ZALDY ZSHORNACK: GOOD-BYE TO A VERSATILE ACTOR
Manila, November 28, 2002 (STAR) STAR BYTES by Butch Francisco - Although Christmas – a time of merriment – is fast approaching, the local entertainment industry continues to mourn the passing away of some of its beloved people. During the last two weeks, we saw four of them pass on to the other world: Zaldy Zshornack, Chaning Carlos, Oscar Miranda and Rading Carlos. I’m publishing below their obituaries – starting with Zaldy Zshornack.
In the late ‘50s, the local entertainment scene gave LVN star Lou Salvador, Jr. the tag "James Dean of the Philippines." A few years before that, however, another studio also tried to build up Zaldy Zshornack in the mold of the Rebel Without a Cause star via the film Barumbado.
Zshornack, however, was smart enough not to have allowed himself to be pigeonholed into the brooding rebel type. He therefore enjoyed a wide variety of roles at the peak of his film career.
Of Polish-Filipino stock, Zaldy (whose province was Camarines Sur) was born Jose Rizaldy Zshornack in Manila on Rizal Day – Dec. 30, 1938. He finished high school at the Manila Central University.
Zshornack started quite young in the movies – in Premiere Productions’ Sisa (directed by Gerry de Leon), starring Anita Linda. He shot to fame, however, in the Lo-Waist Gang series of Pablo Santiago – along with Fernando Poe, Jr., Bobby Gonzales and Boy Sta. Romana. Prior to this, he also did another juvenile flick, Ukulele Boy.
From teen movies, he also tried action and drama in the films Kamay ni Cain, Pusakal, Batang Pier, Tippin (with Lani Oteyza), Anak ng Lasengga, Asintado and Falcon. Comic roles were no problem to him either because he was a comedian in real life. His humor, in fact, was very much like the comedy style of Panchito.
When it came to sports, Zaldy was a champion golfer and could always be counted on to play basketball at all-star exhibition matches – especially those for charity.
To prove further his versatility, he also did light musical romances with the most celebrated Fil-Am star of the late ‘50s, former Miss Hawaii-Philippines winner, Shirley Gorospe. (She was the favorite model of then top fashion designer Ruben Panis.) "Zaldy was a very graceful dancer and was very light on his feet," remembers director Al Quinn, who used to choreograph some of Premiere Productions’ big musicals.
As a love team, Zaldy and Shirley starred in the following films: Sweethearts, Shirley, My Darling, You’re My Everything and an episode in Obra Maestra. When their love team later blossomed into a real-life romance and ended up in the altar, Zaldy and Shirley still continued doing films together, Hong Kong Honeymoon, Fil-American Girl, among several others.
But with two kids to raise – Garizaldy and Gino – Shirley later went on semi-retirement. Zaldy, however, went on with his showbiz career even long after his contract with Premiere expired. Under his own film outfit, ZZ Productions, he produced a string of films – Bangketa, among them.
When the bomba craze hit the local movies, Zaldy once more proved that he could adjust to changes in film tastes. No, he didn’t exactly do bomba scenes. At least not the way Ricky Rogers or even Vic Vargas did it. But he did agree to show some skin in Mga Batong Buhay in 1970 and in his other subsequent films.
Zaldy remained very productive up to the mid-‘70s. It was during this period, in fact, when he began reaping citations for his performances: FAMAS nominations for Batingaw and Hindi na Sisikat ang Araw and the 1972 Best Actor award for De la Cruz in the 1972 Quezon City Film Festival. Another award-winning film he did during this phase of his career was Nueva Vizcaya (with Vic Vargas and Evangeline Reyes), which won the Best Picture trophies in both the Manila Film Festival and the FAMAS in 1973.
Zaldy and his family migrated to the US toward the late ‘70s. They stayed there for quite some time – until they decided to return to the country in April 1990. I remember this because we were trying to get the couple to come to the 13th Gawad Urian at the CCP as presenters. Unfortunately, Zaldy politely declined the invitation because he was quite big that time and wanted to lose a little more weight before appearing in public. Eventually, he accepted an offer from Rudy Fernandez (who – with wife Lorna Tolentino – ran and operated Reflection Films) to appear as a model police official in Kaaway ng Batas. This earned for him a best supporting actor nomination from the Film Academy of the Philippines.
After that, however, nothing much was heard about Zaldy Zshornack – until it was announced in the papers that he died of cardiac arrest at the Asian Hospital as a result of his long battle with diabetes. His death saw the passing away not only of a matinee idol, but also of one of the most versatile actors ever produced by local cinema.
(On Saturday: Remembering Chaning Carlos, Oscar Miranda and Rading Carlos.)
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
2002 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS
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