Britt Lomond--The Dastardly Monastario
Posted: Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:04 pm
Britt Lomond brought to life one of the most dastardly TV villains ever--Capitan Enrique Sanchez Monastario, Commandante of Pueblo de los Angeles.
Lomond served as a paratrooper during World War II in the Pacific theater. The scars on his right cheek were from combat and he earned three Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star, and a Silver Star.
Following the war, Lomond attended New York University in New York City, earning a Master in Fine Arts degree. It was during his university days that he joined the fencing team and began to study the art under masters such as Nederkerchner and Pichard. Following graduation, he worked as an illustrator and designed sets for a Long Island summer stock company. He began acting when one of the actors in the company was sick and Lomond was the only one who could fit into the costume.
Lomond continued to study fencing and, by 1951, he ranked 25th among amateur fencers in the U.S. In 1952, he qualified for the U.S. Olympic fencing team. However, he turned pro that year when he doubled Mel Ferrer in a fencing scene in the movie Scaramouche.
He moved to California, where he continued to study fencing, first under Ralph Faulkner and then under Italian fencing master Aldo Nadi. It was at Nadi's studio that Lomond met fellow fencer Guy Williams.
When auditions were being held for the new Disney Zorro, Lomond auditioned for the title role as well as the role of Monastario. As a blue-eyed blond, he dyed his hair for the screen test in hopes of being cast as Zorro. Turned out Guy Williams also auditioned for both parts. In the end, Walt Disney wanted Lomond for Zorro and Williams for Monastario but director Norman Foster wanted Williams for Zorro and Lomond for Monastario. Disney finally conceded to Foster and the rest is television history.
Fencing master Fred Cravens was hired by Disney to create and choreograph the fencing scenes in Zorro. Cravens loaned Lomond the saber wielded in movies by Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. Both Lomond and Williams were such good fencers that both men did the vast majority of their own fencing (note--occasionally it does appear as if there's a double but that may be the result of a snippet of a scene having to be refilmed).
In the episode Zorro Saves a Friend, the duel between Monastario and Zorro takes place on a scaffold. The stuntmen refused to do the scene, so Lomond and Williams did it. Per Lomond:
I do not really know what happened between Guy and I, but we both looked at each other and, without saying a word, we climbed on the scaffolding and took up our positions on the flimsy boards. I yelled down to the cameraman, Gordon Avil, to rol his three cameras that had been setup to film the sequence on the second story level of the church scaffolding. He did. With a shrug from the puzzled director, and the call "Action!" Guy and I started fencing without another word from anyone.
We did the fencing routine perfectly the first time, and while the cameras were still rolling, we repeated the routine for a second time (the old "Safety Copy"). The studio had enough footage to cut and edit the sequence to everyone's satisfaction.
It was, without a doubt, one of the most difficult fencing routines I have ever done. Trying to remember each movement of the routine was not the real difficulty, although we had only a few minutes to memorize it. The footing beneath us was the real problem.
Those planks were not stable, so if you watch our routine carefully, you will see both Guy and I slip several times as we fenced. We were attempting to keep our footing on those rough construction boards that kept sliding underneath our feet on the platform as we slashed and cut at each other to make the fencing routine look real and dangerous. The funny part is, it was dangerous, damn dangerous, although the audience never knew the reality of the situation.
When Guy and I had finished doing the routine twice, the camera operator, Travil Hill, climbed on the scaffolding with a camera on his shoulder and we repeated the routine while he shot close-ups on Guy and myself. Let me tell you, Travil was not too thrilled about doing that close-up camera work up there on that scaffolding, either.
The whole sequence was over in less than forty minutes. I could not believe we had done everything required of us in less than an hour! To be truthful, neither could anyone else on the set, including the director.
Just remember when you see those shots of us on the scaffolding: there are no doubles; Guy and I did everything up there ourselves, the entire fencing routine on those skinny, slippery boards of the upper scaffolding.
You can watch the duel here (it begins at 2:11) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tciTy7ommog
When Lomond's Monastario began receiving as much fanmail as Williams' Zorro, Walt Disney decided to remove the competition. Disney felt bad about doing it, so he kept Lomond under contract and both Williams and Lomond appeared in character and costume at Disneyland to duel for the crowds.
Lomond continued to act once his contract with Disney was up but he transitioned to a role behind the camera, as an assistant director, producer, as well as a production manager. As an assistant director, he worked on several TV series (including Battlestar Galactica and McGyver), the movie Midnight Run, and Prince's music video for the song Purple Rain. As a production manager, he worked on the movie Somewhere in Time as well as the TV series Falcon Crest.
Lomond passed away on March 22, 2006 at the age of 80, survived by his wife of nearly 50 years and their two children.
Info for this biography is from:
Chasing After Zorro by Britt Lomond
The Zorro Television Companion by Gerry Dooley
Guy Williams The Man Behind the Mask by Antoinette Girgenti Lane