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Before the revolution brought about by the "adult" Westerns or 1955+ (Gunsmoke, Maverick, etc, the one's as a young boy I liked best) there were the kiddie Westerns: Wild Bill Hickock, The Range Rider, Buffalo Bill Jnr, The Lone Ranger and The Cisco Kid. Based (supposedly) on an O. Henry story, there was probably more kinship with Don Quixote and Sancho Panza - and formulaic B-Westerns of the '30s and '40s. One thing set this apart from others of their ilk: I met Duncan Reynaldo! I was a very young boy but I still treasure the memory of this friendly kind gentleman.
The cries, "Hey, Poncho! Hey, Cisco" are something none of us who grew
up with this TV western will ever get out of heads and why should we?
This western, I believe, is the second one I ever recall watching (after "The Range Rider") and the first recall with great fondness and a knowledge that a lot of people also liked this show. They had to, to have it run six years.
To be honest, I remember the Cisco Kid's partner, "Pancho" (Leo Carillo) more than I remember him, although Duncan Renaldo is not forgettable. He was a charismatic good guy, a real straight arrow and a great role model for small kids. I was the perfect age (6-12) to enjoy these episodes of a western that was made more for us in mind than adults.
Pancho, if I recall, mainly provided comedy relief...and that was fine with us kids. We loved him. You couldn't ask for a more loyal sidekick, even if he wasn't the most brilliant person.
I used to have a television that occasionally got a weak signal station
from Fort Erie, Ontario over here in Buffalo. And I got to relive a
little childhood seeing episodes of Cisco Kid and the Lone Ranger.
Unlike the Ranger all of Cisco's stuff was in color. Great foresight because a whole lot of westerns that were done in black and white can't be given away now.
Cisco was quite the guy. A gentleman always, a righter of wrongs, and an amazingly tolerant guy to keep Pancho around. Unlike Tonto who was really useful to the Lone Ranger, I think Cisco kept Pancho around for laughs. He was slow on the uptake, but devoted to Cisco, and someone you didn't have to worry about betraying you.
I thought and still Cisco was great. Many friends in my age group and slightly older who are of Latino background told me how much Cisco meant to them as a role model. He was such a good guy, I wonder what he did that made him an outlaw in the first place.
O Henry spent much time in border towns on the American side and in old Mexico himself. In writing The Caballero's Way and introducing us to Cisco, he gave us another universal hero. Cisco will be syndication 100 years from now.
Duncan Renaldo and Leo Carrillo were a couple of Hollywood veterans with substantial credits. But they will always be known as the Cisco Kid and Pancho.
By the way, did Pancho have a last name?
I remember the TV series fondly. One of the Connecticut TV stations ran
reruns in the late 1960s/early 1970s. I enjoyed it as a child. I just
picked up a bargain DVD with several episodes. Nothing is the same as
an adult as when you first saw something as a child or teenager but
these hold up well.
Some may see some ethnic stereotyping. Isn't that true for too many things coming out of an earlier era. I would be interested in reading the O. Henry story. Remember the dime novels of the late 1800s/early 1900s led into the shorts and westerns of the early decades of American films.
Fell in love with the show when I was four years old, and never stopped
loving it. I always felt that Cisco and Pancho were the ideal
men--caring, brave, and gallant, protecting defenseless victims,
sending their rewards to mission orphans, etc.
The early shows mentioned O. Henry, as in "O. Henry's Cisco Kid"--I have always wanted to know the name of the book or short story that contained the Cisco Kid. The story is not in any of my O. Henry collections, so maybe it went out of print. Also, it would be nice to know who wrote the lovely theme music, and if it's currently available.
The show was also notable, to me, for not using women characters only as victims--often, women were just as devious, villainous, and able as the men with whom they were associated.
