The Cisco Kid
The Cisco Kid is a fictional character found in numerous film, radio, television and comic book series based on the fictional Western character created by O. Henry in his 1907 short story “The Caballero’s Way”, published in the collection Heart of the West, as well as in Everybody’s Magazine, v17, July 1907. In movies and television, the Kid was depicted as a heroic Mexicancaballero, even though he was originally a cruel outlaw.
“The Caballero’s Way” (short story)
In O. Henry’s original story, the character is a 25-year-old desperado in the Texas–Mexico border country who bears little resemblance to later interpretations of the character. He kills for sport and is responsible for at least eighteen deaths. His real name is possibly Goodall (“This hombre they call the Kid—Goodall is his name, ain’t it?”); no first name is given in the story. The Kid’s mixed-ancestry girlfriend, Tonia Perez, both fears and loves him. When Texas Ranger Lieutenant Sandridge arrives at her home, seeking news of the Cisco Kid, they fall in love. Sandridge begins visiting twice a week. Eventually the Kid visits Tonia’s house and finds them together:
Ten yards from his hiding-place, in the shade of the jacal, sat his Tonia calmly plaiting a rawhide lariat. So far she might surely escape condemnation; women have been known, from time to time, to engage in more mischievous occupations. But if all must be told, there is to be added that her head reposed against the broad and comfortable chest of a tall red-and-yellow man, and that his arm was about her, guiding her nimble small fingers that required so many lessons at the intricate six-strand plait.
He overhears Tonia tell Sandridge that she heard the Kid was in the area, and that she assumes the Kid will visit her soon. She says she will send Sandridge word of the Kid’s whereabouts by Gregorio, “the small son of old Luisa,” in time for Sandridge to ride off with a posse, find the Kid and kill him. Sandridge departs and shortly the Kid appears, pretending he has just arrived. The Kid sends a message to Sandridge through Domingo Sales, who claims that Gregorio is “too ill of a fever to ride”. The message says that the Kid has arrived and explains that the Kid has exchanged clothes with Tonia to foil pursuers. Sandridge returns to Tonia’s home and sees two figures in the moonlight: one in men’s clothing and the other in women’s. The one in men’s clothing rides away. Assuming this to be Tonia, Sandridge ambushes and shoots the remaining figure. The victim is Tonia, the Kid having tricked Sandridge into killing his girlfriend.
Numerous movies featured the character, beginning in the silent film era with The Caballero’s Way (1914). There is a discrepancy as to who actually played the part of the Cisco Kid. In the cemetery records[clarification needed] of Stanley Herbert Dunn it states that he played the part, but at IMDb.com[unreliable source?] it states that William Robert Dunn played the part.
For his portrayal of the Kid in the early sound film In Old Arizona (1928), Warner Baxter won the second Best Actor Oscar. This film was a revised version of the original story, in which the Kid is portrayed in a positive light. It was directed by Irving Cummings and Raoul Walsh, who was originally slated to play the lead until a jackrabbit jumping through a windshield cost him an eye while on location. In 1931, Fox Film Corporation produced a sound version with Baxter, Conchita Montenegro, and Edmund Lowe.
The movie series began with The Return of the Cisco Kid (1939), featuring Baxter in the title role with Cesar Romero as his sidekick, Lopez, Chris-Pin Martin as the other sidekick, Gordito (“Fatty”), Lynn Bari as his mistaken love interest, Ann Carver, Henry Hull as her wayward grandfather, and Ward Bond in the lowest-billed role as “Tough”, whose one scene shows him beaten into unconsciousness by the unscrupulous Sheriff McNally (Robert Barrat).
Romero took over the lead role of Cisco and Martin continued to play Gordito in six further films before the series was suspended with America’s entry into World War II in 1941. Duncan Renaldo took over the reins as the Kid when Monogram Pictures revived the series in 1945 with The Cisco Kid Returns, which also introduced the Kid’s best-known sidekick, Pancho, played by Martin Garralaga. Pancho also became established as his sidekick in other media. Neither Gordito nor Pancho is in the original story. After three Renaldo/Cisco films, Gilbert Roland played the character in a half-dozen 1946-1947 movies beginning with The Gay Cavalier (1946). Renaldo then returned to the role with Leo Carrillo as Pancho. They made five films, with Renaldo assuming the flowery “Cisco” outfit in the final film. He would wear that throughout the TV series that followed.
