The Legendary Movie Bandito Zorro was based on a California Legend~
El Bandito Joaquin Murrieta. Was he Real? Was he Killed as some Say? Or Did he Live On in California for Many more years after his rumoured, but not Confirmed Death in the Hills of Central California in 1853 ? This is a Story that Legends, Books, Movies are Made of..and it doesn’t get any more California than That…
Depending on a California pioneer’s point of view in the mid 19th century, Joaquin Murrieta was described by some as a Mexican Robin Hood of El Dorado ~ robbing from the Rich & Giving to the Poor, while others would say he was nothing but a Vicious Desperado ~
So many tales have grown up around Murrieta that it is hard to disentangle the fabulous from the factual. There seems to be a consensus that Anglos drove him from a rich mining claim, and that, in rapid succession, his wife was raped, his half-brother lynched, and Murrieta himself horse-whipped. He may have worked as a monte dealer for a time; then, according to whichever version one accepts, he became either a horse trader and occasional horse thief, or a bandit…
Joaquin Murrieta and Murrieta’s Well
By Andrew Ruppenstein, April 5, 2009
Inscription. The legend of Joaquin Murrieta is one of the most enduring and fascinating of chapters in California history. Facts, fiction and romantic tales entangle to create a legend of unique aura that had become part of California’s folklore, especially in the Livermore Valley where Joaquin was a frequent visitor.
In the early 1850’s Joaquin Murrieta roamed this land. Most famous as an avenging outlaw or a Robin Hood, Joaquin Murrieta and his men were above everything else horsemen, and of the best of breeds. Wild horses, abundant in those days around the Sacramento Delta, were rounded up by Joaquin and his men and driven to Sonora, Mexico, where they were sold at high prices.
One of Joaquin’s favorite camps was at this spot because he claimed the water here was the best in the country where he rode. This fountain is over the artesian well that Joaquin Murrieta favored to water his herds of wild mustangs.
Dedicated April 16, 1995 ~ Joaquin Murrieta Chapter 13 E Clampus Vitus
Erected 1995 by Joaquin Murrieta Chapter 13 of E Clampus Vitus.
Fact or Fiction ~ In True California Style the Legend of Joaquin Murrieta inspired the First SuperHero..! Before SuperMan, Hopalong Cassidy, Dick Tracy, SpiderMan, IronMan, Luke SkyWalker, Indiana Jones or even Avatar…There was Zorro..!
Zorro (Spanish for fox) is the secret identity of Don Diego de la Vega (originally Don Diego Vega), a nobleman and master living in the Spanish colonial era of California. Not only is he much too cunning and foxlike for the bumbling authorities to catch, but he delights in publicly humiliating those same foes.
Zorro (often called Señor or El Zorro in early stories) debuted in McCulley’s 1919 story The Curse of Capistrano, serialized in five parts in the pulp magazine All-Story Weekly. At the denouement, Zorro’s true identity is revealed to all.
Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, on their honeymoon, selected the story as the inaugural picture for their new studio, United Artists, beginning the character’s cinematic tradition. The story was adapted as The Mark of Zorro in 1920, which was a success. McCulley’s story was re-released by the publisher Grosset & Dunlap under the same title, to tie in with the film.
Due to public demand fueled by the film, McCulley wrote over 60 additional Zorro stories starting in 1922. The last, The Mask of Zorro (not to be confused with the 1998 film), was published posthumously in 1959. These stories ignore Zorro’s public revelation of his identity. The black costume that modern audiences associate with the character stem from Fairbanks’ smash hit movie rather than McCulley’s original story, and McCulley’s subsequent Zorro adventures copied Fairbanks’s Zorro rather than the other way around. McCulley died in 1958, just as the Disney-produced Zorro television show was becoming phenomenally successful.
When I was a kid my Favorite T.V. Show was the Disney version of Zorro. He was much cooler than SuperMan or Batman, rode a Black Stallion & Always had a Foxy Senorita on his arm…
Zorro was also a California Homeboy…a True Swashbuckler sporting True California Style.. And as we know, in Calfornia image is Everything, Fact or Fiction…it Doesn’t Really Matter…
In the early 1950’s, Compton was a Respectable, Sleepy Suburb of L.A. I know, my Aunt Ruth & Uncle Bill lived there in a little white house with roses & a Bird Bath in the backyard.
