Zorro: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Zorro's debut:
The Curse of Capistrano
Publication information
Publisher Zorro Productions, Inc.
First appearance All-Story Weekly vol. 100 #2 (August 6, 1919)
Created by Johnston McCulley
In-story information
Alter ego - Don Diego (de la) Vega
(original, different successors in different versions)
Abilities Superb athlete, horseman, swordsman, marksman, and unarmed combatant. Well educated, wealthy and cultured nobleman. Extensive scientific knowledge and advanced gadgets (depending on the version)

Zorro is a fictional character created in 1919 by pulp writer Johnston McCulley. He has been featured in several 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 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.


Publishing history

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.[1] 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.

Fictional history

The Mark of Zorro, starring Douglas Fairbanks, the first Zorro film and instrumental in the early success of the character

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." In this show, everyone knows Diego would love to do what Zorro does, but thinks he does not have the skill.

Character motifs

The character's visual motif is typically a black costume with a flowing Spanish cape, a black gaucho hat or Cordobés, and a black cowl 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 mask covering his whole face with slits for eyes.

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 (Guy Williams) and Bernardo (Gene Sheldon) in the 1950s Zorro television series

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 more than able 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 when used effectively—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. Usually 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 horse has varied through the years. In The Curse of Capistrano it was unnamed. Later versions named the horse Tornado/Toronado, or Tempest.

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 Portugese bandits[citation needed]. 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



  • Johnston McCulley's original story "The Curse of Capistrano" was reprinted by Tor books in 1998 under the title The Mark of Zorro. ISBN 978-0-8125-4007-9 A full list of McCulley's Zorro stories can be found here.
  • 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 1891729209
    • Zorro The Master's Edition Volume Two (1944–1946) January 2002 ISBN 1891729217
    • Zorro The Master's Edition: A Task For Zorro (1947) July 2002 ISBN 1891729314
  • 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
  • Isabel Allende gave her interpretation of the Zorro legend in her 2005 fictional biography Zorro. ISBN 978-0-06-077897-2
  • Gerard Ronan's Biography of William Lamport "The Irish Zorro" was published by Brandon Books in 2004. ISBN 978-0863223297.
  • 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:
    • The Legend of Zorro By Bill Yenne 1991 Mallard Press ISBN 978-0-7924-5547-9
    • Zorro Unmasked The Official History by Sandra Curtis 1998 Hyperion ISBN 978-0-7868-8285-4
    • Tales of Zorro anthology edited by Richard Dean Starr 2008 Moonstone Books ISBN 978-1-933076-31-7


The character has been adapted for over forty films.[2] They include:

Film serials



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:

  • 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 978-1-58240-014-3
  • Zorro The Dailies - The First Year By Don McGregor, Thomas Yeates. Image Comics 2001. ISBN 1582402396

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 mythos, 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.

Stage Productions

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, whose recent UK and Broadway credits include The King and I and We Will Rock You, Zorro features the choreography of internationally renowned 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. Alice Cooper also mentions Zorro in the song "The King Of The Silver Screen".

Computer and video games


Although not completely original in its concept, Zorro is one of the earliest precursors of the superhero of American comic books, being an independently wealthy person who has a secret identity (as with Spring Heeled Jack and The Scarlet Pimpernel) which he defends by wearing a mask, and who accomplishes good for the people with his superior fighting abilities and resourcefulness. Zorro became a key inspiration for the characters The Phantom, The Lone Ranger, Batman, the Green Arrow, Doc Savage, and other non-superpower-endowed pulp fiction and comic-strip action heroes.[citation needed]

The Mark of Zorro was one of many works that inspired comic book artist Bob Kane when he created the Batman character in 1939. This inspiration has been worked into the comics themselves, establishing that The Mark of Zorro was the film which the young Bruce Wayne watched with his parents at the cinema the night he witnessed their murders.

