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Born in Los Angeles in 1880, Leo
Carrillo was a descendant of a long-established, aristocratic California
family who could trace his heritage back to the conquistadors. His
great-grandfather was the first provisional governor of California, while
his father was the first mayor of Santa Monica. Carrillo decided to go for
an engineering degree while attending Loyola University even thou his
parents wanted him to be a priest.
A talented caricaturist, Carrillo secured a job as a political cartoonist at
the San Francisco Examiner. At the encouragement of his fellow employees, he
decided to parlay his gift for mimicry and dialects into a vaudeville
career. Carrillo first attracted attention as a dialect comedian in
vaudeville. He went on to provide comedy relief for several stage plays and
musical productions. Carrillo first attracted attention as a dialect
comedian in vaudeville. He broke into movies in the late 1920s, just as
sound was coming in.
Leo most often played a malapropistic Latin character. He was sometimes a
heavy, but more often played the fool. For all the stereotypical Latinos he
portrayed on screen Leo Carrillo was actually an intelligent, literate man.
He first played Pancho the Sidekick to Duncan Renaldo's Cisco in a 1950
series of B Westerns. Leo's greatest fame came from his portrayal of Pancho,
the mischievous sidekick to Duncan Renaldo's Cisco Kid in a television
series of the early 1950's. The first television production to be shot
entirely in color, its 156 action-western episodes ran for six enormously
popular years. Though well into his seventies, Carrillo claimed to be in his
mid-fifties so that the company would qualify for insurance coverage.
As active in California politics and civic affairs as his forebears, Leo
Carrillo was in charge of the annual Fiesta de Santa Barbara, and at one
juncture was appointed to the State Park Commission; there still exists a
California State park beach named in Carrillo's honor. (Leo Carrillo State
Park and Leo Carrillo beach)
Leo married Edith Haeselbarth in 1940(?) and they had one child, Antoinette.
Proud of his Californian heritage, he wrote a book, The California I Love in
1961.Leo died in 1961.
To find out more on Leo and the Leo Carrillo Ranch Community Park.