Art & Lloyd Chrisman lived in Compton, too, and the Chrisman’s Garage turned out some of the Nastiest, most Innovative, Well-Designed -Built, Fast & Feared Hot Rods anywhere.
This is the Story of the Chrisman’s – California’s Baddest HotRodders.
In 1950 Art & Lloyd had been racing a modified ’32 Ford roadster on the dry lakes like Harper & El Mirage, north of L.A., near Palmdale in the Mojave. Then in 1953 they set their sights on the Salt Flats at Bonneville & built the nastiest Ford coupe they could conjure up. Based on a 1930 ‘A’ Coupe, Art & Lloyd built a very hi-tech for its day-tube frame, dropped in an injected, bored & stroked Flathead V8, running on a 50/50 Nitromethane & Pump Gas mix – behind the driver with a sectioned, lightened chop-top body channelled over the frame, and an ingenious streamlined nose made from 2 ’40 Ford hoods laid top-to-bottom, the Chrisman’s built what could be considered the world’s first Fuel ‘Funny Car’. A design concept basically shared by all Fuel dragsters & Funny Cars racing today, over 50 years later. but no one knew that…yet.
In 1954 the Chrismans returned to Bonneville, with a new Ford V8 in the Coupe, and used its previous engine for the Roadster, now fielding 2 cars on the Salt, and sponsoring a third. It would be 15 years before other Race Teams would have the organization, skill and funding to field 2 and 3-car teams. Today it takes millions of company sponsorship dollars to do so. Sporting a new Super-Flathead V-8, with Ardun ‘Hemi’ heads, the predecessor to all current drag-racing engines, The Baddest Motor Scooter of its Day. With about 285-300 hp available, the Chrisman Coupe was approaching 200 mph on the salt.
In 1955 The Chrisman Boys returned again, this time with a blown Chrysler Hemi, capable of pushing the Coupe well over 200 mph. The Chrismans withdrew from competition after a friend was killed that day in another car. Shortly thereafter the Chrisman Coupe was sold, never to be raced (by Art & Lloyd) again. In 2008, the restored version of this car was sold at auction for over $500,000.00 and is displayed at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, not far from where it was built in the Chrisman’s Garage in Compton, not 5 miles away, 50-plus years before.
Keeping it All in the Family, along came nephew Jack Chrisman, following in his Father’s and Uncle’s footsteps…in the late 50’s, Jack built early innovative race cars for the dragstrip like the ‘SideWinder’ – one of the first with a rear-engine (and sideways-mounted, for balance), preceding the current practice not widely used until 15 years after this car was first built & ran, in 1959. About 5 years later, having earned a reputation as some of the Baddest HotRodders Anywhere, and now getting some albeit, Undercover Financing from the Ford Motor Company, Jack Chrisman stuffed a leftover 427 Big-block Ford engine into a brand-new ’64 Mercury Comet. My Mom drove the innocuous economy car street version. Jack Chrisman unleashed his Monster Comet on the Drag Strip and sanctioning body NHRA didn’t even know what to call it or how to classify it, the Ultimate Sleeper – The World’s First ‘Funny Car’. Chrisman created a spectacular Mind-Blowing Crowd – Pleaser – a California Hot Rod Revolution that would set Drag Racing on its ear, and Detroit scrambling to create cars to emulate that Evil ‘MuscleCar’ Style….The Chrisman Comet Super Cyclone. A Small, Safe-looking Family Car with a 750-horsepower Monster Motor . I saw it when I was 8 years old and, having seen a lot of Hot Rods already at that age, the sight of what looked like Mom’s Car laying down 500 feet of Nitro-burning tire smoke at 160 mph changed my life forever. The Baddest Hot Rod I ever saw.
Art, Lloyd & Jack Chrisman had and would go on to build several other Winning, Feared, and ultimately Legendary Hot Rods and Race Cars over 30 years, some of which now reside in Museums. Not all are shown here – But to me, because of their innovations – and adoption of into a sport known for design, technical innovation and by nature, always moving forward – These famous Chrisman Dragsters are the most noteworthy.
The Compton, California Chrisman Boys, did first and best, initially without major financial sponsorship what would Evolve into the Multi-Million Dollar Industry that has become Today’s Spectacular Spectator Sport -Nitro-Burning Top Fuel & Funny Car Drag Racing- California Style.
Steve McQueen & Darryl Hannah exude true California Style…Irresistible, Alpha Individuals always ready for Action & Fun in the Sun….