“The Zorro story, invented in 1919 by pulp fiction author Johnston McCulley, tells the tale of an aristocrat in Spanish California who dons a mask to fight against corrupt colonial officials on behalf of the oppressed,” writes Marlon Bishop of Latino USA.
Don Diego de la Vega (AKA Zorro) listens from the balcony of the hacienda as teenage Annette Funicello sings Lonely Guitar. This clip comes from the 1959 TV episode called The Missing Father later distributed by Disney on VHS as The Mystery of Don Cabrillo. RIP.
Zorro’s Fighting Legion is a 1939 Republic Pictures serial featuring Reed Hadley as Zorro. The plot revolves around Zorro’s alter-ego’s (Don Diego‘s) fight against the evil Don Del Oro, who wants to become Emperor of Mexico.
An occasional trope in this serial is the ritual death of at least one native informant, much like the death of a red-shirted Star Trek Away Team newbie. The direction was identical for each snitch’s demise, creating a source of unintentional humor: each one, upon uttering the phrase, “Don del Oro is…”, is shot by a golden arrow and dies before revealing the villain’s true identity.
Here’s Chapter 2, Flaming Z. (0:15 mins)