Zorro's debut in The Curse of Capistrano.
|First appearance||All-Story Weekly (August 1919)|
|Created by||Johnston McCulley|
|Nationality||Californian / Mexican|
Zorro (Spanish for "fox") is the secret identity of Don Diego de la Vega, a fictional character created in 1919 by pulp writer Johnston McCulley. He is a Californio nobleman living in Los Angeles during the era of Mexican rule (between 1821 and 1846), although some movie adaptations of Zorro's story have placed him during the earlier Spanish rule.
The character has undergone changes through the years, but the typical image of him is a dashing black-clad masked outlaw who defends the commoners and indigenous peoples of the land against tyrannical officials and other villains. Not only is he too cunning and foxlike for the bumbling authorities to catch, but he also delights in publicly humiliating them.
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 film The Mark of Zorro (1920), which was a commercial success. McCulley's story was rereleased by publisher Grosset & Dunlap under the same title, to tie in with the film.
In response to public demand fueled by the film, McCulley wrote more than sixty more Zorro stories, beginning 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. McCulley died in 1958, just as the Disney-produced Zorro television show was becoming popular.
Fictional character biography
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 is Captain Ramon. Other characters include Sgt. Pedro Gonzales, Zorro's enemy but 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 villain 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, Diego is described as "unlike the other full-blooded youths of the 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, despite using the original facade early in the series, instead becomes a passionate and compassionate crusader for justice and simply masquerades as "the most inept swordsman in all of California". In this show, everyone knows Diego would love to do what Zorro does, but thinks he does not have the skill.
The Family Channel's Zorro (1990–1993) takes this concept further. While Diego pretends to be inept with a sword, the rest of his facade is actually exaggerating his real interests. Diego is actually well versed and interested in art, poetry, literature, and science. His facade is pretending to be interested in only these things and to have no interest in swordplay or action. Zorro also has a well-equipped laboratory in his hidden cave in this version of the story.
The character's visual motif is typically a black costume with a flowing Spanish cape, a flat-brimmed black sombrero cordobés, and a black cowl sackcloth domino 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 with slits for eyes covers his whole face. Other features of the costume may vary.
The fox is never depicted as Zorro's emblem. It is used as a metaphor for the character's wiliness, such as in the lyrics "Zorro, 'the Fox', so cunning and free ..." from the Disney television show theme.
His heroic pose consists of rearing on his horse Tornado, sword raised high. (The logo of Zorro Productions, Inc. uses an example of this pose.)
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 deft hand. He never uses brute strength, more his fox-like sly mind and well-practiced technique to outmatch an opponent.
In some versions, Zorro keeps 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-style, 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 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 other versions, Zorro rides a 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 Douglas Fairbanks' version, he also has a band of masked men helping him. 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 a capable and invaluable helper for Zorro, sometimes wearing the mask 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 and pretense.
The historical figure most often associated with the Zorro character is Joaquin Murrieta, whose life was fictionalized in an 1854 dime novel by John Rollin Ridge. In the 1998 film The Mask of Zorro Murrieta's (fictitious) brother Alejandro succeeds Diego as Zorro. As a hero with a secret identity who taunts his foes by signing his deeds, Zorro finds a direct literary predecessor in Sir Percival Blakeney, hero of the Scarlet Pimpernel pulp series by Emma Orczy.
The character recalls other figures, such as Robin Hood, Reynard the Fox, Salomon Pico, Manuel Rodríguez Erdoíza, and Tiburcio Vasquez. Another possible historical inspiration is William Lamport, an Irish soldier who lived in Mexico in the seventeenth century. His life was the subject of a fictive book by Vicente Riva Palacio; The Irish Zorro (2004) is a recent biography. Another is Estanislao, a Yokuts man who led a revolt against the Mission San Jose in 1827.
The 1890s penny dreadful treatment of the Spring-heeled Jack character as a masked avenger may have inspired some aspects of Zorro's heroic persona. Spring Heeled Jack was portrayed as a nobleman who created a flamboyant, masked alter ego to fight injustice, frequently demonstrated exceptional athletic and combative skills, maintained a hidden lair and was known to carve the letter "S" into walls with his rapier as a calling card.
