In the late 1960s Henry Darrow was THE ultimate Latin heartthrob on television. With a smooth, ingratiating style and a killer smile that brightened up the small screen, he also hit a cultural acting landmark as the first Hispanic actor to portray Zorro on TV.
He was born Enrique Tomás Delgado in New York City, on September 15, 1933, the first son of émigrés Enrique St. and Gloria Delgado. He made his debut at age 8 in a school play, which piqued his interest. The father moved his family (which included younger brother Dennis) back to his homeland of Puerto Rico out of prospective business concerns. While there Henry was elected president of his class at high school and attended the University of Rio Piedras as a political science and theater major. His fluency in two languages helped earn him supplementary income as an interpreter.
Henry returned to the States on scholarships received from The Little Theater of Puerto Rico and the University of Puerto Rico, and eventually received his Bachelor’s degree. He initially trained at the Pasadena Playhouse (1954), in the Los Angeles area, where he met and later married first wife, Lucy, an aspiring actress. They went on to have two children, Denise (Dee-Dee) and Tom. He began seeking employment on film and TV, making his big screen debut unbilled in the light comedy Holiday for Lovers (1959). He found steadier work, however, on TV and appeared in a number rugged series, primarily westerns, including “Wagon Train,” “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea,” “Gunsmoke,” “Bonanza” and “Daniel Boone”. On stage he continued to hone his craft in such plays as “The Alchemist” (1963) and “Dark of the Moon” (1966). While appearing in the 1965 stage production of “The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit” at the Coronet Theatre in Los Angeles, the by-now TV veteran was spotted by producer David Dortort. Dortort later remembered Henry (who was then going by the name Henry Delgado) and thought him perfect for his upcoming western series The High Chaparral (1967).
Billed now as Henry Darrow, the actor stole women’s hearts and much of the proceedings as the roguish ladies’ man Manolito Montoya, who’d rather make love than war. He reached his TV peak in the western program, which also starred Leif Erickson, Cameron Mitchell and Linda Cristal, who played his sister. The show ran for four seasons.
Following this peak, Henry went on to earn a daytime Emmy for his role on Santa Barbara (1984) after joining the cast in 1989. Although he never found a strong footing in films, his better supporting work has been seen in Badge 373 (1973) and Walk Proud (1979). TV movies have included Night Games (1974), Aloha Means Goodbye (1974), Centennial (1978) and Attica (1980). As for his enduring relationship with the famed Zorro character, Darrow is not only the first Latino Zorro on TV, but also provided the title voice for two 1980s animated series. In the early 1990s, Henry replaced Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as Zorro’s father in yet another cable reincarnation of the series. This show was shot in Spain.
Henry continued to perform on the stage with opportunities ranging from the role Iago in “Othello” to a (still-running) one-man show entitled “That Certain Cervantes”, which made its premiere in 2001. A founder of “Nosotros”, an organization that gears Hispanic actors toward non-stereotyped parts, Darrow was the inaugural winner of the Ricardo Montalban/Nosotros Award for his contributions to improving the image of Latinos. He lives in North Carolina with his second wife of many years, Lauren Levian, an actress/screenwriter/producer. The couple have been working on putting together a two person show.
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