Copyright © 1998-2009 by Bill Cotter
All Rights Reserved
After the syndicated run of Zorro left
the air in 1967, Disney lost interest in the caped adventurer. The Studio decided not to
exercise its option to renew the contract for Zorro and the rights reverted to the
Gertz estate that year.
Even though Disney had given
up on Zorro, others had not lost interest and numerous Zorro movies were produced in the
following years. Many of these were filmed overseas, such as the popular 1974 French
production of Zorro with Alain Delon in the title role. The same year also saw The
Mark of Zorro, a made-for-television movie starring Frank Langella, which marked
Zorro's return to the American market. Several years later, in 1980, Zorro, The Gay
Blade provided a decidedly different twist to the tale, with George Hamilton as a
homosexual Don Diego. Zorro even made it to Saturday morning in The New Adventures of
Zorro, an animated series that ran 13 episodes in 1981.
This continued interest was not lost on Disney, for the
Studio kept getting requests to bring its Zorro series back. Unfortunately, Zorro
was one of the few television projects Walt had decided not to film in color, and company
executives felt that modern audiences would not watch a black-and-white series.
The most obvious solution was to make new episodes, but by
the 1982-83 season, there were no half-hour drama series on the air anymore. Sitcoms were
the current rage, and with this in mind, CBS told Disney they would only be interested in
new Zorro episodes if the series was switched to a comedy format.
Anxious to get a series on the air, Disney agreed to
produce Zorro and Son, a sitcom, as another limited series. The premise was that
twenty-five years had passed since the last Zorro episode, and the masked avenger
has had to slow down as age takes its toll. When a new commandante begins a reign of
terror, Don Diego realizes he can no longer fight as well as he used to. The solution is
to have his son, Don Carlos, take his place, but the two men haven't spoken since an
argument several years earlier. Luckily, Bernardo, as loyal as ever, manages to get them
talking again. Don Carlos agrees to assume the role of Zorro, with Don Diego as his
advisor, providing hints from the many lessons he learned when he had worn the mask.
Henry Darrow as
When work first began on Zorro and Son, there was
talk that Guy Williams would be returning again to play Don Diego. Some reports said that
Williams had actually signed for the role, but that when he saw the scripts, he didn't
like what the writers had done with "his" character and he quit before filming
began. Instead, Don Diego was played by Henry Darrow, a popular character actor with a
long list of credits. Darrow had provided the voice of Zorro in the 1981 animated series,
making him one of a few actors who had played the part in different productions. Paul
Regina, a relative newcomer, was cast as Don Carlos, and it was to him that most of the
action scenes would fall. Bernardo was played by Bill Dana, who is best known for his
"Jose Jimenez" character. In this version, Bernardo no longer was a mute.
The move to a situation comedy meant that the role of
Sergeant Garcia was no longer needed for comedy relief, so the part was dropped. In
addition to Don Diego, Don Carlos and Bernardo, the continuing characters were:
- Capitan Paco Pico, the new commandante, who headed the
troops stationed in the Casa de Cops, home of the pueblo's military presence.
- Sergeant Sepulveda, Pico's second in command. For those
unfamiliar with Los Angeles, Pico and Sepulveda are major thoroughfares.
- Brothers Napa and Sonoma, a pair of dour twin monks. The two
monks were never seen together, making the part of twins noticeable only for the names,
which were based on California's wine growing region.
- Corporal Cassette, played by the fast-talking John
Moschitta, who had gained fame in numerous commercials for his very
rapid speech. Cassette's usual role was to
infiltrate a crowd and then quickly repeat all of the conversations he overheard verbatim
to the commandante.
Zorro and Son benefited from the fact that most of
the original exterior sets from Zorro were still standing on the Burbank lot.
Disney had also kept many of the original props and costumes in storage all these years,
which helped make the limited series look like a far more expensive production than it
The new series also established a link to the original
version in the opening titles. Black-and-white scenes from the old shows were mixed with
color clips from the new episodes, along with a new rendition of the theme song that
sounded almost identical to the original song. This time out, the theme was updated to
reflect the use of two Zorros, with lines such as "They make the sign of the
Unfortunately, the updated Zorro and Son failed to
catch on with viewers, attracting only 13% of the viewing audience each week. After the
five episodes were aired, the series quickly vanished from sight. Once again, Disney gave
up the rights to Zorro, and today, this series is all but forgotten.
