Ten Fun Facts About Panchito Pistoles
Some of Disney’s most iconic characters are birds. Donald Duck is the obvious example, but there is also Aladdin’s Iago, Mr. Stork from Dumbo, Scuttle from The Little Mermaid, and Zazu from The Lion King.
Though he is slightly less well known, Panchito Pistoles deserves to be ranked among their number. He has been entertaining audiences for over 75 years and shows no sign of slowing down.
1. His Full Name is a Mouthful
Several variations of Panchito’s name have been given over the years, but you’ll have to take a pretty deep breath to say any of them. Officially, his full moniker is, “Panchito Romero Miguel Junipero Francisco Quintero Gonzalez.”
A 1943 comic book refers to him as, “El Gayo José Francisco Alisandro de Lima y de la Loma Pancho Alegre”.
It’s a bit easier just to refer to him by one of his nicknames, such as Pancho, Paco, or Paquito. You might have also noticed that Pistoles does not appear in his full name. It’s most likely a nickname based on the pistols he carries.
2. How Tall is He?
As revealed in the “Mexico a Go-Go” episode of “The Legend of the Three Caballeros,” he stands 3’ 8”. That’s a pretty tall bird, given that the average rooster stands around 2’ 3”.
3. A Goodwill Tour
The genesis of the character can be traced back to Walt Disney’s government-sponsored trip to South America. Walt traveled with 15 studio employees and two studio wives. The government viewed the journey as part of a coordinated effort to generate goodwill between the Americas, while Disney utilized it as a chance to conduct research for future films.
Two movies came directly from the experience. The first was 1942’s Saludos Amigos. The second film would serve as Panchito’s debut.
4. The Three Caballeros
Disney’s 7th animated feature film, The Three Caballeros, was released in 1944. The movie was a package film, which blended animation with live-action segments.
Donald Duck is the main character, opening gifts from his various friends in South and Central America. He receives three packages, the third of which contains Panchito himself!
He, Donald, and a parrot named José dub themselves the Three Caballeros (celebrating their new friendship in song form), before Panchito explains the tradition of the piñata.
5. The Man Behind the Rooster
Actor and singer Joaquin Garay provided the original voice for Panchito. Prior to working with Disney, Garay had already established himself as a radio and nightclub entertainer. He even opened the popular Copacabana in San Francisco (not the Copa from the famed Barry Manilow song. That was in New York).
Liner notes to the album ‘A Night at Joaquin Garay’s Copacabana’ described the club like this, “Located on fabulous Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, city of cable cars and night clubs, is colorful COPACABANA. Called ‘COPA’ for short, folks find the singing of a favorite son, and the rhythms of a favorite maestro, very much to their liking, [as evidenced by] the fact that over a half million minimum charges have passed through the Copa bookkeeping records since 1941 — the year Copacabana was born. That favorite son, is, of course, Joaquin Garay.”
6. The Faithful Steed
In addition to being handy with pistols, Panchito is a gaucho (or a cowboy, as is explained in the Saludos Amigos segment “El Gaucho Goofy”). As such, he obviously has to have a horse.
We meet his mount in a 1944 comic written by Bill Walsh and drawn by Paul Murray. In the strip, we learn that his horse is named Señor Martinez. He later appeared in comics created by Don Rosa. However, in Rosa’s comics, he is more realistic, while the earliest version was highly anthropomorphized.
7. He Has a Gal Pal
It seems like the majority of classic Disney characters have some romantic partner, and Panchito is no exception. Like The Great Gonzo, he has an affinity for chickens. Only it makes sense in his case because he’s a rooster, not a whatever.
To be specific, Panchito has been depicted as being in a relationship with Clara Cluck, the operatic hen.
8. World War II
The 201st Fighter Squadron of the Mexican Air Force adopted Panchito as their mascot during World War II. His image was also painted on a North American B-25 Mitchell in the U.S. Air Force. The bomber operated in the Central Pacific theatre from 1943 until the fall of 1944.
9. Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros
When Epcot opened in 1982, it included a boat ride attraction in the Mexico Pavilion in World Showcase called El Rio del Tiempo, The River of Time. It provided Guests with a tour of Mexican history. It remained open until 2007 when it was replaced by the Gran Fiesta Tour featuring Panchito, Donald Duck, and Jose Carioca.
The end of the attraction includes audio-animatronic figures of The Three Caballeros, which were previously part of the Mickey Mouse Revue.
10. The Legend Continues to Grow…
Panchito came storming back into the limelight as part of the series, “The Legend of the Three Caballeros”. The cartoon debuted in the Philippines in 2018 and came to Disney + in the fall of 2019.
In it, we learn that Panchito, Jose, and Donald are the descendants of a legendary group of heroes known as The Three Caballeros who once stopped the evil sorcerer Felldrake. Like their ancestors, the trio is called to protect the world again from one of the sorcerer’s relatives seeking to bring him back into existence.