Passion for Argentina. When Guy Williams, actor of El Zorro, asked to go to Malvinas as a volunteer: “I want to help”

The year was 1973 and Argentina received an illustrious actor: Armando Joseph Catalano, better known by his stage name, Guy Williams. “Tired of Hollywood life”, according to his relatives, the artist who starred in The Fox He traveled here to breathe another air. An invitation to participate in a Channel 13 program was what gave him the opportunity.

Williams just got off the plane on his first visit to Argentina. Next to him, the journalist Leo Gleizer. Courtesy Adrián Escudero Tanus and Hernán Otero

He accepted, and lived for many years in Argentina, where many of the adventures he starred in are known. For example, her golden season in Mar del Plata between 1977 and 1978, in the “Real Madrid” circus, her presentations in theaters and the love triangle that she starred in with the Argentines Araceli Lizaso and Patricia Goodliffe. Everything, always, increased by the popularity aroused by the telenovela about the masked hero that, until two years ago, continued to set good ratings on television, every Saturday and Sunday at noon. Her life, of course, was public, so her experience here did not go unnoticed. But there are exceptions for everyone, even for Don Diego de la Vega.

Araceli Lizaso, who was his partner, tells LA NACION some curiosities that portray how Catalano got involved with the Argentine flag, to the point of wanting to put his life at risk for it. A confrontation with the military regime and the day he applied to assist in the armed conflict in the South Atlantic stand out as the most striking.

Guy Williams as Zorro, television series 1957-1959. The American actor offered to help in the conflict between Argentina and the United Kingdom.
Guy Williams as Zorro, television series 1957-1959. The American actor offered to help in the conflict between Argentina and the United Kingdom.Photo12.com – Collection Cinema

Armando Catalano came to Buenos Aires for a job offer, says the filmmaker Adrián Escudero Tanus, who was part of his entourage. “There was a program on Channel 13 called ‘La bell de cristal’, and it worked like this: various garments were established for solidarity purposes. For example: such a week, the production had to get an actor who had won an Oscar. Then (and if they succeeded), an institution that had been designated as a beneficiary would pay a prize that had been previously agreed upon”, he explains. And he continues: “Well, in that way of unfolding, they try to get El Zorro. He was retired, so they couldn’t find him, and they decide to look for him in the US phone book. Indeed, he was. They suggested that if he agreed to come, they would pay him. He accepted and they interviewed.

According to Tanus, Catalano did not have many friends in the world of Hollywood. “And Argentina paired very well with his way of being,” he adds.

“He hated the Hollywood way of life,” insists Tanus. “He starred in ‘Lost in Space’, but later he said that he was completely in disagreement with that series, and that he had only done it for financial reasons.”

All the national media covered the arrival of Catalano (such was the real last name of Guy WIlliams) in Argentina.
All the national media covered the arrival of Catalano (such was the real last name of Guy WIlliams) in Argentina.Courtesy Adrián Escudero Tanus and Hernán Otero

You have to rewind a lot to find the link between The Fox and the war in the South Atlantic. Although, nowadays, there is an object that materializes it: a ceramic plate that is in San Andrés de Giles, 103 kilometers to the Northwest of the City of Buenos Aires. In it, veterans of the Malvinas war thank the “Thousands of volunteers who offered to defend Argentine sovereignty […] Especially to the American citizen, Guy Williams, ‘El Zorro’, for offering to fight for our noble cause”. Joke of bad taste – Disagreeable joke? Do not. The inscription, which has a Z drawn in one of its corners, it was placed on April 1, 2020. Although it is not signed, it is known that the authorship is from a group of war veterans who are natives of that area. Alberto Puglelli, one of them, explained for the regional digital portal Infocity: “He volunteered to drive an ambulance. He was very Malvinas, despite his North American nationality. So we use his image to remember all those who in ’82 offered to cross to Malvinas”.

In the Plaza Colón in San Andrés de Giles there is a monument to those who died in the Falklands War. Among the dozens of plaques there is, a curious dedication to the American actor stands out.
In the Plaza Colón in San Andrés de Giles there is a monument to those who died in the Falklands War. Among the dozens of plaques there is, a curious dedication to the American actor stands out.Mariano Chaluleu

“He applied to drive an ambulance because he was not old enough to fight”says Araceli Lizaso, one of the couples that Catalano had in Argentina.

-It must be said: it is rare for a foreigner to commit himself in that way. How did he come to want to go to war?

-It hurt him a lot to see the naivety of the Argentine who believed that the United States was going to support Argentina. He did not want the United States, he had many things against his country. He used to tell my mother: “Chita, I sold the field, there is going to be a war”. He repeated that the United States had been an ally of England in World War II and that there was no way that it would help Argentina now. “He will not support her,” he maintained. I remember that the talk started with him saying: “I want to help, my compatriots don’t”.

In the winter of 1985, Guy Williams was interviewed by Phillipe Garnier, a journalist for the French magazine Libération. They were together for two days walking and taking photos in different places in Buenos Aires. Some were at the door of a local Kentucky Fried Chicken and others in this grill, where he signed autographs and tried roast and empanadas, despite the fact that he was strictly forbidden to eat with salt.
In the winter of 1985, Guy Williams was interviewed by Phillipe Garnier, a journalist for the French magazine Libération. They were together for two days walking and taking photos in different places in Buenos Aires. Some were at the door of a local Kentucky Fried Chicken and others in this grill, where he signed autographs and tried roast and empanadas, despite the fact that he was strictly forbidden to eat with salt.Courtesy Adrián Escudero Tanus and Hernán Otero

-And how did he offer himself? Did she show up at a government office?