Like Sir Percy in The Scarlet Pimpernel, Don Diego avoids suspicion by playing the role of an effete dandy who wears lace, writes poetry, and shuns violence. The all-black Fairbanks film costume, which with variations has remained the standard costume for the character, was likely adapted from the Arrow serial film character The Masked Rider (1919). This character was the first Mexican black-clad masked rider on a black horse to appear on the silver screen. Fairbanks's costume in The Mark of Zorro, released the following year, resembled that of the Rider with only slight differences in the mask and hat.
Appearances in media
- Johnston McCulley's original magazine serial, The Curse of Capistrano from All-Story Weekly, was published in 1924 as a novel by Grosset & Dunlap under the title The Mark of Zorro. It was reprinted by MacDonald & Co. in 1959 and by Tor books in 1998, ISBN 978-0-8125-4007-9.
- Johnston McCulley's Zorro novels and short stories are being reprinted by Bold Venture Press in a series of trade paperback editions.
- Zorro: The Complete Pulp Adventures Volume One March 2016 ISBN 978-1530392445
- Zorro: The Complete Pulp Adventures Volume Two June 2016 ISBN 978-1534602007
- Zorro: The Complete Pulp Adventures Volume Three September 2016
- Zorro: The Complete Pulp Adventures Volume Four November 2016
- Zorro: The Complete Pulp Adventures Volume Five January 2017
- Zorro: The Complete Pulp Adventures Volume Six March 2017
- Johnston McCulley's Zorro short stories were reprinted by Pulp Adventures Inc. in a series of trade paperback editions.
- Zorro The Master's Edition Volume One (1932–1944) February 2000 ISBN 1-891729-20-9
- Zorro The Master's Edition Volume Two (1944–1946) January 2002 ISBN 1-891729-21-7
- Zorro The Master's Edition: A Task For Zorro (1947) July 2002 ISBN 1-891729-31-4
- A series of paperback novels were published by Tom Doherty Associates, Inc. Books in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
- Zorro and the Jaguar Warriors by Jerome Preisler September 1998 ISBN 978-0-8125-6767-0
- Zorro and The Dragon Riders by David Bergantino March 1999 ISBN 978-0-8125-6768-7
- Zorro and the Witch's Curse by John Whitman April 2000 ISBN 978-0-8125-6769-4
- Gerard Ronan's Biography of William Lamport "The Irish Zorro" was published by Brandon Books in 2004. ISBN 978-0-86322-329-7.
- Minstrel Books published A series of young reader novels based on the motion picture The Mask of Zorro.
- The Treasure of Don Diego by William McCay 1998 ISBN 978-0-671-51968-1
- Skull and Crossbones by Frank Lauria 1999 ISBN 978-0-671-51970-4
- The Secret Swordsman by William McCay 1999 ISBN 978-0-671-51969-8
- The Lost Temple by Frank Lauria 1999
- Zorro filmographic books have also been published:
- Two novelization of films from Sony:
- The character was also the subject of a historical novel by a famous Chilean author.
- inspired in Allende's novel, Harper Collins released:
- Young Zorro: The Iron Brand by Jan Adkins 2005 Harper Collins ISBN 978-0060839468
- 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.
- The Mark of Zorro (1974), a made for television movie with Frank Langella as Zorro that reuses the Alfred Newman theme from 1940's The Mark of Zorro.
- 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 Don Diego de la Vega and Antonio Banderas as Alejandro Murrieta, a misfit outlaw/cowboy who is groomed to become the next Zorro.
- The Legend of Zorro (2005), the sequel to 1998's The Mask of Zorro, again starring Antonio Banderas.
In 2014 20th Century Fox were reported to be working on a reboot Zorro film called Zorro Reborn with Gael Garcia Bernal in the title role, set in the future with a script by Glen Gers, Lee Shipman, and Brian McGeevy. Sony were also reported in 2014 to be planning their own film, with a script by Christopher Stetson Boal based on the novel by Isabel Allende. This treatment created a new backstory and featured lethal fighting systems that combined swords, daggers, grappling and bare knuckles. Sony were also reported to be planning a Django Unchained and Zorro crossover movie as of December 2014. As of February 2016 Lantica Media and Sobini films are producing a Zorro film called Z with Jonas Cuaron to write and direct the film. Bernal was once again courted to star as the masked hero. Production is expected to begin in the fall.
