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  Cisco Kid, Volume 4 - 10 hours [Audio CDs] #RA167



 
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10 hours - Audio CD Set


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The Cisco Kid
Volume 4




"There are only five real people in Hollywood. Everybody else is Mel Blanc."
Jack Benny

Duncan Renaldo rides Diablo in the television version of "The Cisco Kid"If you were a child in the 1950s, you likely have strong memories of a western hero that rode the wilds of the old west, righting wrongs and romancing the ladies with equal vigor. The character was "The Cisco Kid", an early television success originally produced by Ziv Television in 1950 and broadcast perpetually on local stations until well into the 1970s. Frederic Ziv, the president of Ziv Television, was a syndication pioneer who had earlier made his fortune producing radio shows - with the audio Cisco being one of his biggest earlier successes. On radio, the series starred Jack Mather in the title role, with character actor Harry Lang as his rotund comic-relief sidekick Pancho, in adventures that were first heard throughout the United States and Canada in 1946.

Both the television and radio incarnations of "O. Henry's Robin Hood of the Old West" were a popular success - though the writer who created Cisco would likely not have recognized him in either version. Henry (aka William Sydney Porter) had introduced the character in a 1907 short story titled "The Caballero's Way" - a violent and uncompromising story about a dark-skinned white man who passed himself off as a Mexican. In print, Cisco was a scabrous, cold-blooded bandit who expunged his victims as much for the sheer joy of killing as he did as a necessity of his work - a far cry from the lovable and romantic latin lover who would later become a hero to millions of pre-pubescent children.

For television, Ziv chose actors Duncan Renaldo and Leo Carrillo to play his two heroic leads; both had already appeared as the characters in a series of "B" westerns intended for the Saturday matinee crowd and both were, of course, of Hispanic origin. On radio, however, where ethnicity was simply a matter of adopting an appropriate accent, the roles fell to Jack Mather and Harry Lang. Both Mather and Lang were busy Hollywood-based radio actors, used to traveling from network to network for roles on such diverse programs as "Gene Autry's Melody Ranch", "Blondie", and "I Love Adventure", who relished the opportunity to take on a single role in what promised to be a long-running prerecorded series.

Long-running it was, with Ziv recording well over 700 programs between 1947 and 1956. Mather starred - with Lang by his side - until 1953, when radio's Pancho fell ill with heart trouble and temporarily had to leave the show. This presented a serious problem to the producers, who were concerned that after more than six years on the air, radio audiences might not accept anyone else but Harry Lang in the role. As a temporary stop-gap measure, while Lang convalesced, it was decided that his radio counterpart would also fall ill - in Pancho's case, with the measles, the mumps, and the chicken pox - meaning that Cisco would ride with any number of Pancho's relatives until his rotund sidekick recovered. The decision was a good one, as the series continued its momentum and a short string of character actors stepped in to take Pancho's place at the microphone in the guise of Uncle Jose, Uncle Cipriano, and other members of Pancho's extended family.

After the death of Harry Lang in 1953, Mel Blanc took on the role of Cisco's portly sidekick PanchoAmong those taking Lang's place was Mel Blanc, radio's well-known "Man of a Thousand Voices". By 1953, Blanc had already secured his place in both radio and cartoon history by creating the voices of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, and everything from the wheezing sputters of Jack Benny's Maxwell automobile to the long-suffering Professor LeBlanc, Benny's violin teacher. In the mid-1940s, Blanc had created the character of Pedro, a Mexican ranch hand, on comedienne Judy Canova's radio show - a sweet but not overly intelligent fellow known for his high-pitched giggle and for mangling the English language with such well known catch phrases as "Pardon me for speaking in your face, Seniorita." It was essentially this character, with variations, that Blanc brought to "The Cisco Kid".

Believing that Lang would soon return to the show, Blanc was initially assigned the role of Porfirio, Pancho's "cousin-in-law", in a characterization that virtually defined the term "comic relief". As Pancho, Lang was never what one would call subtle; a broad comedian by training, he relished the camaraderie between Pancho and the handsome Cisco and clearly enjoyed the banter between the two characters. But Blanc brought a cartoon-like energy to the role that Lang had lately been lacking. (This may have had as much to do with age and health as characterization; in 1953, Harry Lang was nearly 60 and in increasingly poor health, while Mel Blanc was a healthy 45.) Additionally, Blanc had spent most of his professional life in radio and cartoons creating larger-than-life characters that were usually supporting players or "stooges" rather than leads; after all, despite displaying surprising versatility, Bugs and Daffy were never going to be serious competition to the Oliviers of the world.

