Gregory Sierra, who played major supporting roles on classic 1970s sitcoms including Sanford And Son and Barney Miller, has died at age 83.
The New York City–born actor passed away on January 4, but a spokesman for his family only shared the news on Friday via
He died of cancer in Laguna Woods,
Television star: Gregory Sierra, best known for being a regular on Sanford And Son and Barney Miller in the 1970s, died in Laguna Woods, California, on January 4 of cancer at age 84
In 1972, Sierra began one of his most popular roles as Julio Fuentes on the sitcom Sanford And Son, which starred Redd Foxx and Demond Wilson as the title characters.
His character Julio, a New York-born Puerto Rican, moves in next to Fred and Lamont Sanford in the show’s second season.
Julio had an often testy relationship with Foxx’s bigoted lead, who repeatedly told him to go back to Puerto Rico, though Lamont often tried to smooth out their differences.
In 1975, Sierra joined the police comedy Barney Miller as Sgt. Miguel ‘Chano’ Amanguale.
Laugh riot: In 1972, Sierra began one of his most popular roles as Julio Fuentes on the sitcom Sanford And Son, which starred Redd Foxx and Demond Wilson as the title characters; still from Sanford And Son
The enforcer: In 1975, Sierra joined the police comedy Barney Miller as Sgt. Miguel ‘Chano’ Amanguale, who stole the show in the dramatic episode The Hero; still from Barney Miller
His character provided comic relief with outbursts in Spanish when he got overheated.
The comic series took a serious turn with the episode The Hero, in which Chano gunned down two suspects to prevent a robbery.
Although his costars, including Hal Linden as the title character and Abe Vigoda as Sgt. Fish, recommend him for a commendation, he’s overcome with guilt.
‘I think Barney Miller is much more real than any other cop show,’ Sierra said in an interview for the 1976 critical study TV Talk 2: Exploring TV Territory, via
‘The people in the show have real problems. Kojak never worries. He knows he’s got it made. Everything is always under control on that show. You never see the frustrations of police work or the kind of joking that goes on among real policemen. Those are the kinds of things we show on.’
Bad timing: Sierra was written off Barney Miller with no explanation after the second season so that he could star on the sitcom A.E.S. Hudson Street, which was set in an emergency room and led by Barney Miller creator Danny Arnold; seen on the Barney Miller set in 1974
Sierra, who was born in New York City’s Spanish Harlem, also had a notable role on All In The Family’s 1973 episode Archie Is Branded as a ‘radical Jewish vigilante.’
Sierra was written off Barney Miller with no explanation after the second season so that he could star on the sitcom A.E.S. Hudson Street, which was set in an emergency room and led by Barney Miller creator Danny Arnold.
However, the show only lasted for six episodes before being canceled.
Sierra continued to have important recurring roles on the police drama Hill Street Blues, Miami Vice and Murder, She Wrote.
Varied career: Sierra also appeared on film with roles in Beneath The Planet Of The Apes, Papillon and The Towering Inferno; pictured with Alan Thicke on Growing Pains
Sierra was best known for his work on television, but he appeared in high-profile films throughout his career.
He played a mutant in 1970s Beneath The Planet Of The Apes and appeared alongside Dustin Hoffman and Steve McQueen in the prison break classic Papillon.
He played a bartender in the 1974 disaster film The Towering Inferno and had a small part in 1992’s Honey I Blew Up The Kid.
Sierra’s last released film was Orson Welle’s experimental movie The Other Side Of The Wind, which was filmed throughout the early and mid-1970s, but not completed and released until 2018.
Final role: Sierra’s last-released film role was in Orson Welle’s experimental film The Other Side Of The Wind, which was filmed in the early to mid-1970s but not completed until 2018; pictured on Farrell For The People