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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Zorro is a fictional character created in 1919 by New York-based pulp writer Johnston McCulley. The character has been featured in numerous books, films, television series, and other media.
Zorro (Spanish for fox) is the secret identity of Don Diego de la Vega (originally Don Diego Vega), a nobleman and master living in the Spanish colonial era of California. The character has undergone changes through the years, but the typical image of him is a dashing black-clad masked outlaw who defends the people of the land against tyrannical officials and other villains. Not only is he much too cunning and foxlike for the bumbling authorities to catch, but he delights in publicly humiliating those same foes.
Zorro (often called Señor or El Zorro in early stories) debuted in McCulley's 1919 story The Curse of Capistrano, serialized in five parts in the pulp magazine All-Story Weekly. At the denouement, Zorro's true identity is revealed to all.
Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, on their honeymoon, selected the story as the inaugural picture for their new studio, United Artists, beginning the character's cinematic tradition. The story was adapted as The Mark of Zorro in 1920, which was a success. McCulley's story was re-released by the publisher Grosset & Dunlap under the same title, to tie in with the film.
Due to public demand fueled by the film, McCulley wrote over 60 additional Zorro stories starting in 1922. The last, The Mask of Zorro (not to be confused with the 1998 film), was published posthumously in 1959. These stories ignore Zorro's public revelation of his identity. The black costume that modern audiences associate with the character stems from Fairbanks' smash hit movie rather than McCulley's original story, and McCulley's subsequent Zorro adventures copied Fairbanks's Zorro rather than the other way around. McCulley died in 1958, just as the Disney-produced Zorro television show was becoming phenomenally successful.
In The Curse of Capistrano Don Diego Vega becomes Señor Zorro in the pueblo of Los Angeles in California "to avenge the helpless, to punish cruel politicians," and "to aid the oppressed." He is the title character, as he is dubbed the "curse of Capistrano."
The story involves him romancing Lolita Pulido, an impoverished noblewoman. While Lolita is unimpressed with Diego, who pretends to be a passionless fop, she is attracted to the dashing Zorro. His rival and antagonist is Captain Ramon. Other characters include Sgt. Pedro Gonzales, Zorro's enemy and Diego's friend; Zorro's deaf and mute servant Bernardo; his ally Fray (Friar) Felipe; his father Don Alejandro Vega; and a group of noblemen (caballeros) who at first hunt him but are won over to his cause.
In later stories McCulley introduces characters such as pirates and Native Americans, some of whom know Zorro's identity.
In McCulley's later stories, Diego's surname became de la Vega. In fact, the writer was wildly inconsistent. The first magazine serial ended with the villain dead and Diego publicly exposed as Zorro, but in the sequel the antagonist was alive, and the next entry had the double identity still secret.
Several Zorro productions have expanded on the character's exploits. Many of the continuations feature a younger character taking up the mantle of Zorro.
In The Curse of Capistrano McCulley describes Diego as "unlike the other full-blooded youths of times"; though proud as befitting his class (and seemingly uncaring about the lower classes), he shuns action, rarely wearing his sword except for fashion, and is indifferent to romance with women. This is, of course, a sham. This portrayal, with minor variations, is followed in most Zorro media.
A notable exception to this portrayal is Disney's Zorro (1957–59), where Diego, instead, appears as a passionate and compassionate crusader for justice—but masquerades as "the most inept swordsman in all of California." (Though he still adapted the more foppish persona early on to convince the then corrupted government officials that he was harmless.) In this show, everyone knows Diego would love to do what Zorro does, but thinks he does not have the skill.
The character's visual motif is typically a black costume with a flowing Spanish cape, a flat-brimmed black gaucho hat or Cordobés, and a black cowl sackcloth mask that covers the top of the head from eye level upwards. In his first appearance, he wears a cloak instead of a cape, and a black cloth veil mask covering his whole face with slits for eyes. Other features of the costume may vary; sometimes black riding boots or bell-bottom trousers, sometimes a vest, a waistsash or riding belt, sometimes a moustache, sometimes not.
His favored weapon is a rapier which he often uses to leave his distinctive mark, a Z made with three quick cuts. He also uses a bullwhip. In his debut, he uses a pistol.
The fox is never depicted as Zorro's emblem, but as a metaphor for the character's wiliness ("Zorro, 'the Fox', so cunning and free..." from the Disney television show theme).
His "heroic pose" consists of rearing on his horse, sword raised high (the logo of Zorro Productions, Inc.
