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A Brief Biography of Guy Williams
Guy was born Armando Catalano to Italian immigrant parents on 14 January 1924
in the Bronx,
New York, USA. He grew up in the Washington Heights area of Manhattan. As a teenager, he
attended Peekskill Academy and graduated from George Washington High School. His career
began as a model in New York. From there he branched out into stage work and then film.
It was while modeling that he met Janice Cooper, another model, whom he married in December,
1948. During the 1950s they had a son and a daughter. He had the ironic distinction of portraying
the policeman who slayed the werewolf in "I Was A Teenage Werewolf" which starred Michael
Landon, with whom Guy later worked on Bonanza.
Gaining the title role in the Walt Disney "Zorro" series (1957-59) was the biggest break Guy ever got in his acting career. During the two years "Zorro" aired, he was one of the most popular actors on television. He made many public appearances -- in rodeos, at the Rose Bowl Parade, and at Disneyland. After two years as Diego/Zorro, the series was iced because of a financial dispute between Disney and ABC, the network that aired the program. Guy was kept on contract by Disney for two years while legal maneuvering around the series went on. By 1960, Disney decided to give up on winning the battle. Except for four Zorro "anthology" episodes aired on The Wonderful World of Disney, "Zorro" was over. Guy did one more project for Disney, portraying Miles Hendon in an award-winning live action feature of "The Prince and the Pauper."
Guy went on to make a couple of films in Europe, "Captain Sindbad" and "Damon and Pythias," in the early 1960's. He then returned to Los Angeles where he took up, briefly, a role as a Cartwright cousin in "Bonanza." In 1965 he was cast as Professor John Robinson in Irwin Allen’s "Lost in Space" television series. He continued that role through the three-year life of the series. After that, he made occasional appearances on a few tv game shows, but was not again cast in any film or television roles. Based on later interviews that he gave, we speculate that by this point in his career, he was pretty disgusted with Hollywood.
For a full listing of Guy's television and movie credits, visit his filmography on the Internet Movie Database.
In 1973, he made his first trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina, as a guest of a television station there that was airing the Disney "Zorro" series. This led to many more visits to Argentina, and eventually to Guy’s decision to make Buenos Aires his home. He collaborated in the development of, and performed extensively in, a "Zorro" segment in a traveling circus there, allowed his image to be used in marketing certain products, and made many personal appearances which provided him with a reasonable livelihood. He also made good friends and developed a great attachment to the people and lifestyle that Buenos Aires offered. By around 1983 he largely considered Buenos Aires his home. However, he never gave up his ties to Los Angeles, and traveled back and forth between Argentina and the United States after he established his residence in BA.
Guy Williams died sometime between April 30 and May 6, 1989 in his apartment in Buenos Aires. The cause was determined to be a brain aneurysm. He had had previous health problems of this nature. Many people wonder why his death went undiscovered for several days. The authors of this site believe that his fatal stroke came shortly before he was set to depart for a short trip, and in a place and era before cell phones and instant electronic communication. Death goes by no rules of fairness.
Guy’s close friends in Buenos Aires arranged a funeral service for him there. His family in Los Angeles held a memorial service for him at a Roman Catholic church in West Hollywood. His ashes were scattered by members of his family in the Pacific off the southern California coast. He loved the ocean.
Guy's immediate family survives him and continues to reside in southern California. Janice Cooper Williams, Guy Steven, born in 1952, and Toni, born in 1958, are welcome guests at gatherings of Guy's loyal fans. Toni now has a young son named for his grandfather. Guy, Jr. represents his father at various events and celebrity conventions, sometimes carrying on the family tradition by donning the Zorro costume and wielding Zorro's sword. The entire family, as well as close friends of Guy's from Argentina, and many of his co-stars in his television series, were present at the Hollywood Walk of Fame unveiling of the Star for Guy Williams. Both of Guy’s children maintain websites that pay tribute to their father and offer some wonderful family photographs as well as pictures of Guy. Visit these sites at http://zorrofx.com/dads_pg.htm and http://www.toniwilliams.com
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