In Carlsbad, preserving the legacy of a TV pioneer

Sunset  – September 13, 2004

When Joan Kindle moved to the San Diego County town ofCarlsbad in 1985, she was more than a little curious about theranchland below her mesa-top home. When she learned the ranch oncebelonged to Hollywood actor Leo Carrillo, curiosity led toaction.

Joan and her husband, Alan, began an 18-year quest to learn allthey could about Carrillo’s life ― and to restore his ranch.Their work blossomed last August, when Carlsbad’s 27-acre LeoCarrillo Ranch Historic Park opened to the public.

Television viewers of a certain age will have no troubleremembering Carrillo, who shot to fame as Pancho in the 1950sseries The Cisco Kid. But Pancho wasn’t Carrillo’s only role: Heappeared in 90 movies, including Viva Villa! and Manhattan Melodrama. And acting wasn’t his only talent: Heworked as a cartoonist for the San Francisco Examiner and served 18 years as a Californiaparks commissioner.

Today, when you tour the park, also known as Rancho de losQuiotes (Ranch of the Spanish Daggers), you get a good feel for thecreative life that Carrillo led. He designed many of the ranchbuildings himself, employing the Spanish adobe architecture heremembered from his youth.

To get the ranch open was no easy feat. Joan worked with thecity of Carlsbad to preserve and restore many of the ranch’sbuildings, including the main hacienda, barn, and carriage house.Alan formed the Friends of Carrillo Ranch organization to supportthe effort. And both Joan and Alan traveled up and down theCalifornia coast collecting photos and artifacts.

“Once we understood Leo Carrillo’s goals in life, it all cameinto place,” Joan says. “He was an environmentalist with strongbeliefs in education, who loved his Spanish heritage.”

LeoCarrillo’s ranch 9-5 Tue-Sat, 11-5 Sun; guided tours 11 and 1Sat, 12 and 2 Sun; free. 6200 Flying LC Lane, Carlsbad;760/476-1042. ― Hilary Townsend

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