Who can forget these two cavalier Mexican heroes, The Cisco Kid, played by the dashingly handsome Duncan Renaldo and Pancho, his loyal sidekick, played wonderfully by Leo Carillo. When I was a boy, the "Cisco Kid" was a weekly series and I never missed it. Both of these actors are long buried and mostly forgotten. The message they delivered to their young audiences each week was the same message delivered by so many other oater serials of the day; always stand up for the rights of the underdog. If your friends and neighbors need help, it's up to you and other good people to come to their assistance. After all, it's the honorable thing to do. Although Renaldo and Carillo faded into relative obscurity in the years following their T.V. series, I'm sure they went to their final rewards feeling a large measure of satisfaction for the positive affect that their little t.v. program had on the lives of so many youngsters during their formative years.
I enjoyed the Cisco Kid TV series very much when I was a kid.I frankly don't see why anyone could take offense at either of the leads. Unlike most comic reliefs,Pancho was very formidable when the chips were down. As far as O'Henry's original story,it is easily found.There was a set of books published between l900 and l9l0 with his collected stories which was printed in vast numbers which has everything he ever wrote;any large library should have it.However,the character in the story has absolutely nothing to do with the movie and TV character.He was an Anglo,not a Latino. Far more important, the character of the story was a depraved homicidal maniac,as well as an outlaw."It was the Kid's pastime to shoot Mexicans for the pleasure of watching them kick".That is as near as I can get from memory.I was pretty surprised when I first read this. As Kenneth MacGowan said in "Behind the Screen" about the movie character vs O'Henry's original creation "how this degenerate sadist" was turned into the familiar hero is anybody's guess.Some unknown scriptwriter apparently. The movie and TV figure is certainly a "Robin Hood of the Old West",but not O'Henry's. I believe that the story is to be found in the volume "The Heart of the West", but it might be in one of the others.
I remember when I was little that I was just glued to this show. One of the 1st westerns that I remember seeing, and I've seen just about all of them. I haven't seen this show for years and it would be nice to see it again sometime.
When I was about eight years old, my parents worked at a tomato
processing plant in Indiana. We lived in "company" housing that was
mainly comprised of Mexican workers. During that late summer and early
fall, many of my playmates were Mexican. Cowboy stars were all the
rage. Their favorite western character was the Cisco Kid. Both the
Cisco Kid and his partner, Pancho, were played by true Mexican
Americans. Often they would even converse in Spanish. One episode in
particular, "The Phony Sheriff," has one of the rustlers telling Cisco
and Pancho to speak English. Cisco retorts, "What's the matter? You
don't like Spanish?" Even the comical sidekick, Pancho, was not really
the Mexican stereotype usually seen in Hollywood movies and on TV at
the time. So the Cisco Kid series was a real boost for positive
Loosely based on a character created by famed short-story writer, O. Henry, Cisco became "The Robin Hood Of The Old West" for the movies and this long-running TV series. Duncan Renaldo and Leo Carrillo were veteran Hollywood actors who gave life to the character each played. There was the usual assortment of reliable character actors to add to the enjoyment of watching the show. And the scripts were usually first-rate for a TV shoot-'em-up aimed at all the small fries plopped down in front of the tube. Highly recommended for those old enough to remember the early days of TV and passable entertainment for those not yet born when the series ran on television. Color is an added bonus, since most of the TV westerns of the day, including The Roy Rogers Show, were filmed in black and white.
Here's "O. Henry's famous Robin Hood of the Old West!" Duncan Renaldo,
The Cisco Kid of TV was a much more stand-up, stalwart hero than the
short story character. Righting wrongs and doing good with his pal,
Pancho Miguel Fernando Gonzalez de Conejo(Leo Carillo), Cisco was a
model of right for a generation of wee cowpokes. Great low-budget
nostalgic, formulaic kiddie western fun! And it's all in color,
indicative of the foresight of the production company when TV was in
it's infancy and a color set couldn't be had as yet!
MPI Video has compiled four DVD collections of 20 episodes each. That's just over half of the 156 episodes! Where are the rest, I wanna know?!? The color and quality are superb given the age of these shows, with great menus and all the stirring theme music and narration adding to the action and comic fun. Highly recommended!
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