- La Gran Aventura Del Zorro (1976), 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.
A similar character was "The Black Wolf" set in Monterey, California in 1846.
- El lobo negro (1981) Spain & Mexico Fernando Allende
- Duelo a muerte/Revenge of the Black Wolf (1981) Spain Fernando Allende
In addition to a variety of Zorro films, European producers also used a similar character called the Coyote.
- À la manière de Zorro / In the Way of Zorro (1926) Belgium William Elie
- Il sogno di Zorro (1952) Italy Walter Chiari
- La montaña sin ley (1953) Spain José Suárez (Suárez is the first Spanish actor to play the role)
- Zorro alla corte di Spagna / Zorro at the Spanish Court (1962) Italy George Ardisson
- La venganza del Zorro / Zorro the Avenger (1962) Spain Frank Latimore
- L'ombra di Zorro / The Shadow of Zorro (1962) Italy, Spain & France Frank Latimore
- Le tre spade di Zorro / The Three Swords of Zorro (1963) Spain & Italy Guy Stockwell
- Zorro e i tre moschettieri / Zorro and the Three Musketeers (1963) Italy Gordon Scott
- Zorro contro Maciste / Samson and the Slave Queen (1963) Italy & Spain Pierre Brice
- Il segno di Zorro / Duel at the Rio Grande (1963) Spain, Italy & France Sean Flynn
- El Zorro cabalga otra vez / Behind the Mask of Zorro (1965) Italy & Spain Tony Russel
- Zorro il ribelle / Zorro the Rebel (1966) Italy Howard Ross
- El Zorro (1968) Italy & Spain George Ardisson
- I nipoti di Zorro / The Nephews of Zorro (1968) Italy Dean Reed (comedy with Franco & Ciccio)
- Zorro marchese di Navarra / Zorro, the Navarra Marquis (1969) Italy Nino Vingelli
- Zorro alla corte d'Inghilterra / Zorro in the Court of England (1969) Italy Spiros Focás
- El Zorro justiciero (1969) Italy & Spain Fabio Testi
- La última aventura del Zorro (1970) Spain & Italy Carlos Quiney
- El Zorro de Monterrey (1971) Spain & Italy Carlos Quiney
- Zorro il cavaliere della vendetta / Zorro, Rider of Vengeance (1971) Spain & Italy Carlos Quiney
- The Erotic Adventures of Zorro (1972) France, USA & West Germany Douglas Frey
- Les aventures galantes de Zorro (1972) France & Belgium Jean-Michel Dhermay
- Il figlio di Zorro / Son of Zorro (1973) Italy & Spain Alberto Dell'Acqua
- Le meravigliose avventure di Zorro (1974) Italy
- Il sogno di Zorro / Grandsons of Zorro (1975) Italy Franco Franchi
- Zorro (1975) Italy & France Alain Delon
- La marque de Zorro (1975) France Monica Swinn
- Ah sì? E io lo dico a Zzzzorro! / Mark of Zorro (1976) Italy & Spain George Hilton
The Coyote of "El Coyote" was a creation of Spanish novelist José Mallorquí Figuerola writing as Carter Mulford beginning with a novel of the same name in 1943.
