film Editor: Basil Wrangell. Music: William Lava. Matte Artist: Peter Ellenshaw. Sound: Robert O. Cook. Set Decoration: Emile Kuri, William L. Stevens. Costumer: Chuck Keehne. Make-up: Pat McNalley. Hair Stylist: Ruth Sandifer. Fencing Master: Fred Cavens. Unit Manager: Roy Wade. Assistant Director: Vincent McEveety.

This is a continuation of the Zorro adventure begun in the episode El Bandido. Having previously suffered a setback and humiliation at the hands of Zorro (Don Diego), El Cuchillo leads his men back into Los Angeles where they begin to plunder the pueblo. One item of importance for the bandit leader is to have the embarrassing "Z" removed from his coat, a process observed by the waiting Zorro. Satisfied that the leader can be dealt with later, Zorro turns his attention to the gang members, and to preventing them from successfully accomplishing any of their raids. Once done with his more important labors, Zorro playfully returns to the tailor shop where Cuchillo is just leaving - and leaves his mark on the newly repaired coat. Unfortunately for Zorro, his little prank may have been a serious mistake, because Cuchillo now becomes extremely anxious to win this series of battles.

The next day, Don Diego joins the bandit in the tavern, where Cuchillo sketches his portrait. Bernardo is horrified to see that Cuchillo has added a mask and hat to Diego's face, and the faithful servant destroys the sketch before the approaching Sergeant Garcia can note the resemblance to Zorro. A fight ensues, forcing Diego into combat to protect Bernardo. Cuchillo has noted Diego's surprising skill, and his suspicions as to Zorro's identity are all but confirmed.

Later, Cuchillo attempts to rob the innkeeper. Garcia and his men race out, leaving the cuartel almost unguarded. This was Cuchillo's true plan, for now he tries to free three of his men who are imprisoned there. Zorro arrives in time to stop him, but the noise of their battle alerts the remaining guards, and the outlaws flee.

Undaunted, the bandits unexpectedly seize control of the de la Vega home, and hold the family for ransom for the $20,000 Cuchillo knows is to arrive. When they hear that the money has been delivered, the bandits depart for Los Angeles, leaving a single guard to watch over the hostages. Bernardo's quick thinking enables Diego to imprison the guard, and Zorro soon races to the pueblo.

The bandits have captured the wagon with the money, but it's soon recovered by Zorro. Furious, Cuchillo duels with Zorro, cutting him on the cheek. Zorro wins the battle, and the outlaws are captured by Garcia. The Sergeant decides to transport Cuchillo to Mexico personally and stops to say goodbye to Diego. When Cuchillo mentions the cut on his face, Diego tries to explain it as from a rose thorn, but he knows Cuchillo has discovered his secret. Surprisingly, the bandit doesn't reveal the secret, once again respecting his strange code of honor between outlaws.

Chulita, the barmaid, helps Cuchillo escape from Garcia, but the pair is quickly captured by Zorro. He leads them to a priest, explaining that "a married man does not have time to be a bandido". The unspoken debt between the outlaws has been settled in full.
 


Airdates: 1/01/61, 8/20/61.

Cast: Guy Williams (Zorro and Don Diego), Annette Funicello (Constancia de la Torre), Henry Calvin (Sergeant Garcia), Gene Sheldon (Bernardo), Mark Damon (Miguel Serrano), Carlos Romero (Ansar), George J. Lewis (Don Alejandro).

Directed by: James Neilson. Teleplay by: Bob Wehling, Roy Edward Disney. Based on the Zorro stories by: Johnston McCulley. Produced by: Bill Anderson. Associate Producer: Ron Miller. Director of Photography: Walter H. Castle, A.S.C. Art Director: Marvin Aubrey Davis. Film Editor: Robert Stafford. Music: Buddy Baker. Songs: Richard M. Sherman, Robert B. Sherman. Set Decoration: Emile Kuri. Costumer: Chuck Keehne. Make-up: Pat McNalley. Hair Stylist: Ruth Sandifer. Fencing Master: Fred Cavens. Unit Manager: Roy Wade. Assistant Director: Joseph L. McEveety.