Skills and resources
Zorro is an agile athlete and acrobat, using his bullwhip as a gymnastic accoutrement to swing through gaps between city roofs, and is very capable of landing from great heights and taking a fall. Although he is a master swordsman and marksman he has more than once demonstrated his prowess in unarmed combat against multiple opponents.
His calculating and precise dexterity as a tactician has enabled him to use his two main weapons, his sword and bullwhip, as an extension of his very deft hand. He never uses brute strength, more his fox-like sly mind and well-practiced technique to outmatch an opponent.
Some versions of Zorro have a medium-sized dagger tucked in his left boot for emergencies. He has used his cape as a blind, a trip-mat and a disarming tool. Zorro's boots are also sometimes weighted, as is his hat which he has thrown, Frisbee-like, as an efficiently substantial warning to enemies. But more often than not he uses psychological mockery to make his opponents too angry to be coordinated in combat.
Zorro is also a skilled horseman. The name of his jet-black horse has varied through the years. In The Curse of Capistrano it was unnamed. Later versions named the horse Tornado/Toronado or Tempest. In still more versions from time to time, Zorro rides a snowy white horse named Phantom.
McCulley's concept of a band of men helping Zorro is often absent from other versions of the character. An exception is Zorro's Fighting Legion (1939), starring Reed Hadley as Diego. In McCulley's stories Zorro was aided by a deaf mute named Bernardo. In Disney's Zorro television series, Bernardo is not deaf but pretends to be, and serves as Zorro's spy. He is also a capable and invaluable helper for Zorro, even wearing the mask himself occasionally to reinforce his master's charade. The Family Channel's Zorro television series replaces Bernardo with a teenager named Felipe, played by Juan Diego Botto, with a similar disability (his muteness is the result of trauma) and pretense.
Zorro bears some similarities to historical Portuguese bandits. He is often associated with Joaquin Murrieta, the "Mexican and/or Chilean Robin Hood", whose life was fictionalized in an 1854 book by John Rollin Ridge, and in the 1998 film The Mask of Zorro, where Murrieta's (fictional) brother succeeds Diego as Zorro. Other possible inspirations for the character include Robin Hood himself, Reynard the Fox, Salomon Pico, Tiburcio Vasquez, William Lamport (an Irish soldier living in Mexico in the 17th century, whose life was fictionalized by Vicente Riva Palacio and whose biography "The Irish Zorro" was published in 2004) and Yokuts Indian Estanislao, who led a revolt against the Mission San Jose in 1827.
Appearances in media
The character has been adapted for over forty films. They include:
- The Mark of Zorro (1920), with Douglas Fairbanks
- Don Q, Son of Zorro (1925), with Douglas Fairbanks
- The Bold Caballero (1936), with Robert Livingston
- Zorro's Fighting Legion (1939), with Reed Hadley
- The Mark of Zorro (1940), with Tyrone Power
- The Sign of Zorro (1958), with Guy Williams, portions of the first 13 Zorro TV series episodes edited into a feature film, released overseas in 1958 and domestically in 1960.
- Zorro The Avenger (1959), with Guy Williams, another theatrical compilation of several Zorro TV episodes, released overseas, and was not seen in the United States until it was eventually aired on the Disney Channel.
- Zorro (1961) and The Shadow of Zorro (aka Zorro the Avenger) (1962), two Spanish features starring Frank Latimore.
- La Gran Aventura Del Zorro (1974), Mexican Western with Rodolfo de Anda, the first Mexican actor to play the role; with Pedro Armendáriz Jr as the villain and set in a very primitive San Francisco Bay Area.
- Zorro (1975), Zorro meets the spaghetti western, with French actor Alain Delon as Diego Vega, posing as Governor Miguel de la Serna (a slain friend) of Nuova Aragon, fighting the corrupt Colonel Huerta.
- Zorro, The Gay Blade (1981), a parody, with George Hamilton. Diego, Jr., breaks his leg shortly after launching his career as a new Zorro, and his gay twin brother Ramon, now calling himself Bunny Wigglesworth, volunteers to fill in while he recuperates.
- The Mask of Zorro (1998), played against tradition, with Anthony Hopkins as an aged Diego de la Vega and Antonio Banderas as Alejandro Murrieta, a misfit outlaw who is groomed to become the next Zorro.
- The Legend of Zorro (2005), the sequel to the 1998 The Mask of Zorro, again starring Antonio Banderas.
