Friday, July 20, 2018

The Gonzalez Trio, 1957

I am always happy to find photos of the wonderful Gonzalez Trio as they performed in Frontierland. There's something very joyful about the sound of mariachi music. Notice the little bandstand! Not to mention the "Zocalo" marketplace in the background - if you need a rubber tomahawk or a pair of maracas, you will be in luck.

These photos are from 1957, the year that Disney's "Zorro" television series began airing. It was a big success! I wonder if that show's portrayal of "old California" provided the inspiration to add a little more Mexican influence to Frontierland?

Ah, Carmelita... my "retro crush"! Sometimes she played the guitar, too, which made her even more awesome.

Notice the glossy version of the classic paper hat in the foreground - I don't ever recall seeing one of those before. Maybe it's plastic? Or adamantium? There's also a scarce yellow Keppy Kap to the right. 

Does anybody know how many years the Gonzalez Trio remained at Disneyland? It seems as if they were there until sometime in the latter part of the 1960's, though I could find no real info.


TokyoMagic! said...

In the background of that last pic, we can see a cowboy (with a pretty big hat) standing next to a table with a sign that reads, "Trick Rope." In the first pic, we can actually see a boy trying out one of the trick ropes while his mother (probably) looks on.

Melissa said...

I noticed that shiny paper hat, too! What's up with that? And are they making straw hats in that shop in the background? That would be so cool to buy a hat that was made right there.

@TokyoMagic! I'd say that's about a twelve and a half gallon hat.

Melissa said...

D'oh! On second look, I realize that the straw hat with the unfinished edges isn't back in the shop but on a person who's mostly out of frame.

Nanook said...


I, of course, can't provide any pertinent Disney info - although Daveland does have a image from January, 1966; so presumably they were still performing in Frontierland in 1966.

On the other hand, that microphone suspended about the trio is most-likely an Altec 670 A or 670 B Ribbon Microphone. Very nice.

¡OlĂ©! Thanks, Major.

K. Martinez said...

Major, The Zorro TV series must've provided inspiration to add a little more Mexican influence in Frontierland. Some of my favorite episodes from the Disney TV anthology show were the American legends and folk heroes episodes.

I think it would've been cool if Frontierland had some references to the Mexican American lawman and politician Elfego Baca from Walt Disney's "The Nine Lives of Elfego Baca. That was a wonderful series. Even a door or window on one of the Frontierland buildings with a sign "Elfego Baca, Attorney at Law" would've been cool. At least Disneyland's Frontierland had Zorro and Davy Crockett.

Then there's "The Swamp Fox" and "Texas John Slaughter". Which would've been fun to reference in Liberty Square and Frontierland. Today's photos were a lot of fun. Thanks, Major.

DrGoat said...

Great pics. I agree with K. Zorro was a big deal. Every kid on my block did the Zorro thing with our leftover Davy Crockett T-shirts on. I even had the 45 rpm of the Zorro song. I can still dredge up the tune and a few lyrics without looking them up. Thanks for the memories Major.

Chuck said...

...aaand there's my earworm for the day.

"Zorro (Zorro, Zorro)...the fox so cunning and free,

Zorro (Zorro, Zorro)...who makes the sign of the 'Z'!"

JC Shannon said...

I love these pictures, leave it to Major P. to find these rare glimpses into Disneyland's early days. The photos immediately made me remember my field trip to Olvera Street in 60...or was it 61. My class at Colfax Avenue School enjoyed a day of Mexican culture exploration and yes, mariachi music! Zorro was a great show, I was going through my western cowboy phase and loved all things old west. Walt loved other cultures and wanted his guests to experience them as well. Thanks Major, Carmelita is now my new crush as well.

Irene said...