- El coyote (1955) Spain & Mexico Act Odón Alonso
- La justicia del Coyote / Judgement of Coyote (1956) Spain & Mexico Odón Alonso
- Il segno del coyote / The Sign of the Coyote (1963) Italy & Spain Fernando Casanova
- La vuelta de El Coyote / The Return of El Coyote (1998) Spain José Coronado
- Zorro Rides Again (1937), with John Carroll as a modern-day descendant, James Vega
- Zorro's Fighting Legion (1939), with Reed Hadley as the original Zorro/Don Diego de la Vega
- Zorro's Black Whip (1944), with Linda Stirling as an 1880s female descendent, The Black Whip
- Son of Zorro (1947), with George Turner as a Civil War descendant, Jeff Stewart
- Ghost of Zorro (1949), with Clayton Moore as Ken Mason, Zorro's grandson/"The Ghost of Zorro"
- Zorro, a Disney half-hour television series, running from 1957 to 1959, starring Guy Williams as Zorro. The two features listed above starring Guy Williams were episode compilations, and there were four one-hour follow-ups on the Walt Disney anthology television series in the 1960–1961 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,(2006) 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.
- Zorro, a 2009 TV series from the GMA Network of the Philippines. The lead role is portrayed by Richard Gutierrez with leading ladies Rhian Ramos, Bianca King, and Michelle Madrigal.
- Zorro: The Chronicles, an animated series (2016)
- Walt Disney's Zorro: [1. Presenting Señor Zorro; 2. Zorro Frees The Indians; 3. Zorro And The Ghost; 4. Zorro's Daring Rescue] (1957) released by Disneyland Records. This album retold stories from the Disney Zorro television series and featured Guy Williams as Zorro and Don Diego, Henry Calvin as Sergeant Garcia, Phil Ross as Monastario, Jan Arvan as Torres, Jimmie Dodd from The Mickey Mouse Club as Padre Felipe, with other voices by Dallas McKennon and sound effects by Jimmy Macdonald and Eddie Forrest. Record story adaptations by Bob Thomas and George Sherman. Music composed and conducted by William Lava.
- The Adventures of Zorro. (1957) Based on the original Johnston McCulley story The Curse of Capistrano (aka The Mark of Zorro). It was written by Maria Little, directed by Robert M. Light and produced by Mitchell Gertz. This short-lived radio show was a series of short episodes. Only a handful of episodes are known to have survived.
- The Mark of Zorro. (1997) [No longer available] Produced by the BBC it starred Mark Arden as Zorro, Louise Lombard as Lolita and Glyn Houston as Friar Felipe. It aired in 5 parts. 1. July 3 97 Night of the Fox: 2. July 10 97 Deadly Reckonings: 3. July 17 97 The Avenging Blade 4. July 24 97 The Place of Skulls 5. July 31 97 The Gathering Storm
- Zorro and the Pirate Raiders. (2009) Based on the D.J. Arneson adaptation of Johnston McCulley's The Further Adventures of Zorro. Produced by Colonial Radio Theatre on the Air. Published by Brilliance Audio. It features Kevin Cirone, Shonna McEachern, Hugh Metzler, J.T. Turner, Sam Donato, Joseph Zamperelli Jr., and Dan Powell.
- Zorro Rides Again. (2011) Based on the D.J. Arneson adaptation of Johnston McCulley's "Zorro Rides Again". Produced by Colonial Theatre on the Air. It features the voice talents of Kevin Cirone, Jeremy Benson, Shonna McEachern, Shana Dirk, Sam Donato, and Hugh Metzler.
- The Mark of Zorro. (2011) Based on The Curse of Capistrano. Produced by Hollywood Theater of the Ear for Blackstone Audio.It features the voice talents of Val Kilmer as Diego de la Vega/Zorro, Ruth Livier as Lolita Pulido, Elizabeth Peña as Doña Catalina Pulido, Armin Shimmerman as the Landlord, Mishach Taylor as Sgt Pedro Gonzalez, Keith Szarabajka as Cpt Ramone, Ned Schmidtke as Don Carlos Pulido, Scott Brick as the Governor, Stefan Rudnicki as Fray Felipe, Kristoffer Tabori as Don Alejando de la Vega, Philip Proctor as Don Audre, John Sloan as the Magistrado, and Gordo Panza in numerous roles.
Due to the popularity of the Disney TV series, in 1958, The Topps Company produced an 88-card set featuring stills from that year's movie. The cards were rare and became collectors' items. In the same year the Louis Marx company released a variety of Zorro toys such as hats, swords, toy pistols and a playset with the Lido company also making plastic figures.
