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Zoot Suit (1981) Poster

(1981)

Trivia

The Broadway production of "Zoot Suit" opened at the Winter Garden Theater in New York on March 25, 1979 and ran for 41 performances. Charles Aidman, Mike Gomez, Abel Franco, Darlene Bryan, Luis Manuel, Edward James Olmos, Tony Plana, Rose Portillo, Geno Silva, Dennis Stewart, and Socorro Valdez recreated their stage roles in this filmed production. Edward James Olmos was nominated for the 1979 Tony Award (New York City) for Supporting or Features Actor in a Drama for "Zoot Suit" as El Pachuco and recreated his stage role in this filmed production.
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The character of Henry Reyna was based upon the real-life zoot-suiter Henry "Hank" Leyvas, who was tried and wrongfully convicted for first-degree murder of Jose Diaz, after an incident on 1 August 1942. The film and the play that preceded it conformed to the facts of the actual case. The appeals court overturned the earlier verdict and Reyna and his friends were set free in 1945, following the Zoot Suit Riots and the banning of zoot suits in Los Angeles (courtesy of the Los Angeles City Council) in 1944. Many futures and outcomes for Reyna were given in the film and the play. In real life, Leyvas was convicted some years later for selling drugs. He served ten years and was released, and soon opened a family restaurant. He died of a heart attack in 1971.
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Marco Rodríguez, who plays Smiley, played El Pachuco in the original 1978 stage production of "Zoot Suit" at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles.
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Film debut of Robert Beltran.
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Daniel Valdez and Rose Portillo originated the roles of Henry Reyna and Della Barrios in the original 1978 stage production as well as in this film. They later went on to play Enrique and Delores Reyna, Henry's parents, in the 2017 stage revival at the Mark Taper Forum, once again directed by Luis Valdez.
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Pedro Martínez was to have a lead role, but died in a car accident before filming began.
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Was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, who deemed it "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" in 2019.
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