Thus, in early 1953, Mel Blanc became a stand-in Pancho - a temporary assignment that became permanent when Harry Lang, after a brief return to the show, suffered a fatal heart attack in August of 1953. From that point until the radio series ceased production in 1956, Mel Blanc became Pancho as he and Cisco continued to ride the plains and valleys of the old west. Surprisingly, despite the producers' fears of audience disappointment, listeners didn't really seem to notice the change in actors. Mel Blanc's appearances seem, in fact, to have brought a new spark of energy to a show that was, after years in production, likely in need of a breath of fresh air. And though radio fans have long enjoyed Harry Lang as Pancho, there's no denying that Mel Blanc is equally as delightful in the part.

Since the 1947-1956 "Cisco Kid" series was pre-recorded for syndication, a great many of Cisco and Pancho's adventures have been in the hands of collectors for years -- with the majority of available programs dating from the late 1940s. However, a few years ago, Radio Archives uncovered a large collection of original "Cisco Kid" syndication discs in Des Moines, Iowa -- uncirculated and seldom played 16" vinyl transcription recordings which had for many years been carefully preserved by a local advertising agency. These programs have, for the most part, been unheard since the 1950s and most have never been available to collectors - until now, that is. In addition to their rarity, a unique feature of these restored broadcasts is the reintegration of regional commercials, voiced by well-known announcer Marvin Miller ("The Whistler", "The Railroad Hour"). The series was sponsored on a number of Midwestern radio stations by the bakers of Butter-nut Bread, and the program recordings we found were accompanied by separate discs containing a virtual raft of original commercials - three uniquely created spots for each individual broadcast, in fact, that even today can inspire a listener to get up and make a peanut butter and jelly on white bread. As presented in this set, the commercials have once again been edited back into the programs, allowing you for the first time to hear these shows just as they were originally aired in the mid-1950s.


#649 Marshal Riker's Revenge
1950s - 30:00 - ZIV Syndication, sponsored by Butter-nut Bread

#650 Blackmail at Roundup
1950s - 30:00 - ZIV Syndication, sponsored by Butter-nut Bread

#651 Charley Page's Crusade
1950s - 30:00 - ZIV Syndication, sponsored by Butter-nut Bread

#652 The Masquerading of Denver Dan
1950s - 30:00 - ZIV Syndication, sponsored by Butter-nut Bread

#653 Vanishing Gold
1950s - 30:00 - ZIV Syndication, sponsored by Butter-nut Bread

#654 The Night of the Fire
1950s - 30:00 - ZIV Syndication, sponsored by Butter-nut Bread

#685 The Ship in the Desert
1950s - 30:00 - ZIV Syndication, sponsored by Butter-nut Bread

#686 The Schoolmarm
1950s - 30:00 - ZIV Syndication, sponsored by Butter-nut Bread

#687 Robbery on the Railroad
1950s - 30:00 - ZIV Syndication, sponsored by Butter-nut Bread

#688 Indian Ambush
1950s - 30:00 - ZIV Syndication, sponsored by Butter-nut Bread

#689 Manhunt for a Killer
1950s - 30:00 - ZIV Syndication, sponsored by Butter-nut Bread

#690 Builders of the Road
1950s - 30:00 - ZIV Syndication, sponsored by Butter-nut Bread

#691 The Lady Blacksmith
1950s - 30:00 - ZIV Syndication, sponsored by Butter-nut Bread

#692 The Two Sheriffs of Mesa
1950s - 30:00 - ZIV Syndication, sponsored by Butter-nut Bread

#695 The Emperor of Santa Fe
1950s - 30:00 - ZIV Syndication, sponsored by Butter-nut Bread

#696 House of Gold
1950s - 30:00 - ZIV Syndication, sponsored by Butter-nut Bread

#697 Rescue in Matamoros
1950s - 30:00 - ZIV Syndication, sponsored by Butter-nut Bread

#698 Death Gun
1950s - 30:00 - ZIV Syndication, sponsored by Butter-nut Bread

#711 The Fighting Lumberjack
1950s - 30:00 - ZIV Syndication, sponsored by Butter-nut Bread

#712 Sombrero Mine Disaster
1950s - 30:00 - ZIV Syndication, sponsored by Butter-nut Bread


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