Born on September 23rd, 1924, Rodolfo Guzmán Huerta was a professional wrestler who operated under several names before adopting “El Santo” in 1942. He started off as a rudo, but as his popularity soared El Santo came over to the side of the angels. By the 1950’s he was the most popular lucha in Mexico and the star of his own comic book. El Santo was reluctant to attempt both a wrestling and a movie career at the same time, but he was eventually convinced to appear in a supporting role in two low budget crime dramas, El Cerebro del Mal and Hombres Infernales. (These films will be released on blu-ray by Eureka later this year.) But it wasn’t until the 1960’s that the true El Santo cycle began.
The first two films, Santo contra los Zombies and Santo contra el Rey del Crimen, established the canon that all subsequent el Santo films would follow. El Santo was a mysterious crimefighter who moonlighted as a professional wrestler. He operated out of a secret headquarters crammed with amazing technology (much of which he developed himself) and aided the police on cases too tough for them to solve alone. He is the latest in a family dynasty of silver-masked heroes bearing the name, and is sworn not to reveal his true identity to anyone until he retires from his battle against injustice. El Santo is Batman without a Bruce Wayne, Doc Savage with a wrestling obsession.
Over the years, El Santo has opposed gangsters, mad scientists, Commie spies, costumed supervillains, and karate experts. But it is his battles against the supernatural that we celebrate tonight. Few cinematic heroes have fought against such a wide variety of unholy menace – werewolves, vampires, ghosts, cyclops, mummies, Martians and other aliens, descendants of Frankenstein, and even Count Dracula himself as well as the legendary La Llorona. And towards the end of his career, El Santo took on one of the most fearsome monsters of the 80’s:
Rodolfo Guzmán Huerta passed away on February 5th, 1984, but the legend of El Santo lives on.