The Legend of Zorro began in 1919 when Johnston McCulley, a 36-year-old former police reporter, wrote The Curse Of Capistrano. His story first appeared in the August 9 issue of the pulp magazine, All-Story Weekly. The Curse Of Capistrano is set in early 19th century California and tells the story of Don Diego de la Vega, the son of a rich land owning Californian family. Johnston’s Diego acted dainty and would rather read poetry than participate in anything that involved violence. Diego’s behavior however, was only an act. For when night fell he became Zorro(‘fox’ in Spanish), a fighter of evils, a righter of wrongs. Much like Robin Hood, Zorro was a defender of the weak and oppressed. McCulley may have been inspired by a number of California legends, including the infamous bandito Joaquin Murieta. Murieta was a miner who struck back at the gold-seeking gringos who overran the Mexican settlement of San Andreas. Regardless of who McCulley’s inspirations were, the public fell in love with his Zorro. They devoured the first few installments of The Curse Of Capistrano, and All-Story and Johnston McCulley knew they had a hit on their hands which was bigger than anyone could’ve imagined.
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