REACHING as far back into the recess of memory as far as we can go, we arrive in those sections where our mind keeps files on some of our most vivid recollections of how our life went in those primordial, almost prehistoric days. It is at this juncture that our mind has its oldest files. Among the oldest records in this veritable Newspaper Morgue of the Mind are such entries as; General Douglas MacArthur's Televised appearance before the joint assembly of the Senate and the House of Representatives, sparkling white Good Humor Ice Cream Trucks, 'Old Time Steam Locomotives, a Blimp flying high circles over the neighborhood with a loud speaker loudly proclaiming,"I LIKE IKE!"*
ON the subject Pop Culture we find such interesting we find 'entries' such as the Chicago White Sox of Paul Richards, Nellie Fox, Minnie Minoso, Billy Pierce and Al Zarilla. (No Cubs). The Chicago Sunday American with Hearst's Puck, the Comic Weekly; Jack Armstrong on our Radio; the Morris B. Sachs Amateur Hour (Local TV), Mayor Martin Kenelly (Before any Daley) and the Sealtest Big Top on CBS are all among fond recollections.
PROMINENT among these varied memories, as big as life and always vivid is that early Bubble Gum Western TV Series of THE CISCO KID (Ziv Television Productions, 1950-56).
LIKE any other kiddie Western, it had stories featuring stage coach hold-ups, cattle rustlers, bank robbers, prospectors, claim jumpers, school marms, tenderfoot newcomers, bush-wackers, dry-gulchers and gangs of blood-thirsty renegades, outlaws and guys who talk and giggle in lines while going into school!
WHAT set THE CISCO KID Show apart from Gene, Roy, Hoppy and the Masked Man was that the two heroes in the lead were Spanish speakers from South of the Border. Portrayal of the twosome or "Caballeros Mexicanos" was provided by two veterans of Hollywood's Golden Era in Duncan Renaldo (Cisco) and the Aristocratic Californian, Leo Carillo (Pancho). The two men functioned in a seemingly flawless manner together in matters of action, suspense and mystery. They were also very adept at handling the comic relief material with Renaldo's playing the Straight Man to Carillo's Stooge.
ALTHOUGH their dialogue was spoken in English, they maintained an authentic Mexican accent; which in the case of the then septuagenarian Leo Carillo was a theatrical affectation. Frequent fracturing of English was a source of comedy, much as the Vaudeville Stage and the Movies had mad use of ethnic malaprop and their comical soundings with German, Italian, Irish, Scandinavian, Black, Asian and what have you.
LIKE any other self respecting Western Series stars, both Cisco and Pancho had colorfully named Horses (or if you prefer the more Politically Correct ,'Equestrian Animal Companions). Just as Roy Rogers and Dale Evans had Trigger and Buttermilk; The Lone Ranger and Tonto had Silver and Scout; Gene Autry had Champion and Hopalong Cassidy his Topper; so too Cisco and Pancho had their Diablo and Loco; translated literally as 'Devil' and 'Crazy'.
AT the age that we were at the time of the series heyday, our young 4 to 6 year old memory had no previous knowledge or contact with Cisco's saga. Our very first experience was on the Tube. There was no evidence that the Cisco Kid had been done in the movies; dating back to Warner Baxter's portrayal in the early talking film IN OLD ARIZONA (Fox Film Corporation, 1928)
FOLLOWING that he had such names as Caesar Romero and Gilbert Roland had put in time in the part. The character of Pancho (Sometimes called by nickname "Gordito", literally "Little Fat One") was usually portrayed by Mexican-American Actor, Chris Pin-Martin. The studios that had the movie series was originally, like the CHARLIE CHAN Series, 20th Century-Fox. Just the same as the CHANS, CISCO KID passed from 20th Century-Fox to Monogram; where the roles in the now definitely "B" Movie Series passed from Messers. Roland and Pin-Martin to the Renaldo-Carillo Team for the last of the Theatrical releases.
MOVING the characters to Television and Ziv TV Productions, both parts stayed with Senores Renaldo y Carillo; but the character backgrounds of the two had to conveniently leave out that Cisco and Pancho were wanted men, desperadoes. Oh sure, they always were helpful, trustworthy, helpful, etc. But the new medium of broadcast television surely would not allow for a family oriented series to have such good-bad guys.
THE situation was handled much in the same manner as Ziv Productions had developed their BOSTON BLACKIE TV Series by never mentioning that Blackie had a past. Their Kent Taylor version was more of a Private Detective helping Inspector Faraday (Frank Orth); whereas Columbia Pictures' Chester Morris/Blackie, reformed former jewel thief & safe cracker, was always under suspicion to Inspector Faraday (Richard Lane).
UNLIKE most series that made use of more inexpensive pre-recorded stock music, THE CISCO KID had a musical score with both incidental music (aka cues) as well as its Opening Theme and Signature were unique to the show. By one Albert Glasser were lively, rhythmic, hauntingly beautiful and most memorable. The overall style appears to be have been inspired by authentic Mexican themes, both of the classical variety and traditional folk music.
MAKING an obvious reference to both the literate origin of Cisco and of his outside the law status, the voice-over of the announcer proclaimed in the opening something like; ,,,,,
Here's O. Henry's famous Robin Hood of the Old West, THE CISCO KID!" And do you know what? We had no idea of who O. Henry was. Personally, I always thought that they were referring to the Oh Henry Candy Bar! Hey Schultz, do they still make those Oh Henry Bars?
NOTE: * We lived about a half-mile due-east of the Chicago's International Amphitheater; location of the 1952 Republican National Convention.
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