- Zorro, a Walt Disney-produced half-hour television series, running from 1957 to 1959, and starring Guy Williams as Zorro. The two Guy Williams-starred features above were episode compilations, and there were two one-hour follow-ups on the Walt Disney anthology television series in the 1959-1960 TV season.
- The Mark of Zorro (1974), with Frank Langella, a made for television remake of the 1940 film
- The New Adventures of Zorro, 1981 animated series from Filmation.
- Zorro and Son, 1983
- Zorro (also known as The New Zorro or New World Zorro or Zorro 1990) was an early 1990s television series featuring Duncan Regehr. Regehr portrayed him for 88 episodes on The Family Channel from 1990 to 1993. Two feature length videos were episode compilations. It was shot entirely in Madrid, Spain.
- Kaiketsu Zorro (1996) Japanese anime version from NHK and Ashi Productions.
- The New Adventures of Zorro, 1997 animated series from Warner Bros..
- The Amazing Zorro, 2002 made for TV animated film created by DIC Entertainment. It premiered on television on Nickelodeon Sunday Movie Toons and was released on DVD and VHS shortly afterward by MGM Home Entertainment.
- Zorro: La Espada y la Rosa (The Sword and the Rose), a (2007) Spanish language telenovela from Sony Pictures and Telemundo, starring Peruvian actor Christian Meier as Don Diego de la Vega/Zorro and Marlene Favela as Esmeralda Sánchez de Moncada. This was filmed in the colonial village of Villa de Leyva, Colombia.
- Zorro: Generation Z,(2008) animated series follows a descendant of the original Zorro, also named Diego De La Vega, fighting crime and the corrupt government of Pueblo Grande in a future setting.
- In 2009, GMA Network of the Philippines have bought the rights to produce its local remake of the novel, titled Zorro, a television series which premiered on March 23, 2009. The lead role is portrayed by Richard Gutierrez with leading ladies Rhian Ramos, Bianca King, and Michelle Madrigal.
Zorro has appeared in many different comic book series over the decades. One version was rendered by Alex Toth for Dell Comics in Four Color magazine starting in 1949 and appearing through the 1950s. Zorro was given his own title in 1959, which lasted 7 more issues and then was made a regular feature of Walt Disney's Comics and Stories (also published by Dell) from #275 to #278. Gold Key Comics began a Zorro series in 1966, but, like their contemporaneous Lone Ranger series, it featured only material reprinted from the earlier Dell comics, and folded after 9 issues, in 1968. The character remained dormant for the next twenty years until it was revived by Marvel Comics in 1990, for a 12-issue tie-in with the Duncan Regehr television series Zorro. Many of these comics had Alex Toth covers.
Over the years, various English reprint volumes have been published. This include but are not limited to:
In 1993 Topps Comics published a 2-issue mini-series Dracula Versus Zorro followed by a Zorro series that ran 11 issues. Topps created Lady Rawhide, a spin-off from the Zorro stories, in two brief series. All of this was written by Don McGregor. He subsequently scripted a miniseries adaptation of The Mask of Zorro film for Dark Horse Comics.
A newspaper daily and Sunday strip were also published in the late 1990s. This was written by McGregor and rendered by Tom Yeates. Papercutz once published a Zorro series and graphic novels as well. This version is drawn in a manga style.
Dynamite Entertainment relaunched the character in 2008 with writer Matt Wagner first adapting Isabel Allende's novel before writing his own stories. The publisher also released an earlier unpublished tale by Don McGregor.
The character also appeared in European comics and is universally beloved in Latin America, usually in licensed, translated reprints of American comics. In the Netherlands, Zorro was drawn by Hans G. Kresse for the weekly Pep.
A musical titled Zorro opened in the West End in 2008. It is directed by Christopher Renshaw, choreographed by Rafael Amargo and features music from the band Gipsy Kings. Directed by Christopher Renshaw, Zorro features the choreography of flamenco dancer Rafael Amargo.
On the commercial release of the Disney series' Zorro theme, the lead vocal was by Henry Calvin, the actor who played Sergeant Garcia on the program.
Henri Salvador had a hit in 1964 with the humorous song "Zorro est arrivé." It tells from a child's point of view how exciting it is whenever a villain threatens to kill a lady in the television series. But every time again, to his relief, the "great and beautiful" Zorro comes to the rescue. An early music video was made at the time.
Alice Cooper's 1982 album Zipper Catches Skin includes the song "Zorro's Ascent" which is about Zorro facing his death.
Computer and video games
Copyright and trademark
The copyright and trademark status of the Zorro character and stories has been disputed.
