Today is the birthday of the great Leo Carrillo (for more on this pioneering entertainer go here). My first exposure to Carrillo was on the tv show The Cisco Kid, one of the very first television programs I can recall watching. (Though the show was produced from 1950 through 1956, I watched it in reruns in the early 70s. ) The Cisco Kid was a pre-existing franchise, already having seen movie and radio versions. Carrillo played Pancho, the Cisco Kid’s funny sidekick. Amazing to realize that when the show began filming in 1949 Carrillo was already 70 years old; he disguises it well on the show. But then sidekicks are always geezers. Carrillo and his co-star Duncan Renaldo were the first Hispanic television stars. The irony is that Carrillo played the most heinous Mexican stereotype conceivable — yet he was of aristocratic stock, his ancestors were among the founders of California. Wealthy, educated people, not ignorant banditos. Ah, but Carrillo came out of vaudeville…read about his beginnings here.
The Cisco Kid