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Excerpts from the 7-Up Zorro Newsletter
Originally donated by MaryAnn T. Beverly
|Volume 1, Number 1 from
the "7-Up Zorro News Letter"
"On Thursday, April 18, 1957, a tall, handsome young man visited the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, Calif., to make a screen test. The test turned out to be the most important event in the actor's career.
A few weeks later, Guy Williams signed an exclusive contract with the Disney Studios to star in the great new ABC-TV adventure series, ZORRO. In placing the six foot three New York actor under contract, Disney feels he has discovered one of the great new personalities of the entertainment world --a romantic, dashing young man who may well become one of the great heartthrobs of modern day Hollywood......
Norman Foster, of "Davy Crockett" fame, who directs Williams in ZORRO, is amazed that "the other Hollywood studios failed to get him before we did."
The article is called:
"Little Film Now - But Whale of a lot of 'Zorro Action' Already Is in Records"
Walt Disney Studios, Burbank, Calif. August 5 - It is impossible to tour the ZORRO sets at this fascinating film lot without coming away with the feeling that the new half-hour television series will be a kind of landmark for the medium.
To walk the streets of El Pueblo, the replica of early Los Angeles where so much of "Zorro's" action occurs; to talk with members of the Disney organization; to see the rapidly filling press books, and to read the first few ZORRO scripts - is to get pretty excited about it all.
As this is written, only a relatively small amount of film has been run through the Disney cameras. But what a whale of a lot of work has already gone into this new series!
First there was the long search for the lead character, Zorro. It was a tough search because it is a tough part -- actually, two parts. The man who would play this "Robin Hood" of Old California must be two men: first the foppy, ineffectual Don Diego, son of a distinguished California family; secondly the dashing, sword-wielding, whip-lashing "Zorro the fox."
The actor had to be a handsome, powerful man of manly stature. He must play the guitar and have a fair voice for Don Diego's songs. He must be an accomplished swordsman -- accomplished enough to require no double in scene after scene of slashing action. He must be able to use a whip with all the dexterity of a circus performer. Above all, he must be able to act.
Guy Williams, a towering young man with a magnificent build and a handsome, rugged face, got the part. With it he got an exclusive contract with Walt Disney Studios which called for one of the most elaborate and thoughtful star building campaigns in television history. The New York born actor was virtually assured of star billing in every other entertainment medium as a result of playing "Zorro."
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Perhaps a day in late July, for instance, was typical for Williams. He arose at 6 a.m. to go to a recording studio to tape one of the songs Don Diego will sing in the first episodes. Including preparations, retakes, etc., the session lasted a concentrated two hours.
Next he was taken to Costuming to pick up both the Zorro costume and that of the wealthy dandy, Don Diego.
Next, following lunch (quick lunch), Williams was driven to the studios of Paul Hesse, one of Hollywood's best known still photographers, for studio stills.
From the issue dated June 1958
"A 7 1/2 pound daughter, Toni, was born to Janice Cooper Williams and Guy Williams, May 23 in Cedars of Lebanon Hospital, Hollywood. Toni joins Steve Williams, 6, in the household of "Zorro."
Young Stevie wanted a baby brother, but the proud parents were hoping for a girl. Either way it would have been Tony or Toni. News of the birth hit newspapers throughout the U.S. via columnists and the Associated Press."
As a result of the national recognition gained through acting roles in the "Zorro" series, three personalities will soon be seen in a trio of feature pictures guaranteed to sweep the country in popularity.
Suave, swashbuckling Guy Williams will soon be cast in a western flavored film entitled "Gold." Williams will star as the same type of dashing caballero currently seen each week as Don Diego in "Zorro."
Also, Henry Calvin (Sgt. Garcia) and Gene Sheldon (Bernardo) are slated for primary roles in two features in the early stages of production at Disney -- "Babes in Toyland" and "Toby Tyler."
Release dates are yet to be determined, but it is a certainty that when films starring these versatile actors circulate, the names of those three 7-Up representatives will be brought home to every family in the country.
Result: even greater sales impact from 7-Up's sponsorship of "Zorro."
"Vengeance in some form has been imposed on Guy Williams, the man indirectly responsible for thousands of Zorro's 'Zs' appearing on woodwork, walls, and fences all over the country. Someone applied a huge 'Z' to Guy's convertible. "I had it painted over," Williams said, "but you can still see it if you look hard."
"Hundreds of thousands of youngsters and adults in the Pacific Northwest will get their first, in-person glimpse of "Zorro," -- the new national TV hero -- when dashing Guy Williams visits Portland, Oregon June 12-14 to serve as Grand Marshal of the famous Portland Rose Festival."
Newsletter dated January-February 1959
ZORRO'S RIDE IN ROSE BOWL PARADE SEEN BY FOURTEEN MILLION VIEWERS
Close to fourteen million American families watched Zorro atop his prancing, black stallion on live TV on New Year's Day. This was the largest, longest, and most colorful Tournament of Roses Parade in the sixty-nine year history of the event.
There were sixty-two floats, twenty-two bands and literally scores of equestrian units, but none was so universally known as Guy Williams attired as the dashing Zorro.
Lining the streets of Pasadena during the parade were an estimated million and a half spectators. With them, Zorro was clearly a smash. As they saw the black figured horseman approaching, they set up a din heard for miles.
Counting the many millions who saw the parade via delayed telecast, on news programs, in hometown newspaper picture spreads and through newsreels, the total estimated audience exceeded one hundred million persons of all ages.
The live broadcasts were carried border to border by ABC and NBC, and beyond by the Armed Forces Network. NBC beamed the parade in compatible color to most of its stations. (Many) spent long moments on the prancing masked man and pointed out his enormous popularity with the younger generation.
Many young spectators were dressed in Zorro suits themselves. Many gave and received in kind a warm and sincere wave from Zorro. Hundreds of thousands more were content to cheer enthusiastically.
Excellent crowd control kept Zorro's fans very orderly even when he was forced to hold the black horse just a few feet away from them.
It was not until Williams entered the final dispersal area that thirty youngsters broke ranks to surround him. They had obviously planned the autograph ambush long before."
"Rare is the human actor who is accorded the ultra-polite treatment given Tornado, the sleek, black charger ridden each week by Zorro.
A particularly strenuous day of shooting recently resulted in the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals governing Tornado's working conditions to prevent over exertion.
Consequently, two extra horses were acquired as full-length duplicates of Tornado. The third "double" was a specialist, appearing as Tornado's hind quarters only."
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