Don Diamond

Born in Brooklyn on June 4th, 1921, Don's father, who was born in Russia, served in the U.S. Army in the First World War and was awarded the Purple Heart and the Silver Star medals. His mother was born in New Jersey. As a teenager, she won the New Jersey Typewriter Championship. They were excellent parents who encouraged their son to earn some money selling soda pop at the local ballpark, mowing lawns and shoveling snow. Don studied drama at the University of Michigan, where he waited tables and scrubbed pots in order to finance his studies, eventually graduating with a B.A. degree. During the summers he was a waiter at children's and adult camps. He learned some Spanish while serving in the U.S. Military in the Southwest as well as increasing his understanding of the Mexican culture. Diamond made his motion picture debut in Borderline, 1950, playing the role of Deusik. He subsequently went on to appear in over 25 other films and over 100 television series, sometimes in multiple appearances.

Don was honorably discharged from the service in 1946 as a first lieutenant. Breaking into radio acting, he gained a reputation as an excellent portrayer of Latins and Mexicans. This led to his co-starring role in 104 episodes of The Adventures of Kit Carson as El Toro, Carson's sidekick. Of this experience he recalls, "It was a pleasure to work with the late Bill Williams, but the two-day schedule of each half hour show was very tough. The horses couldn't read the scripts. We became so tired at the end of a long day that upon fluffing our lines, he and I would break into uncontrollable laughter and they would have to shoot the scene over and over again. One time the director told me to do the Mexican stereotype by sitting at the base of a large cactus and feign sleeping. In spite of the fact that I had no power or money, I defied the director and refused to malign any group, for instance, Mexicans."

El Toro
Corporal Reyes

In Zorro, Don Diamond played the often befuddled Corporal Reyes. He appeared in 50 of the episodes mostly taking orders from Sgt. Garcia. His addition to the Zorro cast in 1958 added an extra element of comedy by doing the reverse lines off of Henry Calvin. Don's first Zorro episode is titled Garcia Stands Accused. "In the late 1950's, I didn't get a running role when they screen tested the first Zorro show. In episode eight, I did a bit as a Spanish lancer. Subsequently they tested for a corporal to be a foil for Sergeant Garcia. I won the screen test, downplaying the role because I knew Mr. Disney wanted Garcia to get the big laughs. I enjoyed working with Guy Williams and Henry Calvin. We truly became close friends", Don recalls.

Mr. Diamond's true talent lies as much in the vocal as in the physical side of acting. He speaks fluent Spanish and can simulate in excess of 20 authentic dialects from all over the world. He has been much in demand for providing the voices of characters in cartoons and can truly be called "The Man of a Thousand Voices". He lent his voice to the Zorro cartoon series as Sgt. Gonzalez and also the cartoon Tijuana Toads as Toro and Texas Toads as Fatso. He has appeared in such shows as The Virginian, The Flying Nun, The Immortal, The Wild, Wild West, The Lone Ranger, The Streets of San Francisco, Mission Impossible, CHIPS, Police Story, Barnaby Jones, Columbo, Adam 12, LA Law, and even Zorro and Son!

Corporal Reyes?
Crazy Cat

From 1965 to 1967 you may remember Don as Chief Wild Eagle's sidekick, Crazy Cat of the Hekawi tribe in F-Troop, a very popular comedy Western series. He recalls, "I broke the stereotype of the deep bass voice Indian and did Crazy Cat in a high pitched voice. The role caught on. The series was a total farce with a heavy emphasis on physical humor and marvelous caricatures. Don appeared in 50 episodes.

Not too long ago, for recreation, Don played four-wall handball at the YMCA three times a week. He has been a member there for 45 consecutive years. He reads a lot, is an enthusiastic amateur radio operator and loves to tell jokes in English and Spanish. Of his family he says, "My wife Louisa is a Spanish teacher. She's from Mexico." They have been married for over 30 years.

Me and Don at the Hollywood Collectors Show

Update: Sadly, we lost our beloved Corporal Reyes on June 19th, 2011. He was 90 years old. In addition to his wife Louisa, Don is survived by his brother, sister, daughter, two step-daughters, two step-grandchildren and two step-great-grandchildren. He'll be forever in our hearts.