Actor Gregory Sierra, who garnered fame for his roles on 1970s sitcoms Sanford and Son and Barney Miller, has died according to Deadline. A family spokesman for the New York native announced the actor passed on January 4 from cancer. He is survived by his wife, Helene.
According to Deadline, Sierra settled his acting roots in the theatre being a member of both the National Shakespeare Company and the New York Shakespeare Festival. Sierra later moved to Los Angeles to pursue his acting career full time, landing guest appearances on several shows such as Medical Center, Mod Squad, and The Flying Nun.
Sierra’s big break came in 1972 via the TV world of creators Bud Yorkin (Maude, Divorce American Style) and Norman Lear (One Day at a Time, Good Times). According to Deadline, he landed a role opposite Redd Foxx (Harlem Nights, Sanford) on Sanford and Son. The comedy about an inscrutable junkyard owner cast Sierra as Julio Fuentes. He first appeared in a season two episode entitled “The Puerto Ricans Are Coming.” Because of this career-launching role, Sierra also appeared in the Carroll O’Connor (In the Heat of the Night, Return to Me) vehicle All in the Family. The versatile actor portrayed a Jewish man in the 1973 episode “Archie is Branded.”
According to Deadline, Sierra followed his supporting role on Sanford and Son with an original role in 1975’s Barney Miller. Here Sierra portrayed Sgt. Miguel “Chano” Amenguale, one of the many New York detectives opposite Hal Linden (Out to Sea, Jack’s Place). While the series aired for eight seasons, Sierra departed the show after the second season. He landed a starring role on the medical sitcom, A.E.S. Hudson Street, but the series was canceled after six episodes.
Sierra appeared in many roles across TV and film throughout his career. According to Deadline, he recurred in shows such as Hill Street Blues, Zorro and Son, Miami Vice, and Murder She Wrote. He played a pivotal role on ABC’s Soap as Carlos “El Perco” Valdez. The character was a counter-revolutionist who kidnapped Jessica, played by Katherin Helmond (Who’s the Boss, Everybody Loves Raymond). Later in his career, he appeared in films such as Honey, I Blew Up the Kid, A Low Down Dirty Shame, Vampires, and Mafia!.