Williams' Interview, Moviestars Magazine Los Angeles U. S.A.
Published September 1958.
never really been much of a planner. He's never really set his
mind to doing something and then gone about doing it. He's truly
a person who relies on his heart to lead him to happiness ...
and it does.
their second baby was born on May 14th 1958, Guy said he and
his wife Janice 'chickened out' about the prospect of discussing
whether they wanted a boy or a girl. We just wanted the baby
to be healthy.”
Steve (their first son, born 1952) came along, I wanted a boy
- until it got time for him to be born. ...Just let the baby,
be there, and be healthy.
time it was a girl (Toni), and the only thing that bothers me
is that Im afraid I'll spoil her. Steve and I get along just
fine; we have a great rapport - mostly rap...
dark eyes twinkled.
was born to an 'old world' way of life in the Fort George area
of New York City. His grandfather of Messina Italy. a wealthy
timber grower, had years before purchased land in New Jersey,
which he offered to his four sons. Of the four, only Guy's father;
Attilio, decided to take the 'new world'. He settled in N.Y.C.
to raise his family and became a prominent insurance broker.
Guy's mother Claire became an executive with a American branch
of a foreign film producing company.
record for keeping a job was one year. Then I started modeling.
I was a salesman in the luggage department at Wanamakers. And
Hope Lange's sister; Minelda, she was a photographer there.
She took pictures of me and told me to take them to a male model
was an active child, not nearly so interested in school as he
was in sports. Anything that kept him inside the house and off
the playing field he remembers with disfavour. He mentions,
for example, the family custom of leisurely dining.
never appreciated good food, " he admits, "because
I knew it would be hours before dinner was finished. I could
never understand how my family could sit so long at tables talking,
sipping wine, eating apples and cheese! In short, we were never
a peanut-butter sandwich sort of family.”
the time, I wished we were. Now I can see the charm of such
'old-world' dining. Frequently, my wife Janice and I have guests,
and we find ourselves still eating and talking at midnight.”
parents sought to give him the best education possible. After
attending Public School 189 and George Washington High School
in New York City, he entered and graduated from Peekskill Military
Academy, Peekskill, New York.
loved maths, but everything else was a bore" Guy recalled.
(Again, a Guy Williams contradiction. He is more knowledgeable
than many an Ivy Leaguer). 'My interest in dramatics developed
only because I hated my English literature. We were reading
Evangeline' and I figured I'd had just about enough of that.
So I dropped the course and took dramatics.”
real interest in dramatics didn't really develop until after
he left the academy. Actually, he didn't plan on his acting
career either. "It was right after High School, my father
said I should look for work. 'You just have to do something!'
he said. So I would find myself going on interviews, ... but
hoping I wouldn't get the job.”
would take me three months to catch on to a job and then Id
get canned. I was a salesman, a welder, a cost accountant and
an aircraft-parts inspector.”
didn't know much about the business, but I brought the pictures
over and was sent out on jobs. The pay was better than anything
I had been earning up till then. From modeling, I just drifted
the late 40's Guy adapted well to modeling (alongside some future
famous stars) and along the way he entered New York's famed
'Neighborhood Playhouse' and with some summer theater work,
Guy honed his craft towards an acting career.
Guy's father died in 1951, and was never to know of Guy's enormous
soon-to-come success. Signed to Universal in 1952, Guy appeared
in movies; The Man from the Alamo, Seven Angry Men & The
Golden Blade. On television he appeared on Studio One and Suspense
Theater. ... This guy was on his way.
bad luck in 1953 would be a future blessing in disguise, when
the actor was thrown from a horse and suffered serious injury
to his left shoulder and arm.
came out of the accident with an impairment of muscular control
of his left arm. In the hope exercise could restore muscular
co-ordination Guy started fencing lessons. Within six months,
he had regained full use of the arm and had become a crack fencer.
skill would help clinch the dashing role of Zorro for Guy. Physically,
he is a lithe, six-foot-three, well-proportioned one-hundred-eighty-five
pounds with grey-green eyes and dark wavy hair. He has the habit
of standing tensed on the balls of his feet like a fencer ready
to explode into action.
more movies and TV, Guy was told about Walt Disney's forthcoming
Zorro auditions to which a fencing ability was a prime requisite.
In 1956, fencing instructors around Hollywood were booked for
weeks by actors who wanted to learn to fence in ten easy lessons.
