If Edward James Olmos had followed the first love of his life, he would have been a professional baseball player. But by age 13, another love entered his life: rock music. By age 15, he was already an experienced rock singer, forming and reforming several "garage bands" along the way. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, he played the most famous clubs on Sunset Strip, including Gazzarri's and The Factory. But a friend suggested that, with his flair for the dramatic, he consider a career in acting. Throughout the 1970s, he divided his time between rock music gigs, acting classes, bit parts in television, Off-off-off Broadway plays and his business of moving fine furniture (which kept body, soul and family together). His first big break was a starring role in Luis Valdez's play, "Zoot Suit", in 1978. The play moved to Broadway and led to a Tony Award nomination and great critical acclaim.
Perhaps best known for his role as Lt. Martin Castillo in the NBC television series "Miami Vice" (1984) (1984-1989), Olmos has been seen in numerous film and television productions. He received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his starring role in Stand and Deliver (1988). Most notable of his recent offerings is American Me (1992), which was also his directing debut. But acting, directing and screenwriting are only parts of what he does. Olmos contends he would much rather be known as an activist than an actor. He devotes much of his time to causes, particularly those focusing on the needs and rights of children. He makes, on average, some 150 personal appearances a year to places where he can reach kids at risk; juvenile halls, detention centers, boys/girls clubs, schools. Anywhere he can get across his message that "we all have a choice" about where life takes us.
Olmos stresses the importance of education, the risks of gang life and tries to promote the notion of taking responsibility for one's own actions and one's own happiness in life. Using his own "disadvantaged background" as an example (he grew up in East Los Angeles, infamous for its gang problems), he tells the kids, "If I can do it, so can you". And he tries to point them in a positive direction. He has served as an ambassador for UNICEF and has received numerous accolades for his activism. He will long be remembered for getting out in the thick of the Los Angeles Riots of 1992 with his broom: one calm, reasonable presence in the midst of chaos and gunfire. Edward James Olmos was married to actress Lorraine Bracco. Between them they have 6 children, ages 10 - 25.
|Lymari Nadal||(2002 - present)|
|Lorraine Bracco||(28 January 1994 - 4 March 2002) (divorced)|
|Kaija Keel||(29 December 1971 - 1992) (divorced) 2 children|
Frequently plays men of authority and/or power who inspire and enlighten those beneath him
Deep gravelly voice
Rough facial features
Drove a red Porsche Turbo, which he bought in Miami at a sale of articles confiscated in drug-busts. "He got 30 years. I got the car!". But soon afterwards the Porsche was stolen.
Sentenced to 20 days in prison for trespassing in April 2000 on United States Navy land on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques. Olmos and others were protesting the use of the island as a bombing test ground. President George W. Bush promised to end the testing in 2003. [10 August 2001]
Former son-in-law of the late actor Howard Keel.
Was nominated for Broadway's 1979 Tony Award as Best Actor (Featured Role - Play) for "Zoot Suit", a part he recreated in the film version of the same name, Zoot Suit (1981).
Says that he is Aztec and Spanish ancestry.
Declined an offer from director Michael Mann to reprise the role of Lt. Martin Castillo in the movie version of Miami Vice (2006). He was the only cast member from the original "Miami Vice" (1984) series who was approached to appear in the rebooted movie version of the series.
He graduated from Montebello High School in Montebello, California.
Was auctioned off for charity (lunch at the famed Polo Lounge in Beverly Hills) and "purchased" by Vicki Roberts.
Agreed to the role of William Adama on the "Battlestar Galactica" (2004) remake only on the condition that the stories reflect as much realism and credibility as possible.
Graduated from California State University Los Angeles (Cal State L.A.) which is located in the northern part of his hometown of East Los Angeles.
Lives in Encino, California.
Was offered the role of Jean-Luc Picard in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (1987). He would have been contractually obligated to work exclusively on the series, and not do any other projects while under contract. Olmos wanted the flexibility to be able to work on multiple projects, and declined the role on that basis. Patrick Stewart was eventually cast in the role.
Friend of Constance Marie.
Sometimes you gotta do things that you don't really want to do. But you don't do them for money.
On "Miami Vice" (1984) and "Battlestar Galactica" (2004): "Miami", although it took place among policemen, wasn't about reality. It exploited reality to entertain. "Battlestar" is another thing. Despite it being set in space, it deals with real stuff.
I was the highest-paid actor -- per word -- in the history of television! (commenting on his role as "Lt. Castillo" on "Miami Vice" (1984))
(2000, on an ideal day getting away from it all) I would drive to Joshua Tree and spend the night there in my sleeping bag. The desert--it's spiritual and Joshua Tree has some wonderful flatlands and rock formations. There are places to stay too, little hotels. But sleeping outside is what's wonderful. It's so darkly clear, and there's no light from the city so the stars are very impressive.
(2000) I love to drive. It's one of the most pleasurable things to me. I have a 1986 Porsche--it's got over 100,000 miles on it. Most people don't drive their Porches at all, but I drive mine like most people drive their Volkswagen.
[on Lupe Ontiveros] There were people who would stop her and say things. She'd explain she felt the same way they did. As an actor, she had this incredible ability to make you believe.
(December 2002) Narrarates the Candlelight Processional at EPCOT (Walt Disney World) during the Christmas seasons.
(June 2005) Currently starring in the Sci-Fi Channel's highly acclaimed new series, "Battlestar Galactica" (2004). He accepted the role of Commander Adama for the 2003 "Battlestar Galactica" miniseries and stayed on in the part when the Sci-Fi Channel decided to turn the miniseries into a regular series. He is currently in Vancouver filming the second season of the show.
(July 2005) On July 15, 2005, he began directing the drama film Walkout (2006) (TV) for HBO.
(March 2008) On March 3, 2008, he and Robert M. Young visited Madrid (Spain) to attend a show about their career.
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