There is one interesting footnote. In 1989, production
began on yet another version of Zorro, this time by New World Cinema. Henry Darrow was
signed to play Don Alejandro, making him the only actor to work in three different
versions of the story.
Each of the episodes is described below in airdate order.
The production credits follow the episode descriptions, with the writers and directors
listed with the individual episodes.
Airdate: 4/6/83. Guest Cast: Jack Kruschen (Commandante La
Brea), Catherine Parks (Seņorita Anita). Written by: Eric Cohen. Directed by: Peter
Twenty-five years after he first rode to avenge evil, Zorro
has begun to slow down, for his age is catching up to him. Unwilling to abandon his
crusade for justice, he has switched tactics and now tries to outwit his foes rather than
outfight them. However, when Brother Napa is arrested for selling wine before its time, is
unjustly jailed, Zorro again takes up his sword to duel with the pueblo's evil
commandante. The years have also taken their toll on his foe, Commandante La Brea, who
surprisingly decides to retire during their fight. His replacement is the younger Capitan
Paco Pico, who takes over the duel. Zorro barely escapes and it appears that his dashing
days are over for good.
Bernardo saves the day by summoning home Don Carlos, the
estranged son of Don Diego, and father and son discover a common bond - a hate of
injustice. Diego tells his son of his secret identity and begins to train him to take his
place as the masked rider. All too soon, Carlos is put to the test when he must free the
monk from a public flogging. The two Zorros unite to save the prisoner and begin a new
chapter in frontier adventures.
- Jack Kruschen had appeared as a villain in The Man with
the Whip and The Cross of the Andes episodes of the original Zorro
Airdate: 4/13/83. Guest Cast: Gina Gallego (Angelica), Vic
Dunlop (Rapido Roberto), Pete Leal (Peasant/Prisoner), Ernie Fuentes (Peasant), Rita
Rogers Aragon (Angelica's Mother). Written by: Eric Cohen, Nick Arnold. Directed by:
Commandante Pico's plan to capture Angelica, a suspected
gun runner, fails and the rebel reaches the monastery of Brother Napa. Don Carlos, who has
been entertaining the children there, rushes to her rescue when Pico follows her and tries
to take her back to town. Dressed as Zorro, Carlos takes her to his house, where he
promises she'll be safe.
Carlos later returns home out of costume and
"agrees" to honor Zorro's pledge, but Pico arrives shortly after and searches
the hacienda. The soldiers discover Angelica and the commandante threatens to torture her
mother unless the rebel helps capture Zorro.
Matters become complicated when Carlos tells his father he
is in love with Angelica and wants to reveal his secret. Later, when Diego learns that
Angelica is spying for Pico, he searches for his son, who is about to unmask in front of
her. Angelica stops Carlos and confesses that she is working for Pico, but the episode
ends happily when Zorro frees her mother.
Airdate: 4/20/83. Guest Cast: Pete Leal (Peasant), Don
Diamond (Passenger #1), Danny Mora (Passenger #2), Thomas Rosales (Gomez). Written by:
Eric Cohen, Nick Arnold. Directed by: Alan Myerson.
Commandante Pico tries a new tactic to end Zorro's
influence over the pueblo when he disguises himself in the characteristic black mask and
begins robbing the peons. Unaware of this plot, Don Diego is dismayed when the people
begin turning against him. When Bernardo discovers the reason, Diego decides to clear his
name and avenge this injustice.
Don Carlos has his own reason for revealing the real thief,
for he himself was accused of the crimes to pay off a gambling debt. He dresses as Zorro
and follows a stagecoach he suspects will be the fake Zorro's next target. Diego discovers
his son's absence and also rides as Zorro, meeting Carlos just as the stage arrives. The
two men are so busy arguing over who should be the one to catch the imposter that Pico has
time to rob the stage, again dressed as Zorro.
Diego decides to outwit the thief by enlisting the help of
Brother Sonoma, who supplies a valuable religious relic as bait for a trap. The plan works
and Pico tries to steal the treasure, only to be confronted by the real Zorro. A band of
soldiers interrupts the fight and seizes one of the masked men, who is unveiled as the
commandante. Zorro escapes once more, and the people learn the truth about their hero.
- This plot is similar to that of the episodes Double
Trouble For Zorro and Zorro, Luckiest Swordsman Alive from the original series.