Queen of Swords is an action-adventure television series, made after the feature film The Mask of Zorro (1998), set in Spanish California during the early 19th century that ran for one season, from 2000 to 2001. It featured a protagonist who demonstrates many aspects of the Zorro character, including the black costume with a red sash, the swordfighting skills of the rapier and dagger in the Spanish mysterious circle (Destreza) style [7], the dagger in the boot, use of a whip, a gypsy servant (also a woman), and horse riding skills. Filmed at Texas Hollywood, Almeria, Spain. Sony unsuccessfully sued Fireworks Entertainment.[8]

Popular culture

Texas Tech's The Masked Rider is similar to Zorro
  • 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 1950s Looney Tunes cartoon short The Scarlet Pumpernickel, a cartoon homage to the swashbuckler genre, Daffy Duck takes on a costumed appearance and swashbuckling persona in line with that of Zorro, with cape, sword, horse and mask.
  • 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).
  • In Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Strikes Again Batman uses the sharp edge of his new cape to carve a Zorro style Z in to Lex Luthor's face. Also, in the prequel ("Batman : The Dark Knight Returns"), Bruce Wayne gets out of retirement and becomes Batman again, when watching "The Mark Of Zorro" on television.
  • 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 Asterix comic book album "Asterix and Caesar's Gift" Asterix duels with a Roman and makes the iconic Z mark on his tunic.
  • In the movie Amélie, (Audrey Tautou) dresses herself up as Zorro when she photographs herself for a boy with whom she is in love.
  • Zorro appeared in the Robot Chicken episode "Werewolf VS Unicorn" voiced by Seth Green. During Arnold Schwarzenegger's public service announcement about the Mexican Illegal Alien issue, Zorro is seen arrested after he left his mark on a store wall moments after he broke up a robbery.
  • The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show featured a mysterious character called "The Mark of Zero". His trademark is stamping the numeral 0 in unexpected places.
  • In the anime series One Piece the character Roronoa Zoro was thought to have been named after him, due to his preferred weapon (swords) and how when he intends to fight seriously he ties a bandana on his head, casting a black shadow over his eyes alluding to Zorro's mask. He is also extremely cocky and arrogant.
  • In the 2004 movie A Cinderella Story, the character Carter Farrell dresses up as Zorro for the Halloween Homecoming Dance.
  • 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. The character was probably meant to be a relative of Zorro.
  • Many television characters have dressed in Zorro costumes, including on the programs Smallville, That 70s Show, Family Matters, Sesame Street, The Bob Newhart Show, and The Simpsons.
  • In the Italian music video Discomusic, by Elio e le Storie Tese, a wish expessed by the main character in a subway (I wish to be like Zorro...Zorrozorrozorrozorrro...I wish to be on the par of Zorro...zorrozorro)[9] results in almost every character in the video being turned into Zorro look-alikes, with comedic effects.


  1. ^ All-Story Weekly vol. 100 #2 (August 9, 1919) - vol. 101 #2 (September 6, 1919)
  2. ^ Zorro Productions, Inc. : The latest news from the world of Zorro
  3. ^ Maltin, Leonard, Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide 2007 Edition, Plume, 2006, pp. 1519 & 1181.
  4. ^ Zorro: Generation Z
  6. ^ Zorro (Sinclair ZX Spectrum computer game)
  7. ^ retrieved March 9, 2010 [1]
  8. ^ Retrieved November 15, 2009
  9. ^ Translated from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KR2nBZj1JtA, in original Voglio essero come Zorro...Zorrozorrozorrozorrro...Voglio essere all'altezza di Zorro...zorrozorro

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



From Spanish zorro (fox).

Proper noun

Out of the night, when the full moon is bright,
Comes the horseman known as Zorro.
This bold renegade carves a Z with his blade,
A Z that stands for Zorro.
Zorro, Zorro, the fox so cunning and free,
Zorro, Zorro, who makes the sign of the Z.
He is polite, but the wicked take flight
When they catch the sight of Zorro.
He's friend of the weak,
And the poor and the meek,
This very unique senior Zorro. Zorro, Zorro, the fox so cunning and free,
Zorro, Zorro, who makes the sign of the Z.
Zorro, Zorro, Zorro, Zorro, Zorro.




  1. Fictional character created in 1919 by pulp writer Johnston McCulley.


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