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Guy Williams (actor)

guy williams (actor), guy williams actor zorro
Guy Williams, born Armando Joseph Catalano January 14, 1924 – c April 30, 19891 was an Italian-American actor and former fashion model He usually played swashbuckling action heroes in the 1950s and 1960s, but never quite achieved movie-star status,2 despite his appearance including hazel eyes, 6′ 3″ 1m90 height, and 190 lb 86 kg weight and charisma, which helped launch his early successful photographic modeling career

Among his most notable achievements were two TV series: Zorro, in the title role and Lost in Space, as the father of the Robinson family The sci-fi TV program was popular, noted for the design of the sleek silver spacesuits, which Guy Williams wore in many publicity photos His hobbies included: astronomy, chess, music mostly classical, fencing, tropical fish, and sailing: he owned a 40-foot 12m ketch called The Oceana

During most of the 1970s Guy Williams frequently visited and worked in television shows in Argentina, where he was most revered3 He retired in the early 1980s near Buenos Aires, where he died of a brain aneurysm in 1989


  • 1 Biography
    • 11 Early life
    • 12 First artistic steps
    • 13 Early Hollywood 1952–1957
    • 14 Zorro 1957–1959, 1960–1961
    • 15 Bonanza 1964
    • 16 Lost in Space 1965–1968
    • 17 Retirement in Argentina 1979–1989
    • 18 Death
  • 2 Homages
  • 3 References
  • 4 External links


Early lifeedit

Guy Williams was born of Sicilian parentage on January 14, 1924, as Armand Joseph Catalano in the Washington Heights area of New York City His parents, insurance broker Attilio and Clare Catalano, were from the Island of Sicily, and were by then living in poverty He grew up in Brooklyn's Little Italy neighborhood and was called Armando the Italian version of his name by his family Attilio was the son of a wealthy timber grower in Messina who purchased land in New Jersey

In NYC's Public School 189, Armand stood out in mathematics Later he attended George Washington High School, where he occasionally worked in its soda fountain He then left to attend the Peekskill Military Academy where he was an enthusiastic student His interests included football and chess

First artistic stepsedit

Armand wanted to be an actor, spurred by his good looks and 6'3" height When he decided not to continue studying, his mother, who later became an executive of a foreign film company, was disappointed because it was expected that he would follow in his father's footsteps as an insurance brokercitation needed

After working as a welder, cost accountant and aircraft-parts inspector during World War II, Armand became a salesman in the luggage department at Wanamaker's While there, he decided to send his photos to a modeling agency He quickly found great success with assignments resulting in photographs in newspapers and magazines, including Harper's Bazaar, as well as on billboards and book covers He was paid well and became famouscitation needed He then adopted the name "Guy Williams" 1940s

In 1946, he signed a single-year contract offered by MGM and moved to Hollywood Williams had a featured role as a pilot in the film The Beginning or the End 1947, about the first US deployed atom bomb He appeared in only a few films and soon moved back to New York

In 1948, to advertise cigarettes while skiing, Williams did an extensive filming trip accompanied by Janice Cooper, a beautiful John Robert Powers model During the long photographic sessions, they fell in love, marrying on December 8, just after they returned to New York City They had two children, Guy Steven Catalano aka Guy Williams, Jr and Antoinette Catalano aka Toni Williams, both became actors

By 1950, Williams was filming some of the pioneering television commercials in the USA His father died in 1951, never to witness his son's full rise to fame In 1952, Williams obtained a new one-year contract with Universal-International and moved to Hollywood

Early Hollywood 1952–1957edit

Guy Williams appeared in small supporting roles in films, including:

  • Bonzo Goes to College 1952 – as Ronald Calkins,
  • The Mississippi Gambler 1953 – as Andre
  • The Golden Blade 1953 – as Baghdad's town crier
  • The Man from the Alamo 1953 – as a sergeant
  • Take Me to Town 1953 – as a small hero
  • I Was a Teenage Werewolf 1957 – as police officer

In 1953, he suffered a serious accident when he fell from a horse and was dragged over 200 yards, resulting in a long scar on his left shoulder Because of this he returned to New York to continue acting and modeling there and temporarily abandoned his film career In 1953, he left Universal and became a freelancer for movies produced by Allied Artists and Warner Brothers