Other little things I'm noticing - the cowboy selling the trick ropes. Does he have cigarette hanging from his mouth in the last photo? I also notice in pictures one and three a group of people to the right in what appears to be a circle (or half circle) watching something. In the last photo some people are sitting in chairs. Any idea anyone of what that would be? When I went, I was too young to remember stuff like this unfortunately, or my memory recall just isn't what it should be! I was also one of those kids that was into Davy Crockett and then Zorro. Heck, I watched anything that had the Disney name on it!!!

Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, it’s funny, I saw that kid with the rope, but I didn’t really compute what he was doing. That’s a very cool detail - I think Daveland pad a photo of the man selling the trick ropes.

Melissa, now I only want to wear shiny hats. The glossier, the better. It will be my new affectation (the monocle is so over). My mom has a silly little straw hat that she says she bought at Disneyland when she was a girl, I wonder if she got it from that same souvenir stand?

Melissa, ha ha, until you pointed it out, I thought it was from the shop too.

Nanook, I have the feeling that the Gonzalez Trio was done by 1966 or 1967. Bummer. I would still enjoy hearing a small mariachi band in Frontierland.

K. Martinez, I was just looking at a bunch of photos of the Disney backlot, including the old Zorro sets, I’ll bet the same craftsmen who built those sets also helped with some parts of the park. Other than the “Rancho El Zocalo” restaurant, I can’t think of anything else very Mexican in Frontierland these days. I’ve never seen “Elfago Baca” or “Swamp Fox” OR “Texas John Slaughter”, though I am aware of all of them. I wish there was some easy way to see a few episodes.

DrGoat, I know I had Zorro books, and those “rub-ons” (rub down transfers), and a cape and a hat - but I don’t think we had a sword, even a plastic one. We probably had to make do with a stick.

Chuck, yes, after all these years I can still hear that song!

Jonathan, I used to love going to Olvera Street. As far as I know, it was where I had my first Mexican food! The souvenir stands that lined the street had so much fun, colorful stuff. Maybe I need to scan some vintage slides of Olvera Street and share them here! The only cowboy item I for sure remember was a red felt hat with white stitching, much like Jessie the Cowgirl wears.

Irene, that guy definitely has a cigarette in his mouth! He looks just like “Vegas Vic”. It really does look like those people to the right are watching something, but it could just be that they are resting their feet and watching the Mine Train come and go. If there was any kind of performance in that area, I am unaware of it. There were gunfights for a while, but those were done near the Golden Horseshoe.

Nanook said...

@ JC Shannon-

I believe the producers used the front entrance of Colfax Avenue Elementary School on at least one episode of Leave It to Beaver.

JC Shannon said...

@ Nanook Wow, I didn't know that. But some actor's kids went there. Tony Whitman, Stuart Whitman's son was in my Cub Scout Den. Good times. CAES was a great school, I loved it. I can still remember waiting for the school bus, wearing my PF Fliers, and holding my Disneyland lunch box.

Anonymous said...

Major, this is fun stuff. I don't recall these singers at all, except from blog posts, and I never got to see Zorro either except in re-runs on the Disney Channel in the 80's.

I do enjoy some mariachi music, though, especially when the girl plays the guitar.

@JC Shannon, so you had PF Fliers... I desperately wanted a pair, and only ever got the Penney store brand.


Melissa said...

I never missed an episode of
The Family Channel's Zorro.

Melissa said...

The only thing I remember about the Beaver's school is that his teacher Miss Canfield was played by Diane Brewster, who played femme fatale Samantha Crawford in four episodes of Maverick. Irene Adler style, she was the only woman to beat Bret at his own game of poker.

Nanook said...

@ Melissa-

Miss. Canfield was only seen in 5 episodes. Beaver's long-running (suffering) teacher, seen in 29 episodes, was Miss. Landers, played by Sue Randall. She was seen in tons of TV shows in the 1950's, up through around 1967.

Melissa said...

I guess I remember even less than I thought!

Anonymous said...

That cowboy in the background is Eddie Ademek. He pitched trick ropes at Disneyland for many years, first at the blacksmith shop, then they moved him to El Zocolo.

Daveland said...

Love the Gonzalez shots!