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An exceptionally handsome and charismatic performer with an Italian American baritone voice, Guy Williams was born Armand Joseph Catalano (nicknamed Armando by his family) of European Italian parentage in New York City on January 14, 1924. The elder child of an insurance broker (he had a younger sister, Valerie), he was raised in the Washington Heights area. Attending Peekskill Military Academy during his formative years, he originally broke into the entertainment field as a male fashion model. Guy subsequently joined New York's Neighborhood Playhouse, which led to such TV assignments as Studio One in Hollywood (1948), and he debuted in films with a featured role as a pilot in the The Beginning or the End (1947), the story about the first US-deployed atom bomb.
In 1952 he was given a screen test and signed by Universal Pictures. As tall, dark and athletic (6'3", 190 lb.) in Hollywood he nearly always fits the bill, and the highly photogenic Williams began paying his dues in unbilled bits in such standard movies as Back at the Front (1952), All I Desire (1953), The Golden Blade (1953) and Take Me to Town (1953). When he did manage to receive billing, he was rather benignly used: Bonzo Goes to College (1952) (sequel to Ronald Reagan's cult classic Bedtime for Bonzo (1951), The Mississippi Gambler (1953) with Tyrone Power, and The Man from the Alamo (1953) with Glenn Ford.
Guy eventually left Universal and freelanced in films, which would include a minor role as a cop in the cult horror classic I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957) starring Michael Landon, and also added scattered TV appearances such as Highway Patrol (1955) and The Lone Ranger (1949)) to his resumé. Nothing, however, of major significance happened until Walt Disney came into the picture when Williams was signed, at age 33, to play Don Diego de la Vega, aka Zorro (1957). This thrust Williams immediately into the celebrity limelight. His dashing good looks, eloquence and charm had female hearts fluttering, while the male audiences admired his fencing dexterity and effortless ladies' man appeal. The Disney series was so popular that certain episodes were put together and released into two feature films: The Sign of Zorro (1958) and Zorro, the Avenger (1959).
Further propelled by Disney with his captivating role in Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color: The Prince and the Pauper: The Pauper King (1962), Guy was handed fully-bearded heroes to play in a couple of fantasy film adventuresj, portraying Damon in the costumer Damon and Pythias (1962) and the title role in Captain Sindbad (1963), an MGM attraction. In 1964 he reunited with Teen Werewolf Michael Landon when he arrived on the Bonanza (1959) set to play cousin Will Cartwright for a few episodes.
The cult sci-fi series Lost in Space (1965) would be Guy's last hurrah in show business. Although overshadowed extensively by the nefariously campy antics of Jonathan Harris' Dr. Smith character, Guy nevertheless provided a necessary strong anchor to the family show, which included June Lockhart as the silver-suited wife and mother of his three intergalactic offspring. Battling aliens and the forces of nature, the show's popularity went stratospheric at first. However, much like Batman (1966), it faded very quickly and ended up having a short life—three seasons. John Robinson, Williams' character on "Lost in Space" (1965), was ranked #38 in TV Guide's list of the "50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time" (20 June 2004 issue). Williams was nicknamed the Comb by Lost in Space co-star Bill Mumy because he would frequently comb his hair between takes on the set.
When Williams first visited Argentina in 1973 he was quite taken by the admiration and fascination the Argentines expressed for him and his signature character of "El Zorro." In turn he fell in love with the people and culture of Argentina. Eventually he retired in the 1970's, except for personal appearances, to Recoleta, an upscale neighborhood of Buenos Aires. He died there of a brain aneurysm at the age of 65. His body was found on May 7, 1989, but he had already been dead for a number of days. He was last seen alive on April 30. His ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Malibu, California, USA. Long married (since 1948) to Janice Cooper, he was survived by their two children, Steven Catalano and Toni Catalano. In 2001, (August 2), he was posthumously granted a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, at 7080 Hollywood Blvd, after petitions from thousands of his fans in front of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce in 2000.