But the plum role was to go to an actor who could already fence.
the twenty actors, casting directors Lee Traver and Jack Lavin
had sent to Disney director Norman Foster, Guy Williams was
an absolute standout. Norman says "We had checked every
studio in town for footage on our candidates. I was immediately
impressed with Guy's looks, but I wanted to be sure he could
handle a sword."
first day, I had him do three different (film) fencing scenes.
As far as I was concerned, Guy fits Zorro to a 'T' or should
I say, 'Z'? From the beginning, I knew I wanted him to play
the part.” Guy had the old-world looks, charm, the fencing ability
and acting talent that Zorro demanded.
this time he had grown a small 'Douglas Fairbanks' mustache,
which would stay for a long time to come. On April 18th 1957,
(after a year's search) 33-year-old Guy was told he had the
Zorro, Guy has two names and he seemed to have been born with
a fencing foil in his hand. Interestingly, he proved to be almost
too good. "Guy was my most difficult pupil,” recalled veteran
Hollywood fencing master Fred Caverns. 'We knew too much. I
had to make him forget all he knew, before I could teach him
the unique thrusts and parries demanded in film work, for its
full dramatic effect."
to his Italian birthright, Guy gestures with his hands when
speaking. His manner is debonair and light-hearted, but he has
his serious side. His conscientiousness shows...
the time, Guy knew very little about the guitar, but 'Don Diego'
plays. Walt Disney put well-known guitarist Vincente Gomez in
charge of giving Guy lessons. After three weeks, Gomez told
Walt that he was adept enough to 'get by' * But Guy didn't want
to 'just get by,' He kept at the lessons until he could play
is a chess player, an expert on tropical fish and an amateur
astronomer. To further his and Jan's interest in astronomy,
they have a telescope set up in the bedroom. Guy proudly describes
it as follows; "It has a six-inch reflector and works on
the same principle as the two-hundred-inch telescope at Mount
Palomar. The equatorial mounts weigh sixty-five pounds, and
it's not easily portable.”
all the excitement of Zorro, there's no denying that Guy is
presently Walt Disney's favourite star. And Guy loves the long
workload. Up at 6am, for a 7am call at the Disney studio, he
is usually the first one on set. He good-naturedly describes
his set-work as 'a one & half-day (per day) job; 12 hours'.
"It's scene, scene, scene, one after the other. Am at home,
it's learning scene, scene, scene for the next day."
and Sundays, I study ahead on the next two shows, so that when
sixteen pages of dialogue come along, I’m ready for them."
In spite of a busy schedule, Guy finds time to play with his
five-year old son, Steve. A junior Zorro, Steve is all boy.
a naturally athletic youngster and Guy keeps two swords at home,
which he and Stevie use to play 'Zorro' fencing scenes. "Stevie's
getting the idea real well," says his father. "The
other night I bent over to pick up something and he gave me
a whack while my back was turned." Besides being a proficient
fencer and a very enthusiastic guitarist, Guy has a lot of other
has great resolving power, the reflector makes the moon THIS
big, " he says enthusiastically, spreading his arms as
wide as they will go. "In the bedroom, a moon that large
can be very romantic. It's really out of this world."
Jan and I saw the planet Mars, it had come closer to the Earth
than it will again for seventeen years. We even tried to catch
a glimpse of the satellites, but no such luck."
another shared hobby - photography; Janice and Guy have a complete
darkroom set-up. Japanese prints and some of their own photographic
work decorate the walls. And son Steve is a favourite subject
for pictures. Janice says, "We have boxes of pictures of
Steve. I’m sure he's one of the most photographed children in
Williams' musical tastes are broad, but Guy's favourite records,
out of a collection of 300 LP's, are the last five quartets
of Beethoven. He explains, "As a composer, Beethoven was
constantly curious about music and constantly exploring new
areas of awareness, new areas of sensation...”
he's dynamically discussing the stars, fencing, music, the merits
of a rare wine or a poetic love song, Guy is as much at home
as his fictional counterpart, Zorro; the romantic adventurer
of early California.
he has a bad memory for dates, but fortunately a sense of humour
to offset it. When asked away from his wife, when he was married,
he was stumped...
replied; "I have to always stop and think about that ...
about six years ago" (Here is an example of Guy's prankster
humour. he was married 10 years ago -Ed)
my anniversary or my son's birthday is the 8th or 18th. Uh,
quit the details!" Guy laughed in mock exasperation, "What
year is this? ... Put me down for the 8th. That way, I can't
go wrong. I can always tell my wife the magazine made a mistake."
wife Janice still models occasionally. Guy does not believe
in both being seriously career-minded. As he says, "Jan
wanted to continue modelling, so she models when she wants to.