Zorro 1957–1959, 1960–1961edit

Early in 1957, Williams appeared twice in the role of Steve Clay in the syndicated television series, Men of Annapolis, a military drama set at the United States Naval Academy He also appeared in the Rod Cameron drama State Trooper in the episode "No Fancy Cowboys" about the defrauding of guests at a dude ranch

About this time, the Walt Disney Company was casting for Disney's Zorro, a new television series based on the character To play the main character, the chosen actor would have to be handsome and have some experience with fencing Walt Disney himself interviewed Guy Williams, telling him to start growing a mustache "neither very long or thick" The exclusive contract paid Williams the then very high wage of $2,500 per week, as he had demanded Williams resumed his professional training in fencing with the Belgian champion Fred Cavens who also trained Douglas Fairbanks, Errol Flynn and Tyrone Power, since the show required sword fights in most episodes He also took guitar lessons with the famous Vicente Gomez

Williams's first appearance as Zorro was on the Disney anthology television series "The Fourth Anniversary Show", wherein he challenged the notion that Zorro was a "fictional character"

The series of half-hour episodes finally debuted on ABC on October 10, 1957 It was an instant hit in the USA

Seventy-eight episodes were produced over two seasons 1957–1959, and two movies were edited from TV episodes: The Sign of Zorro 1958 and Zorro the Avenger 1959 The theme song was composed by Norman Foster and George Bruns and performed by The Mellomen; it reached #17 on the Hit Parade In 1959, a legal dispute arose between Disney and ABC, causing a hiatus and the eventual cancellation of Zorro However, four hour-long episodes were later produced with the original primary cast, including Williams These episodes were released as part of the Walt Disney Presents series between October 30, 1960, and April 12, 1961

On March 5, 1959, as Zorro was ending its original run, Williams was a guest star, along with Sally Brophy and Tom Nolan, on NBC's The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford4

In 1962, Williams played Sir Miles Hendon in the Walt Disney's The Prince and the Pauper, which was shot in England

After finishing his contract with Disney, Guy Williams went to Europe to film two movies:

  • Damon and Pythias MGM production filmed in Italy in 1962, directed by Curtis Bernhardt, as Damon, the classic Greek hero who offers his life as warrant of the word of Pythias, his friend who has been condemned to death for political reasons;
  • Captain Sindbad MGM production filmed in Germany in 1962, directed by the American adventure director Byron Haskin, based on the classic tale of the Arabian Nights, in the role of Sindbad the Sailor

Bonanza 1964edit

In 1964, Guy Williams returned to Hollywood to resume his career, being added to the cast of the NBC's hit TV series Bonanza as Ben's nephew Will Cartwright Williams found himself forced out of the series after only five episodes, despite being originally slated to become one of the four permanent leads He was originally to replace Pernell Roberts Adam Cartwright, who had planned to leave the show at the end of that season, thus allowing the format with four regular leads to continue

Roberts decided late in the season to stay for one more year This, plus the cast's concern that replacement of a regular character might create a threatening precedent, cost Williams the role

Lost in Space 1965–1968edit

Williams and June Lockhart in Lost in Space

In 1965, Guy Williams returned to weekly television in the popular CBS science-fiction family series Lost In Space

Guy Williams played Professor John Robinson, expert in astrophysics and geology, who commanded the mission of the Jupiter 2 spaceship, taking his family in a voyage to colonize the Alpha Centauri star system

Retirement in Argentina 1979–1989edit

After Lost in Space, Guy Williams decided to retire in order to better enjoy his wealth, which had been largely generated by investments in several businesses, buying and selling on the stock market When Guy had first visited Argentina in 1973 he was quite taken by the admiration and fascination the Argentine people expressed for him and his character of 'El Zorro' In return, Guy fell in love with the culture and people of Argentina In the late 1970s he retired, except for personal appearances, to Recoleta, an upscale neighborhood of Buenos Aires

In subsequent years, Guy Williams also brought to Argentina some of the original cast members of the Zorro series, including Henry Calvin who played Sergeant Garcia Williams even formed a circus Circo Real Madrid with the local fencing champion -and later actor- Fernando Lupiz, traveling all over South America 1977