Airdate: 4/27/83. Guest Cast: Catherine Parks (Seņorita
Anita), Pete Leal (Peasant). Written by: Eric Cohen, Nick Arnold. Directed by: Peter
An unusual problem develops for Zorro when Bernardo tries
to wash his costume, for a gust of wind blows the clothes into the picnic lunch of
Commandante Pico. The soldier arrests Bernardo and takes him to jail, hoping to prove that
Don Diego is the masked rider. He sends for Diego and accuses him, but when Diego is
forced to wear the costume, it has shrunk and no longer fits him. Pico tortures Bernardo
to learn Zorro's identity and the faithful servant confesses that he is the masked rider
in the hope of saving Diego.
The ruse seems to work and Diego is set free. He and Don
Carlos begin planning to rescue Bernardo, but without their costumes, they are unable to
ride as Zorro. They find an unexpected ally in Sergeant Sepulveda, who feels sorry for
Bernardo and has restored the garments to their original size. Before Sepulveda can tell
Bernardo where the clothes are, Pico takes the prisoner out to execute him. Diego and
Carlos search for the costume and discover it moments before the execution. Carlos rescues
Bernardo as Diego watches with Pico, thereby seemingly confirming that his father cannot
Airdate: 5/04/83. Guest Cast: Dick Gautier (El Excellente),
Catherine Parks (Seņorita Anita), H.B. Haggerty (Capitan Jorge Mendez), Ralph Manza
(Waiter), Michael Salcido (Prisoner). Written by: Eric Cohen, Nick Arnold. Directed by:
Commandante Pico receives unwelcome news that a life-long
rival, El Excellente, is due to arrive for an inspection of the pueblo. He is unaware that
Zorro will also be unhappy about the visit, for El Excellente is guarded by Capitan Jorge
Mendez, who hates the masked rider and has nearly captured him on several occasions. Diego
fears that Mendez, a cruel and harsh man known as the "Butcher of Barcelona",
will be named to run the pueblo.
Pico asks Diego for help in preventing El Excellente from
removing him from office, and Diego forces a return of tax money to the peons in return
for the favor. Don Carlos upsets the agreement by cutting a "Z" on El
Excellente's shirt as punishment for mistreating Brother Napa, and the visitor angrily
fires Pico. Just as Diego feared, Mendez is made the new commandante.
Diego talks El Excellente into reinstating Pico provided
the commandante can capture Zorro in 24 hours. Carlos agrees to impersonate Zorro and lose
a battle in front of El Excellente, but when the confrontation begins, Pico faces a masked
man claiming to be the real Zorro. Mendez leaps into the battle and is quickly defeated,
forced by Zorro into a well.
El Excellente decides to leave Pico in charge, and a
surprised commandante thanks Zorro for his help. The masked man tells him he only helped
because Mendez would have been even a worse ruler than Pico. Once again, Pico and Zorro
resume their rivalry.
Cast: Henry Darrow (Don Diego de la Vega/Zorro, Sr.), Paul
Regina (Don Carlos de la Vega/Zorro, Jr.), Bill Dana (Bernardo), Gregory Sierra (Capitan
Paco Pico), Richard Beauchamp (Sergeant Sepulveda), Barney Martin (Brothers Napa and
Sonoma), John Moschitta, Jr. (Corporal Cassette).
Developed for Television by: Eric Cohen. Executive
Producer: William Robert Yates. Produced by: Kevin Corcoran. Supervising Producer: Eric
Cohen. Director of Photography: Ron Vargas. Production Designer: John B. Mansbridge.
Editors: Gordon D. Brenner, A.C.E., Dennis A. Orcutt, Ernie Milano, A.C.E. Unit Production
Manager: Paul Wurtzel. First Assistant Directors: Doug Metzger, Ramiro Jaloma. Second
Assistant Director: James M. Freitag. Set Decorator: Norman Rockett. Special Effects:
Roland Tantin. Sound Supervisor: Bob Hathaway. Sound Mixer: Arthur Names. Creative
Consultant: Nancy Larson. Costume Supervisor: Jack Sandeen. Men's Costumer: Milton Mangum.
Women's Costumer: Karen Hytten. Make-up Supervisor: Robert J. Schiffer, C.M.A.A. Make-up:
Robin LaVigne. Hair Stylist: Edie Panda. Music by: George Duning. Casting: Bill Shepard,
A.S.C.D. Zorro and Son is produced with the cooperation of Gertz-Larson