Gregory Sierra, who died as Julio Fuentes in Sanford and Son and Sgt. Miguel “Chano” amenguale over Barney Miller. He was 83 years old.
Sierra died of cancer on January 4 in Laguna Woods, California, according to a family spokesman. His death became public today.
Sierra was born in New York’s Harlem, Spain, and worked with the National Shakespeare Company and the New York Shakespeare Festival. He has also appeared in off-Broadway plays and was on standby for The Ninety Day Mistress on Broadway in 1967.
Sierra moved to Los Angeles and made guest appearances on shows like It Takes a Thief, Medical Center, The High Chaparral, Mod Squad, The Flying Nun, and Kung Fu.
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He has also appeared in films in Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970), Getting Straight (1970), Papillon (1973), The Towering Inferno (1974) and the Orson Welles project The Other Side of the Wind.
In 1972 he was cast as Julio, the sidekick of quirky junkyard entrepreneur Fred Sanford. He was featured in the second season episode “The Puerto Ricans Are Coming”. Developed by Bud Yorkin and Norman Lear, creators of All in the Family, the show led to another memorable appearance in one of their vehicles when Sierra played a radical Jewish vigilante in 1973 in the episode “Archie is Branded.”
The eclectic Sierra was later opened up to portray Carlos “El Puerco” Valdez, a Malaguayan counter-revolutionary who kidnapped Jessica (Katherine Helmond) on ABC’s soap.
Following Sanford and Son, Sierra hit comedy gold again and appeared in Barney Miller in 1975 as one of the original New York detectives. Sierra played Chano on the show.
Sierra left Barney Miller at the end of the second season and switched to another sitcom directed by Barney Miller’s creator Danny Arnold. AES Hudson Street was in an emergency room in New York but ended after just six episodes.
Sierra’s career continued as a recurring character on shows such as Hill Street Blues, Zorro and Son, Miami Vice and Murder, She Wrote and many others.
Sierra continued his steady career and also appeared in the movie The Trouble With Spies (1987), Honey, I Blow Up the Kid (1992), Hot Shots! Part Deux (1993), A Low Down Dirty Shame (1994), Vampires (1998) and Mafia! (1998).
He is survived by his wife Helene. No memorial plans were announced.