In 1983, Williams returned to Los Angeles for two final television appearances He joined Lost in Space cast members June Lockhart, Angela Cartwright, Bob May and Marta Kristen for two celebrity episodes of Family Feud, against the casts of Batman and Gilligan's Island respectively56 He later appeared as a guest on Good Morning America7


Later in 1989, while spending solitary months in Argentina, Williams disappeared The local police searched his apartment in Recoleta on May 6, 1989,8 finding his body Owing to his great popularity in Argentina, his ashes lay for two years at the Argentine Actors' Society cemetery at La Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires In 1991, in accordance with his wishes, Williams's ashes were spread over the Pacific Ocean in Malibu, California


  • In 2000, Williams was the first local celebrity inducted into the Bronx Walk of Fame, of New York City He was represented at the ceremony by his son, Steven Catalono Guy Williams Jr910
  • In 2001, August 2, he was posthumously granted a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, at 7080 Hollywood Blvd, after petitions from thousands of his fans in front of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce in 200011
  • In October 2002, the fans of Williams, with his children Steven and Toni in attendance, dedicated to him a bench in New York's Central Park
  • In August 2003, Disney enterprise placed a commemorative badge dedicated to Williams in the mansion of the Mission San Luis Rey de Francia at Oceanside, California, where the Zorro series was filmed in 1957
  • In 2011, Williams was named a Disney Legend
  • The impression of a US Postage Stamp commemorative of Guy Williams was cancelled due to the change of the US Postal Service's protocol, though the fans had been campaigning for the stamp since 1998

A number of books have been written which feature Williams, particularly in his role as Zorro This includes the Zorro Television Companion, detailing the making of Disney series,12 as well as a biography by Antoinette Girgenti Lane, Guy Williams: The Man Behind the Mask 200513

A collection of original Zorro short stories, some inspired specifically by Guy Williams, was edited by Richard Dean Starr and released in 2008 It includes an introduction by Guy Williams, Jr with Matthew Baugh and an afterword by Isabel Allende14 The cover art on the trade paperback edition by Douglas Klauba was an homage to Guy Williams


  1. ^ "A Brief Biography of Guy Williams" The Guy Williams Webshrine Retrieved October 17, 2013 His body was found on Saturday May 6, 1989 but he had already been dead for a number of days; he was last seen alive on April 30; his death date has often been reported as May 7, but this was already a day after his body was found, and probably almost a week after he actually died 
  2. ^ "Guy Williams Filmography" The New York Times Retrieved October 17, 2013 
  3. ^ The final pirouette of the authentic Zorro, by Marcelo Raimon Página/12 in Spanish
  4. ^ "The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show" ctvabiz Retrieved November 25, 2010 
  5. ^ Family Feud: Batman Vs Lost in Space YouTube
  6. ^ Family Feud: Gilligan's Island Vs Lost in Space YouTube
  7. ^ "Guy Williams" Actordatabasecom Retrieved August 1, 2013 
  8. ^ Lee, John H May 8, 1989 "Guy Williams, `Zorro' of TV Series, Dies at 65" Los Angeles Times Retrieved October 17, 2013 
  9. ^ Nina Siegal May 28, 2000 "Fan of a Masked TV Swashbuckler Makes His Mark" The New York Times Retrieved September 6, 2011 
  10. ^ Jose Martinez May 19, 2000 "Zorro Slashes Grand Concourse Walk Of Fame Adds Buy Williams" New York Daily News Archived from the original on June 14, 2012 Retrieved September 6, 2011 
  11. ^ "'Zorro' gets Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame" Telegraph Herald August 5, 2001 p 9 Retrieved September 6, 2011 
  12. ^ Dooley, Jerry 2005 The Zorro Television Companion: A Critical Appreciation McFarland & Company ISBN 0786420588 
  13. ^ Girgenti Lane, Antoinette 2005 Guy Williams: The Man Behind the Mask BearManor Media ISBN 978-1593930165 
  14. ^ Starr, Richard Dean 2008 Tales Of Zorro Moonstone ISBN 978-1933076317 

External linksedit

  • Guy Williams on Disney Wiki
  • Official Guy Williams Family Page
  • Guy Williams Webshrine
  • Zorro with Annette Funicello on YouTube
  • Guy Williams in Argentina
  • Guy Williams – From Zorro to Lost in Space

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