List of movies
The Cisco Kid came to radio October 2, 1942, with Jackson Beck in the title role and Louis Sorin as Pancho. With Vicki Vola and Bryna Raeburn in supporting roles and Michael Rye announcing, this weekly series continued on Mutual until February 14, 1945. It was followed by a thrice weekly series on a Mutual-Don Lee regional network in 1946, starring Jack Mather and Harry Lang, who continued to head the cast in the syndicated radio series of more than 600 episodes from 1947 to 1956.
The radio episodes ended with one or the other of them making a corny joke about the adventure they had just completed. They would laugh, saying, “‘oh, Pancho!” “‘oh, Cisco!”, before galloping off, while laughing.
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Television series and movies
The TV episodes and the 1994 movie, like the radio series, ended with one or the other of them making a corny joke about the adventure they had just completed. They would laugh, saying, “‘O, Pancho!” “‘O, Cisco!”, before galloping off, while laughing, into the sunset. Spanish-styled Western theme music was heard as the credits rolled. Throughout the TV series, Pancho addressed Renaldo as “Cisco” – although that is the name of a town near Abilene, Texas, and the character’s real name is never mentioned – and others (mostly Anglo characters) refer to him as “the Kid” (Renaldo was 46 years old when the TV series began). Although both Pancho and Cisco are clearly identifiable as Mexicans, throughout the entire series they spoke to each other in English, with Pancho speaking a thickly accented and very tortured English, as if the two of them were not both fluent and comfortable in Spanish. Of course, the series was intended for initial release in the United States and for a primarily English-speaking audience so, as is still the practice today in such cases, the dialog was written and delivered in English and the audience filled in the rest.
- Cisco Kid Comics, a one-shot comic book by Baily Publishing, appeared on newsstands in 1944.
- Dell Comics published 41 issues of The Cisco Kid from 1950 to 1958.
- Jose Luis Salinas and Rod Reed drew the Cisco Kid comic strip, syndicated from 1951 to 1967.
- Moonstone Books has, as of 2009, published six graphic novels about the Kid.
- Nash Candelaria‘s 1988 short-story collection is entitled The Day the Cisco Kid Shot John Wayne.
- In Stephen King‘s short story “The Raft“, Pancho and Cisco are the nicknames used by the two ill-fated friends stranded on the raft.
- Dennis “Cisco” Wojciechowski, Mickey Haller’s private investigator in The Brass Verdict and The Fifth Witness was nicknamed Cisco in honor of the Cisco Kid while he was affiliated with the Road Saints motorcycle gang.
- In Mark Lindsay‘s song “Arizona” (from the 1970 album Arizona), the title character of the song hangs up a poster of Pancho and Cisco.
- Elvis Presley, during his early 1971 concerts, used to wear a jumpsuit he referred to as “The Cisco Kid”. The suit is featured on the cover of his 1972 Grammy-winning gospel album He Touched Me.
- War‘s song “The Cisco Kid” (from The World Is a Ghetto, 1972) reached number two on the US pop charts; the song also appeared on their 2008 Greatest Hits Live.
- Deep Purple‘s “Hey Cisco” (from Purpendicular, 1996) is loosely based on the radio show’s characters
- In Don Williams‘s 1998 song “Pancho” (from I Turn the Page), the Kid mournfully reflects on their friendship that has ended.
- The ska punk group Sublime released a song entitled “Cisco Kid” within their album Robbin’ the Hood (1994); which includes voice clips from the series
The names Pancho and Cisco
“Cisco” and “Pancho” are both nicknames given to men whose Spanish name is Francisco, which in English is “Francis.” or Frank.
- p.19 Osbourne, Robert C. Academy Awards Illustrated 1969 Abe Books
- Dunning, John. (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3. Pp. 155-156.
- At 26:49 on OTRWesterns.com you will hear the exact quote from the radio series.
- “‘Cisco Kid’ for TV Via Pact With Ziv“, Billboard, Sept. 24, 1949, p. 47. Commercial color television broadcasting began in 1951, but a non-network program such as The Cisco Kid could not have been shown in color on local stations before 1954.
- Moonstone Books, accessed 12 August 2009.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to The Cisco Kid.|
- Jerry Haendiges Vintage Radio Logs: The Cisco Kid
- Radio Archive Free Stream: The Cisco Kid
- O. Henry’s “The Caballero’s Way” (full text)
- The Cisco Kid at the American Film Institute Catalog
- The Cisco Kid TV Episode Guide
- “The Cisco Kid” TV series (1950-1956) at Internet Movie Database
- Zoot Radio, free old time radio show downloads of ‘The Cisco Kid.’
- Everybody’s Magazine [v17, July 1907