But its not a back-breaking thing and its not something she's
devoting her life to. It gives her a feeling she can do what
she wants to. ...She also makes money" -his handsome face
crinkled. 'And we both love shopping."
Egoville (Guy's word for Hollywood), I don't think it's good
to have two careers going. The wife goes on location and they
see each other in passing. That's not good for a marriage. And
then there's the ego thing. One career goes up, the other goes
down or sideways - it can get pretty messy."
seemed to have no trouble remembering how old he was - thirty,
...but he was stumped for another moment when asked of his birth
date. ... "Let me see, "he mused.
is now using that 'prankster' humour again) "I’m under
Capricorn.” ...And then his memory came back to him; "It's
January 14th, 1928!" he beamed with a sense of smiling
accomplishment. (His birthday is actually January 14th 1924!
has Guy's 'Zorro' fame affected him? "Well, I don't see
my family as much as I used to, ...but it has given me a great
line for my wife now; it ends all arguments because it makes
her laugh. ...I say to her; 'Honey, don't mess around with Zorro!
And so whatever we're arguing about goes right out the window."
do Jan and Guy find to argue about? It goes like this according
to Guy: "Honey where did you hide my military brush set?'
I never say to her; 'Where did you put it?' It's always, 'Where
did you hide it?...
start looking in the oven and the refrigerator. She says, I
didn't hide it, you left it on the table and I put it away'....
I say; 'I don't mind your hiding it, but just tell me'. When
she starts to get mad, I pull out the Zorro line and she breaks
might say to her, 'Why is this toast burned?' She'll say; 'Because
you haven't bought me a new toaster!' But aside from all that,
we also get along."
if he and his wife spent all their time joking, Guy responded;
''Jan and I both have a sense of humour. If she were a square,
it would be pretty boring. She's a sweet, little darling. ...Write
that down!" he said to this reporter.
a honey blonde with blue eyes who's sometimes mistaken for Lauren
Bacall. And I would be lost without her."
this point, you don't laugh about it, you do it. ...Had I known
in the fifth grade that all this would happen, I would have
skipped school right there and then."
asked about past lean times, Guy's face suddenly changed saying;
"When things are grim, we go into Grimsville " - The
phrase was amusing, but the hard set of Guy's jaw denied a sense
of humour. Watching him, you knew that Guy and Jan have had
a taste of 'Grimsville' and so it wasn't as funny as it sounded.
he didn't seem to want to talk about the hard times, the years
of struggling for recognition, so we talked more about fame.
"It's a two-edged sword, " said Guy. "It's a
mark of recognition."
on the other hand, the area of my private living is becoming
smaller and smaller. I personally prefer privacy. Now when I
walk down the street, I’m aware of myself more than I ever was,
and I’m not sure I like this."
for how fame has affected his ego, Guy laughed. 'My ego shrank
when I got married! My wife is a head-shrinker.” He added seriously;
"Think about somebody else all the time and it does something
to you. Before it was me, me, me, all the time."
it's us, us, us.” I’m just not used to always working all the
time," Guy said with a smile and admirable humility. "But
friends & talks with friends work for you whether you're
rich or poor. Zorro adds to my income, but it doesn't change
my basic human values."
seems to be as carefree and romantic as the adventures he portrays
on TV. He himself seems to be more of a legend than an everyday
dollars-&-cents person. Guy summed it up by saying, 'Where's
the hook. When I was a kid, I used to load up on 'National Geographic'.
I used to dream about owning a 30' sloop and travelling in it.
I read about a guy who went to Tahiti all by himself ... That
was my dream.”
the older generation laughs you out of those things. But now
I’m an adult, and it's legitimate.”
in the process of buying a boat called the 'Oceana' right now.
Ah, I’m going to travel to Acapulco and Honolulu. Pushing a
sloop across 8, 000 miles of water is one of the most creative
things I can think of ... at this moment."
is the enthusiasm of Guy, feeling at ease with his fame, proudly
living in his new home. a classic looking Spanish-type apartment
house that was originally built by Hollywood silent star Norma
Talmadge. He discusses the rigors of tinsel-town with his long-time
actor friend Dennis Weaver, (Gunsmoke) and where it might take
where will Guy's sailing aspirations take him? He pictures the
day in mind where he will hoist his own flag and throw care
to the ocean winds. So Guy keeps following his heart, it may
lead Jan and him across the wide seas. And then where? ... Guy
doesn't know. Only his heart holds the answers.