A major toy line based on the classic Zorro characters, motifs and styling, was released by Italian toy giant, Giochi Preziosi, master toy licensees of the property. The toy range was developed by Pangea Corporation and released worldwide in 2005 and featured action figures in various scales, interactive playsets and roleplaying items. New original characters were also introduced, including Senor Muerte, who served as a foil to Zorro.
In 2007, Brazilian toymaker Gulliver Toys licensed the rights to Zorro: Generation Z, which was co-developed by BKN and Pangea Corporation. The toy range was designed concurrent and in association with the animated program.
In 2011, US-based collectibles company Triad Toys released a 12-inch Zorro action figure.
Zorro has appeared in many different comic book series over the decades. In Hit Comics # 55 published by Quality Comics in November 1948, Zorro is summoned by Kid Eternity, in this version has only a whip and does not wear a mask.
Dell Comics published Zorro in Four Color Comics # 228 (1949), 425 (1952), 497 (1953), 538 (1954), 574 (1954), 617 (1955) and 732 (1957), This stories featured artwork by Everett Raymond Kinstler (497, 538, and 574), Bob Fujitani, Bob Correa and Alberto Giolitti. In 1958, it resumed publication in Four Colors, based on the Disney's TV series, with the first stories featuring artwork by Alex Toth.
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. From 1965 to 1974, through Disney Studio Program, the Walt Disney Studio had a unit producing comic book stories exclusively for foreign consumption, to meet the demand, other countries produced Zorro comics under license from Disney: Brazil, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark and the United Kingdom.
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:
- Zorro In Old California Eclipse Books ISBN 978-0-913035-12-2
- Zorro The Complete Classic Adventures By Alex Toth. Volume One, Image Comics 1998. ISBN 9781582400143
- Zorro The Complete Classic Adventures By Alex Toth. Volume Two, Image Comics 1998. ISBN 978-1582400273
- Zorro The Dailies – The First Year By Don McGregor, Thomas Yeates. Image Comics 2001. ISBN 1-58240-239-6
- Alex Toth's Zorro: The Complete Dell Comics Adventures. Hermes Press 2013. ISBN 978-1613450314
- Zorro: The Complete Dell Pre-Code Comics. Hermes Press 2014. ISBN 9781613450666
In 1993 Topps Comics published a 2-issue mini-series Dracula Versus Zorro followed by a Zorro series that ran 11 issues. Topps published two miniseries of Lady Rawhide, a spin-off from the Zorro stories created by writer Don McGregor and artist Mike Mayhew. McGregor subsequently scripted a miniseries adaptation of The Mask of Zorro film for Image 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 called "Matanzas" by Don McGregor and artist Mike Mayhew. Zorro also appears in the 2013 Dynamite title Masks alongside Green Hornet, Kato, The Shadow, and The Spider. Written by Chris Roberson with art by Alex Ross and Dennis Calero.
The character also appeared in European comics and is 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.
Approximately 65 separate Zorro live productions have been produced. These have included traditional stage plays, comedies, melodramas, musicals, children's plays, stunt shows, and ballets. Some examples include:
- Ken Hill wrote and directed the musical production of Zorro, which opened on 14 February 1995 at the East Stratford Theater in London. Ken Hill died just days before the opening.
- Michael Nelson wrote a stage adaptation of Zorro for the Birmingham Children's Theater in 1996. Beaufort County Now called it "a fun and fast paced production perfect for children 6 and up." Abe Reybold directed with scenic design by Yoshi Tanokura and costume designs by Donna Meester. Jay Tumminello provided an original score.
- Theater Under the Stars in Houston, Texas, put on Zorro, the Musical as an opera in 1998. It was written and directed by Frank Young and starring Richard White as Zorro.
- In 1999, Anthony Rhine and Joseph Henson wrote Zorro Live!, which was performed at the Riverside Light Opera theater.
- In 2002, playwright Michael Harris wrote The Legend of Zorro, which has been performed in many high schools.
- Michael Smuin's critically lauded modern ballet version of Zorro premiered in the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco in 2003. Composer Charles Fox provided the score, and Matthew Robbins wrote the libretto. Ann Beck was costume designer and Douglas W. Schmidt was set designer. Smuin himself choreographed.