-He had a friend who was Secretary (by the rank of the diplomatic career) in the United States embassy in Argentina. His name was Norman, his name, I don’t remember his last name… she talked to him and he was the one who told her that the only thing she could do, for an age issue, was things like that. “Well, put me there,” he replied to Norman.

-But it was not. What happened?

-After that talk, he signed up. Then, they told him that it couldn’t be done, that they were going to call him anything. But they never called us, everything was in that offer, in that talk. His reaction was to say “No, I don’t think Marilyn Monroe is doing a show for the soldiers, but I want to do something that really engages me, I want to be useful.”

Araceli Lizaso fondly remembers Guy Williams. "I would have accompanied him"He says.
Araceli Lizaso fondly remembers Guy Williams. “I would have accompanied him,” she says.Matías Aimar – THE NATION

Lisaso says that Catalano knew how to maneuver firearms. “He was a very good shooter, he had a .38 long that we believe was stolen by the police when he died.” He really did shoot very well. When we were touring the country for The FoxIt was the time of the dictatorship. Everywhere the military provoked him, but in a joda, huh. We were invited to the barracks to see if he shot “as well as he handled the sword.” I accompanied him.”

-How did you take his proposal to go to Malvinas?

-I would have gone with him, huh. We were inseparable. Lastly, I stayed there cooking. I said, “I’m not going to go to the front but I’m going to assist with nursing.” I had studied medicine.

-Were you disappointed when they said no?

-He said that Argentina was lost to The Fox fighting for the Falklands. She had a great sense of humor.

Guy Williams in his apartment located in the Recoleta neighborhood of Buenos Aires. It was there that his body was found in May 1989. He died of an aneurysm.
Guy Williams in his apartment located in the Recoleta neighborhood of Buenos Aires. It was there that his body was found in May 1989. He died of an aneurysm.Courtesy Adrián Escudero Tanus and Hernán Otero

It is almost a legend, but his relatives assure that it really happened. They say that, one day, Catalano “planted himself” before the military government. “Guy was a celebrity. I think he has been far from good and evil, and that he has been well seen by both opponents, officials, locals and strangers, even by the military… But, once, he challenged the government, ”says Adrián Tanus . “They wanted to force him to give a free presentation. And he didn’t want to. So they went looking for him.”.

Guy Williams as The Fox. Williams would later become a celebrity. "untouchable" in Argentina. "He had a safe-conduct to move freely around the country"says Escudero Tanus for LA NACION.
Guy Williams as The Fox. Williams, later, would become an “untouchable” celebrity in Argentina. “He had a safe-conduct to move freely around the country,” says Escudero Tanus for LA NACION.

Araceli Lizaso elaborates on this episode: “It happened in Santiago del Estero, we had gone to do a show there. We traveled with the producer, he said it was going to be a success because we had sold all the tickets. At one point, Guy heard that the governor had announced a free screening of El Zorro for the entire town on a soccer field, saying “I’m sorry for the people, but I’m not going. Here there is a producer who put money, who traveled, came, who invested… Here there are people hired and I can’t do something like that »”.

-How did you solve the problem?

-His representative and I wanted to convince him to go, but he insisted not. He thanked them and refused. They came within half an hour. A tank with soldiers arrived to look for him at the door of the theater. He didn’t want to go up, he refused. But eventually we convinced him. At the stadium, he took the stage, albeit without a mask or cape. He did not dress for the show. He stood up, greeted the people and told them that it hurt him a lot that they had been deceived, because he could not give a show there since he had been hired for the play in the theater.

-Then the function was made in the theater?

-Then the function was made.

Year 1978: Guy Williams and Fernando Lupiz -a friend of his- in Batán.
Year 1978: Guy Williams and Fernando Lupiz -a friend of his- in Batán.Courtesy Adrián Escudero Tanus and Hernán Otero

Araceli Lizaso takes advantage of this interview to give her version of some facts that, according to her, were distorted. For example, a detail about Catalano’s death: “It is not true that he died on April 30. ‘Guy’ passed away on May 1, 1989.” Tanus folds to this version. Lizaso continues regarding another sensitive matter: “It is a lie that his son, Steve, came to Argentina to look for the ashes. We had to send them to them!”

Armando Joseph Catalano was his real name, but the identity card issued by the Federal Police said
Armando Joseph Catalano was his real name, but the identity card issued by the Federal Police said “Guy Williams.”Courtesy Adrián Escudero Tanus and Hernán Otero

Tanus provides one last detail about the American’s life in Argentina: “He obtained permanent residence in ’79. Beyond being called Armando Joseph Catalano, the identity card issued by the Federal Police said “Guy Williams.” He felt that he owed our country so much that yes, he did indeed ask to drive an ambulance in the South Atlantic conflict.”

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Passion for Argentina. When Guy Williams, actor of El Zorro, asked to go to Malvinas as a volunteer: “I want to help”


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