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|Gene Sheldon as Bernardo.|
(1908-02-01)February 1, 1908
Columbus, Ohio, U.S.
|Deceased||May 1, 1982(1982-05-01)
Tarzana, California, U.S.
|Wife/Husband||Margaret McCann (1944-?)|
Gene Sheldon (February 1, 1908 – May 1, 1982) was an American comic actor specializing in pantomime.
His real name was Eugene Hume. Since he was young he worked in various films and radios in the United States. Although he had a long career in acting, his main fame came during a period of five years in which he worked for Walt Disney Studios. In this stage, he carried out the character of Bernardo, the silent assistant of El Zorro in the series made between 1957 and 1959. Gene Sheldon died on May 1, 1982 after a heart attack.
Early life and first papers
Named Eugene Hume in Columbus, Ohio, he began performing at an early age, serving as assistant stage to his father Earl, a magician. Her initial tasks included acting as a child, dressing appropriately but not talking. Sheldon also worked as a radio announcer at 17, on the radio in Toledo, Ohio. His film debut was in 1934 in the movie Susie’s Affairs, as the banjo player Slug. The following year, he made a brief appearance to play the banjo in the musical Roberta, along with an incipient Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Sheldon appeared in the Broadway magazine Priorities of 1942, acting as a comedian banjista, in which he did not speak, who wears a costume similar to the wardrobe of the silent film comic Harry Langdon and imitating some of the distinctive gestures of this one. In the 1950s and 60s, most of Sheldon’s work was in Walt Disney programs. An act often seen in episodes of Golden Horseshoe Saloon, from the anthology of Walt Disney television series, was like a banjo player left with his fingers trapped in the strings. After several minutes, he finally untangled his fingers and played a vigorous riff with his banjo. Sheldon appeared in a paper with voice as a genius Ali in the 1945 musical film. Where do we go from here? and in the 1960 film Toby Tyler, in which he plays Sam Treat, a clown and animal trainer, who is one of Toby’s mentors and protectors. Another of Toby’s protectors, the rude car driver Ben Cotter, was played by Henry Calvin, who co-starred in The Zorro as Sergeant Garcia. Sheldon starred in Disney’s 1961 version of Victor Herbert Babes in Toyland’s operetta, which was released during the holiday season. He was once again associated with Calvin, as a sort of surrogate for Laurel and Hardy’s team (Laurel and Hardy had participated in the 1934 version of Babes in Toyland).
Like Bernardo in El Zorro
The most remembered paper of Sheldon was Bernardo, the mute (but not deaf) servant of Diego in El Zorro. According to what is established in the first episode of the series, when Diego de la Vega confides to Bernardo his intention to pretend to be a weak intellectual, rather than a man of action, Bernardo decides to support him by posing as deaf. In this way, Bernardo is able to spy for Diego / El Zorro without arousing suspicion. This characterization, an innovation in the deaf Bernardo of the original story, used Sheldon’s pantomime skills while integrating the character more into the series. As with Sergeant Garcia, Bernardo was usually accompanied in his appearances by a humorous musical theme. Sheldon repeated the role in four new Zorro adventures that appeared in Walt Disney’s television series anthology in 1960-1961.
Sheldon died in Tarzana, Los Angeles, California, from a heart attack on May 1, 1982. His body was incinerated.
More Facts about Gene Sheldon
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