A company called Zorro Productions, Inc., asserts that it "controls the worldwide trademarks and copyrights in the name, visual likeness and the character of Zorro." It further states that "The unauthorized, unlicensed use of the name, character and/or likeness of 'Zorro' is an infringement and a violation of state and federal laws."
These claims were disputed in the case Sony Pictures Entertainment v. Fireworks Ent. Group. On January 24, 2001, Sony Pictures, TriStar Pictures and Zorro Productions, Inc. sued Fireworks Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, and Mercury Entertainment, claiming that the Queen of Swords television series infringed upon the copyrights and trademarks of Zorro and associated characters. Sony and TriStar had paid licensing fees to Zorro Productions, Inc., related to the 1998 film The Mask of Zorro. Queen of Swords was a 2000-2001 television series set in Spanish California during the early 19th century and featuring a protagonist who wore a black costume with a red sash demonstrating many aspects of the Zorro character including the swordfighting skills of the rapier and dagger, the dagger in the boot, use of a whip and Bolas, and horse riding skills.
Zorro Productions, Inc., argued that it owned the copyright to the original character because Johnston McCulley assigned his Zorro rights to Mitchell Gertz in 1949. Gertz died in 1961 and his estate transferred to his children, who created Zorro Productions, Inc. Fireworks Entertainment argued that the original rights had already been transferred to Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. in 1920 and provided documents showing this was legally affirmed in 1929, and also questioned whether the copyright was still valid.
The court ruled that "since the copyrights in The Curse of Capistrano and The Mark of Zorro lapsed in 1995 or before, the character Zorro has been in the public domain".
Judge Collins also stated that "Plaintiffs' argument that they have a trademark in Zorro because they licensed others to use Zorro, however, is specious. It assumes that ZPI had the right to demand licenses to use Zorro at all."
On March 22, 2010, Zorro Productions, Inc., sued Mars, Incorporated, makers of M&M's chocolate candies, and ad agency BBDO Worldwide over a commercial featuring a Zorro-like costume.
- With some changes to reflect school colors, Zorro's black mask, cape and gaucho hat have been adopted by mascots at University of California Santa Barbara (Gauchos), Texas Tech University and Edward S. Marcus High School.
- Zorro is a meetable character at Universal Studios Theme Parks.
- Puss in Boots, the cat from the Shrek film series voiced by Antonio Banderas (who also played Zorro in The Mask of Zorro and The Legend of Zorro), is based loosely on the fairy tale character of the same name and at the same time Zorro, in his fighting style, accent and personality. While attacking Shrek, he used his sword to scratch a "P", a parody of Zorro's trademark move.
- In the Duck Dodgers episode "The Mark of Xero," Duck Dodgers took on the guise of Xero (who is a parody of Zorro) in order to liberate a California-based planet from the clutches of the evil Commandante Hilgalgo (who is a homage to Colonel Huerta from the 1975 movie).
- Corny Snaps was a Kellogg's breakfast cereal created in 1975 featuring Snappy the Turtle, a Zorro like character, with mask, sword and steed, who delivered his corny-oats "S" shaped cereal to the masses, while carving his trademark "S" as he went.
- During the Halloween-Time at Disneyland and Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween at Walt Disney World events, when the character mascots dress up in costume, Mickey Mouse dresses up as Zorro.
- In the video game, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Jack Sparrow, one of the individuals Jack and Will Turner must fight is an officer of the Spanish Armada: Don Carerra de la Vega, master of the thousand-strike-spin.
- Professional wrestler Jesus Cristóbal Martínez Rodriguez bases his wrestling character on Zorro.
- ^ All-Story Weekly vol. 100 #2 (August 9, 1919) - vol. 101 #2 (September 6, 1919)
- ^ Zorro Productions, Inc.
- ^ Maltin, Leonard, Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide 2007 Edition, Plume, 2006, pp. 1519 & 1181.
- ^ Zorro: Generation Z
- ^ Zorro Conquers the Philippines
- ^ Zorro (Sinclair ZX Spectrum computer game)
- ^ "About Zorro Productions Inc." page from the company's web site
- ^ "Highlights of the Zorro Publishing Program" page from the company's web site.
- ^ "Sony Pictures Entertainment v. Fireworks Ent. Group." at Google Scholar, retrieved Dec. 4, 2010.
- ^ Note 31 of Sony Pictures Entertainment v. Fireworks Ent. Group.
- ^ Zorro complaint