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A Brief Zorro History

Zorro was created in 1919 by the writer Johnston McCulley, for his serialized novel The Curse of Capistrano. This story was the first of sixty-five immensely popular tales in which the romantic hero fought injustice in the pueblo of Los Angeles.

Douglas Fairbanks created a sensation in 1920 with his film The Mark of Zorro, an adaptation of The Curse of the Capistrano, which today remains as one of the great classics of the silent era.

Two decades later, Tyrone Power and Basil Rathbone starred in a successful sound remake of The Mark of Zorro.

Zorro Republic SerialZorro also appeared in 1937 in Republic's first color film, The Bold Caballero. Zorro was a character born for serial treatment, and Republic wasted no time in making the twelve chapter film serial Zorro Rides Again, which was followed by eight more Zorro serials over the next five years.

In 1957, Walt Disney introduced the Zorro television series, starring Guy Williams. The series, which had the highest budget of any Western to date, was meticulously produced and was one of the most popular shows of the Golden Age of Hollywood. This sparked a merchandising mania at the time, as is well known to toy and comic collectors of today.

During the 1960's and 1970's, numerous Zorro movies were made in Europe. The most notable was Zorro, starring Alain Delon as the masked hero in a French-Italian co-production, followed by yet another remake of The Mark of Zorro in 1974, starring Frank Langella as Zorro for U. S. television.

In the 1980's, Zorro continued to create new generations of fans with the animated series The New Adventures of Zorro, which aired on CBS Saturday mornings from 1981-1983. In 1981, George Hamilton starred in the feature film, Zorro, the Gay Blade. Disney produced the 1982 television series Zorro and Son for CBS. Both The Gay Blade and Zorro and Son spoofed the character.

Zorro entered the 1990's stronger than ever. Eighty-eight episodes of a new live action TV series, co-produced by New World Television (U.S.), Ellipse (France), and RAI (Italy), premiered in the very first week of the decade and has since aired in over 50 countries around the world. Fifty-two episodes of lower budget animated series were released through Mondo TV of Italy in 1992.

In the same year, Disney hopped on the Zorro bandwagon by using state-of-the-art computer techniques to colorize all 78 episodes of its classic Zorro series. It now plays in the United States on the Disney Channel and in many countries around the world.

In February of 1995, a musical stage version of Zorro by Ken Hill opened in London to rave reviews. New stage productions are in development. A comprehensive hour long history of Zorro was produced by the Arts & Entertainment Biography series. The show premiered on June 25, 1996 and will be shown repeatedly through 1998.

The biggest media attraction of the 1990's is the long anticipated release of The Mask of Zorro. TriStar Pictures and Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment have assembled an impressive production team. Martin Campbell, of the Bond film, Golden Eye, directed Antonio Banderas, star of Evita, as the new masked hero of Spanish California. Banderas inherits the mantle of Zorro from Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins. The film began shooting on January 27, 1996 in Mexico and ended on June 16, 1997. The targeted U.S. release date is March 1998. A new animated series from Fred Wolf Films, Warner Bros. International Television, Harvest Entertainment, Carrington Productions International LTD and Zorro Productions, Inc. premieres in Fall 1997. Playmates, the master toy license, debuts a unique Zorro toy line in early 1998.

Why has there been and why is there still so much interest in Zorro? Zorro stands out as perhaps the most multi-dimensional character in the pantheon of heroes. He is simultaneously wise, brave, charming, cunning, and very, very romantic. Zorro has true cross-generational appeal, with four generations around the world having grown up with the character. Zorro has had true staying power because he has always been successfully reinterpreted within the spirit of the times.

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