Guy Williams leaves his
mark as star of TV's "Zorro"

His young fans will never believe it, but Guy Williams almost missed getting the starring role in the tv series, Zorro, because, of all reasons, he fell off a horse! No, it didn't happen while he was auditioning. As a matter of fact, it happened four years before Zorro began his Thursday night deeds of derring-do on ABC-TV.

In 1952, tall, darkly handsome Guy Williams was a New York model and TV actor who looked so promising in a Hollywood screen test that he got a movie contract. In the year that followed, he played bits in half a dozen films, but nary a major role loomed on the horizon. Then Guy fell off a horse, and he had had it. More than his ego was bruised now, so no more Hollywood for him, he decided.

Guy Williams
Guy Williams
Zorro to the rescue
Zorro and Tornado
Back to New York he went to resume as a model and on TV. By 1957, Guy's pride.. .and... er... person had recovered from his fall off the horse, and he was back in Hollywood. Almost immediately he got the break of his career when Walt Disney chose him to play Zorro, which ironically, Guy's handsome face is obscured by a mask in one facet of the dual role he plays. Aside from his physical characteristics, (he's 6 foot 3, weighs 185 and is a mustached, sideburned charmer), Guy has another great asset for the role of Zorro. He is one of the movie town's most expert fencers.

Guy, whose real name is Armand Catalano, is the son of the late Attilio Catalano, a New York insurance broker who had learned to fence in his native Italy and had interested his son in the sport. After attending grade school and George Washington High School in New York, Guy went to Peekskill Military Academy. "I'm afraid I was a pretty indifferent student", he admits. "I flunked English because I spent a good deal of time gazing at J. P. Morgan's yacht, The Corsair, which was anchored in the Hudson. I think that's when I fell in love with boats."

His schooling complete, Guy couldn't see himself going into his father's business, so he became a model as a stopgap. He met his future wife, Janice Cooper, on a modeling assignment. "We were in a skiing background and the ad pictured me tightening my ski boot. The photographer was a perfectionist and shot this bit about 50 times, and by the time he was satisfied, Janice and I had gotten to know each other pretty well", explains Guy.They were married a month or two later, Guy's a little vague about the date... as he is about his birthdate. "Put down 30," he says, smiling, "that's a good age".

family portrait
Family Portrait
For a young man of 30, Guy has varied interests. Besides being an avid fencer, he has become quite proficient as a guitar player, an art he acquired by way of lessons from world-famed Vincenté Gomez. (In Zorro, Guy does his own fencing and guitar playing and he has also learned to stay on Tornado, his equine co-star... at least in the close--ups.) He is also a chess player, an expert on tropical fish and a better-than-average cook. He is an amateur astronomer and he loves to read and listen to music, his taste in the latter running to Beethoven quartets. But his favorite pastime is sailing his 40-foot ketch. "Acting is what I do for a living," he says, "but what I'd like to do more than anything else in the world, is sail my boat to Tahiti."

While he waits for his ambition to become feasible, Guy and his wife and their two children, Steve, 6, and Toni, 1, live in a two-story Spanish-type apartment close to Hollywood's Sunset Strip.

"Steve never paid too much attention to me on TV," says Guy, in answer to a query, "until some of the kids in his school found out that his father is Zorro. Now he's a racketeer. He makes all kinds of deals. Getting candy, permission to raise the flag and assorted other privileges, in exchange for autographed photos of me".

"One thing I warned him about, though," says Guy seriously, "if he cuts any Z's into things around the house, leaving the kind of mark I do with my sword on the show, I'm going to put the Z on him! I like peace and quiet around the house."

New York Sunday News