The third hour-long episode of Zorro begins as Don Diego and Bernardo greet Constancia de la Torre, who has returned to the pueblo after a lengthy absence. When they last saw her she was a little girl, but she's now a beautiful seventeen-year old. Constancia is glad to see them and Sergeant Garcia, but she becomes nervous when the sergeant wants to inspect her luggage. She stalls him, but Bernardo knows something's wrong when he can barely lift a small bag.

Feigning fatigue, Constancia asks to rest at the inn, where she introduces Miguel Serrano as an old friend who happens to be in town. In reality, he has come to meet her, for the two plan to elope. Diego realizes this when he sees that the mysterious bag is full of jewelry, to be used as Constancia's dowry. He decides to delay the wedding long enough for her to think it over.

When Miguel tries to climb to Constancia's room, Zorro intervenes, making the girl think she's been stood up. The next day Miguel tells her about Zorro but claims the masked man also robbed him, so he insists she bring the jewels to a boat the following day. Diego overhears the story and knows it's a lie, but he is later tied up by Ansar, an accomplice of Miguel's. Sergeant Garcia is also taken prisoner, and Miguel and Ansar leave to meet Constancia.

Diego slips out of his bonds and rides as Zorro to the ship. Constancia has just found that Miguel plans to leave her alone on the ship when it sails, keeping the jewels for himself. Zorro captures Miguel with the girl's help and Constancia returns home having learned a valuable, and inexpensive, lesson.

Production Notes:

  • The "ship" that Zorro battles Miguel on was actually a $25,000 set built on a Disney soundstage. It was also used in the Swamp Fox episode A Woman's Courage.
  • Annette sings the songs Como Esta Usted? and Amo Que Paso?, both of which were written for this episode by the Sherman brothers.

 

Here is the promo for "The Postponed Wedding" which originally aired on December 25, 1960:


wedding.jpg (10370 bytes)

Vivacious young Annette Funicello doesn't seem convinced of Mark Damon's sincerity.


Airdates: 4/02/61, 8/27/61.

Cast: Guy Williams (Zorro and Don Diego), Henry Calvin (Sergeant Garcia), Gene Sheldon (Bernardo), Suzanne Lloyd (Isabella Linares), Ricardo Montalban (Ramon Castillo), Ross Martin (Marcos Estrada), George J. Lewis (Don Alejandro).

Directed by: James Neilson. Teleplay by: Bob Wehling. Based on the Zorro stories by: Johnston McCulley. Produced by: Bill Anderson. Associate Producer: Louis Debney. Director of Photography: Edward Colman, A.S.C. Art Director: Marvin Aubrey Davis. Film Editor: Robert Stafford. Music: Buddy Baker. Song: Richard M. Sherman, Robert B. Sherman. Sound: Robert O. Cook. Set Decoration: Emile Kuri. Costumer: Chuck Keehne. Make-up: Pat McNalley. Hair Stylist: Ruth Sandifer. Assistant Director: Joseph L. McEveety.

It's a time for celebration as Sergeant Garcia leads his men in singing Pay Day in the Army. As the festivities end, Garcia notices two strangers in town, Ramon and Marcos. His attempt to question them leads instead to his telling them all the details of the payroll that is due to arrive that evening.

Diego's father and Bernardo ride into town, where the servant recognizes Ramon as an enemy of Diego's from his stay in Spain. Not realizing that Ramon knows of Diego's ability with the sword, and could thereby expose Diego as Zorro, his father invites the newcomers to the hacienda.

Diego and Bernardo resist several attempts by Ramon to force a duel, and the bandit soon leaves to steal the payroll. The two bandits force Garcia to turn over the money, only to be met by Zorro. The bandits are overpowered, but Ramon has recognized Zorro's fencing style and is sure that he is actually Diego.

Ramon tries to convince Garcia to trap Zorro, but the sergeant asks for Diego's advice, not believing Ramon's claim that he is the masked man. Diego tricks Garcia into locking him up, and Bernardo frees him to act as Zorro. Traveling to the tavern where the bandits are waiting, Zorro defeats Marcos and turns to battle with Ramon. After beating the villain in a duel, Zorro reveals himself as Diego, knowing no one would believe a criminal - especially when Bernardo re-imprisons him, so he can be set free by Garcia. The trick works, and the payroll - as well as Diego's secret - is safe.
 


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