Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Classic TV: The Cisco Kid (1950)

"Here's adventure! Here's romance!"

And so began The Cisco Kid, an adaptation of O. Henry's Western novellas, brought to television by Ziv in 1950. The series lasted six seasons, but if you thought Cisco and his sidekick, Pancho, were really heroes as depicted in Henry's original tale, you'd be mistaken.

You see, O. Henry had envisioned Cisco (Duncan Renaldo) as an outlaw. Not only that, but Cisco wasn't really Hispanic, but white. Pancho, methinks, was added for comic relief. The producers cleaned things up, giving the Hispanic audience a heroic role model to rival The Lone Ranger, whose series began a year earlier.

In the 60's, Walter Schwimmer obtained the rights to the series, and removed the Ziv logo in favor of his own, and that is the print you'll see shortly. More recently, the series has aired on This TV and Retro (check your listings), and the rights are currently held by the Peter Rodgers Organization, which also holds the rights to other popular shows such as I Spy and The Rifleman.

The casting was curious in that Leo Carrillo (Pancho) was already 70 when the series began, and Renaldo was pushing 50. TNT didn't exactly bridge the gap with a TV-movie in the 90's, which starred Jimmy Smits (ex-LA Law) as Cisco and Cheech Marin as Pancho. In Marin's case, it was a case where he was shedding the image he'd created with partner Tommy Chong in their comedy act, step by step. I never saw that film, but maybe someday........

Right now, here's the series opener, "Boomerang":

Edit, 4/30/21: Had to change the video. This is an original Ziv print, not reissued by Walter Schwimmer.

Announcer Michael Rye, ironically enough, was the voice of The Lone Ranger in 1966, embarking on an on-again, off-again career in cartoons through the 80's.

Rating: C.


magicdog said...

The suits succeeded since I had alays thought of Cisco as the Mexican Lone Ranger.

I didn't see the show until the 80s or so when it was on cable - CBN I think. I found it interesting.

I didn't realize Carillo was so old! I figured 50 something at most.

hobbyfan said...

Ah, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention War's song, "Cisco Kid", inspired by the show, which was on the charts in the mid 70's.

magicdog said...

I remember that tune! It was used on Wonderama when they had a "Cisco Kidd" segment. The song would play while we viewers saw a kid running around Manhattan with a cowboy hat and a horse costume (looking like he was riding a horse). He'd deliver the song of the week before the disco dance portion of the show began.

hobbyfan said...

Oh, yeah, that was the "Disco Kid", a parody of ol' Cisco.