- Culture Clash's Zorro in Hell opened in 2005 in the Berkeley Repertory theater, then in 2006 in the La Jolla Playhouse and the Montelban Theater in Los Angeles. Zorro In Hell was written and performed by Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas and Herbert Siguenza. Culture Clash used the legend of Zorro as a lens to examine California's cultural, economic and historical issues. The LA Times called it "a zany bicultural send-up of California history."
- Award-winning playwright Bernardo Solano wrote a modern adaptation of Zorro for TheatreWorks at the University of Colorado in 2007. Robert Castro directed and Justin Huen starred as Zorro. The Denver post called the production "a fresh take," and "a formula other companies should emulate."
- In Uppsala, Sweden, Erik Norberg wrote a Zorro stage adaptation for the Stadsteatern Theatre directed by Alexander Oberg and starring Danilo Bejarano as Zorro. The production opened in 2008.
- The Scottish children's theater troupe Visible Fictions put on a touring production of The Mask of Zorro in 2009. Davey Anderson wrote the script and Douglas Irvine directed. Robin Peoples designed the sets, which The New York Times called "a triumph."
- Lifehouse Theater, a Redlands, CA-based company, put on 'Zorro, written and scored by Wayne Scott. Zorro opened in 2009.
- In 2012, Janet Allard and Eleanor Holdridge produced and directed Zorro at the Constellation Theatre in Washington, DC. Holdridge directed and Danny Gavigan played Zorro. The Washington Post said of the production, "Constellation augments its classical thrust in a thoughtful way with 'Zorro,' which continues the company's laudable efforts at delivering intimate theater with high standards for design."
- The Oregon-based ballet troupe Ballet Fantastique produced Zorro: The Ballet as an opener to their 2013 season. Eugene Weekly called the ballet "zesty, fresh, fantastic treat."
- Z – The Musical of Zorro by Robert W. Cabell was released in 1998 as a CD. The CD premiere with Ruben Gomez (Zorro) and Debbie Gibson (Carlotta) is published as a CD. The stage premiere took place on June 13, 2013 at the Clingenburg Festspiele in Klingenberg am Main, Bavaria, Germany, with Karl Grunewald and Philip Georgopoulos as alternating Zorros, Judith Perez as Carlotta, Daniel Coninx as Governor Juan Carlos, Daniel Pabst as Capitàn Raphaél Ramerez and Christian Theodoridis as Sergeant Santiago Garcia. This production was directed by Marcel Krohn and premiered in the presence of the composer.
- A musical titled Zorro opened in the West End in 2008. It is directed by Christopher Renshaw, choreographed by Rafael Amargo and features music composed by the world famous Gipsy Kings. It was nominated for 5 Oliviers, including Best Musical. It has since enjoyed professional productions in Tokyo, Paris, Amsterdam, Moscow, Prague, Warsaw, Tel Aviv, Seoul, Shanghai, São Paulo and elsewhere. The US premiere production took place in 2012 at Hale Centre Theatre in Salt Lake City, Utah, with a further production at the Alliance Theater in Atlanta Georgia, where it won five awards including Best Musical.
- In 2015, The M7 Con Western Convention, held at the Los Angeles Convention Center featured a segment on the history of Zorro in film and television. The presentation focused on the great Zorro actors including Douglas Fairbanks, Tyrone Power, Guy Williams, and Duncan Regehr. Maestro Ramon Martinez and actor Alex Kruz gave a live demonstration of the Spanish style of fencing known as La Verdadera Destreza. The two dueled live as Zorro and the Comandante much to the delight of the crowd.
On the commercial release of the Zorro 1957 Disney TV series' Zorro theme, the lead vocal was by Henry Calvin, the actor who played Sergeant Garcia on the program. The song was written by Jimmie Dodd.
The Chordettes sang the single version of the song, complete with the "Sounds of the Z" and the clip clopping of Zorro's horse, which is heard at the song's end. The song hit Number 17 in 1958 according to the Billboard Charts.
