About Leopoldo Antonio Carrillo
Although he played stereotypical Latinos, Leo Carrillo was part of an old and respected Californian family who could trace his roots back to the conquistadores. He is best remembered for his role from the television series The Cisco Kid, on which he portrayed the sidekick Pancho, a role that he had previously played in several films. For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Leo Carrillo has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1635 Vine Street.
He was born Leopoldo Antonio Carrillo on August 6, 1881 in Los Angeles, California, the son of Juan José Carrillo. His great-grandfather Carlos Antonio Carrillo was the first provisional governor of California, and his grandfather Pedro Carrillo had been sent east to be educated in Boston. The family moved from San Diego to Los Angeles then to Santa Monica, where Leo Carrillo's father served as the city's first mayor.
His parents wanted him to be a priest, but Carrillo decided to go for an engineering degree while attending Loyola University. A talented caricaturist, Carrillo secured a job as a political cartoonist at the San Francisco Examiner after graduating. At the encouragement of his fellow employees, Carrillo decided to parlay his gift for mimicry and dialects into a vaudeville career. He went on to provide comedy relief for several stage plays and musical productions, starring in one tailor-made vehicle, Lombardi Ltd.
In Hollywood, he appeared in more than 90 films and was frequently cast as excitable, malaprop-ridden Spaniards and Italians in supporting or character roles. From 1950 through 1955, Carrillo co-starred with Duncan Renaldo in the popular TV western series The Cisco Kid, playing Cisco's sidekick Pancho, a role that he had previously played in several films. After The Cisco Kid ended production, Carrillo appeared in the episode "Rescue at Sea" of the syndicated military drama, Men of Annapolis.
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 beach named in Carrillo's honor.
Carrillo died of cancer on September 10, 1961, aged 80, and was interred in Santa Monica's Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery.