Born Wimberly Calvin Goodman in Dallas, Texas, he sang in the choir of his local Baptist church as a child; he was often the featured soloist. After graduating from public school he attended Southern Methodist University before pursuing a career as an actor and singer.
Calvin hosted a 1950 NBC radio show and appeared on Broadway (most notably in Kismet as the Wazir of Police). In 1952, he portrayed Big Ben on the children's TV series Howdy Doody. and made his film debut in Crime Against Joe as Red Waller four years later.
His character in Zorro, Sergeant Demetrio Lopez Garcia, was a comedic foil for Zorro and alter ego, Don Diego De La Vega (Guy Williams). Sometimes a friend (especially to Diego), sometimes a reluctant foe, Garcia is constantly outwitted by other characters, and is often his own worst enemy due to his weakness for food and drink.
Sergeant Garcia was usually accompanied onscreen by Hazel "Gil" George's humorous musical theme.
Calvin also sang the "Zorro" theme song that was heard over the opening credits. (Another version of the song, recorded by the female trio, The Chordettes, became a Top Ten hit.) Calvin's rich baritone voice also contributed to a number of musical interludes over the course of the series, singing everything from drinking songs to a serenade, and even a duet with Annette Funicello in one episode. After the series ended due to a contract dispute with ABC, he reprised the role of Garcia in all four Zorro stories that aired as part of Walt Disney Presents in 1960 and 1961.
He appeared in the 1960 film Toby Tyler as gruff wagon driver Ben Cotter, Toby's friend and protector. Toby's other mentor in the film, clown and animal trainer Sam Treat, was played by Gene Sheldon, who co-starred in Zorro as Bernardo. Toby Tyler was played by Kevin Corcoran, a prolific child actor at the studio in that era. All three actors also appeared in another Disney film, Babes in Toyland (1961).
After Zorro and his Disney contract ended, Calvin guest starred in numerous television series during the 1960s. In his appearance on an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show, his character performed a comedy sketch as Oliver Hardy, opposite Dick Van Dyke's Rob Petrie character as Stan Laurel.
He also kept in touch with other members of the Zorro cast, even traveling with Guy Williams to Argentina in 1973 to attend a charity event. He died in Dallas from throat cancer in 1975; his burial was located at its cemetery Grove Hill Memorial Park.