In 1964, Henri Salvador sang "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.
The 1999 song "El Corona" by Suburban Legends tells the story of "Don Diego", the "hombre en negro", a "tall Spaniard with a sharp sword" who was "down and out in LA" and defending the people from an unnamed corrupt ruler.
Computer and video games
- Zorro (1986), Sinclair ZX Spectrum
- Zorro (1995), PC
- The Mask of Zorro (1999), Game Boy Color
- The Shadow of Zorro (2001), PC, PlayStation 2
- The Destiny of Zorro (2008), Wii
- Zorro: Quest for Justice (2009), Nintendo DS
- There is a Zorro themed poker machine at gaming establishments in Australia and New Zealand.
In July 2001, the Gold Rush Games published The Legacy of Zorro Introductory Adventure Game (ISBN 1-890305-26-X) by Mark Arsenault for Fuzion.
Copyright and trademark disputes
The copyright and trademark status of the Zorro character and stories are disputed. 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 "[t]he unauthorized, unlicensed use of the name, character and/or likeness of 'Zorro' is an infringement and a violation of state and federal laws."
In 1999, TriStar Pictures Inc. sued Del Taco, Inc., due to a fast-food restaurant advertising campaign that allegedly infringed Zorro Productions’ claims to a trademark on the character of Zorro. In an August 1999 order, the court ruled that it would not invalidate Zorro Productions’ trademarks as a result of the defendant's arguments that certain copyrights in Zorro being in the public domain or owned by third parties.
A dispute took place in the 2001 case of 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 hero who wore a black costume with a red sash and demonstrated similarities to the character of Zorro, including the sword-fighting skills, 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."
In another legal action in 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. The case was settled with "each party shall bear its own costs incurred in connection with this action, including its attorney's fees and costs" on August 13, 2010.
In March 2013, Robert W. Cabell, author of Z - the Musical of Zorro (1998), filed another lawsuit against Zorro Productions, Inc. The lawsuit asserted that the Zorro character is in the public domain and that the trademark registrations by Zorro Productions, Inc., are therefore fraudulent. In October, 2014, Cabell's lawsuit was dismissed, with the judge ruling that the state of Washington (where the case was filed) did not have jurisdiction over the matter. However the judge later reversed his decision and had the case transferred to California.
In June 2015, Robert W. Cabell's legal dispute with Zorro Productions, Inc. resulted in the Community Trade Mark for "Zorro" being declared invalid by the European Union's Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market for goods of classes 16 and 41. This follows the ‘Winnetou’ ruling of the Office's First Board of Appeal in which the Board of Appeal ruled that the name of famous characters cannot be protected as a trademark in these classes. Both rulings are currently being appealed. Zorro Productions, Inc. owns approximately 1300 other ZORRO related trademarks worldwide.
Bob Kane has credited Zorro as part of the inspiration for Batman. Like Zorro, Bruce Wayne is affluent, the heir of wealth built by his parents. His everyday persona encourages others to think of him as shallow, foolish and uncaring to throw off suspicion. Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns and The Dark Knight Strikes Again both include multiple Zorro references like the Batman inscribing a Z on a defeated foe. In later tellings of Batman's origins, Bruce Wayne's parents are murdered by a robber as the family leaves a showing of the 1940 film The Mark of Zorro, starring Tyrone Power.
Hanna-Barbara Productions' Pixie and Dixie cartoon featured a Zorro-like character with a mask, cape and sword known in the episode "Mark of the Mouse." Hanna-Barbara Production's El Kabong character, an alternate persona of Quick Draw McGraw is loosely based upon Zorro.
A cave that was used as a filming location in various Zorro productions is now known as "Zorro's Cave" and remains in place, now hidden behind a condominium complex, on land that was once the Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, Calif., recognized as the most widely filmed outdoor shooting location in the history of Hollywood.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Zorro.|
- Zorro Productions, Inc.
- A comprehensive guide to the New World Zorro television series
- Zorro The Musical 2008
- A guide to the Walt Disney television series version of Zorro
- Zorro at the Internet Movie Database
- The Legacy of the Fox: A Chronology of Zorro