Gregory Sierra of ‘Barney Miller’ dies of cancer

Actor Gregory Sierra

70’s sitcom actor Gregory Sierra died at age 83 from cancer on January 4, 2021 according to a family spokesman, however his death was just made public today. He was notably neighbor with a goat Julio Fuentes on Sanford and Son and Sgt. Miguel “Chano” Amenguale on Barney Miller.

Sierra was born in New York’s Spanish Harlem, and worked with the National Shakespeare Company and in the New York Shakespeare Festival. He also appeared in off-Broadway plays and was a standby on Broadway for The Ninety Day Mistress in 1967.

Once he moved to Los Angeles, Sierra had guest appearances on such shows as It Takes a Thief, Medical Center, The High Chaparral, Mod Squad, The Flying Nun and Kung Fu.  

He also played many supporting roles in feature films at the time including 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. 

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In 1972, he was cast as Julio, the sidekick to curmudgeonly junkyard entrepreneur Fred Sanford. He was introduced in the second season episode, “The Puerto Ricans Are Coming.” The show, developed by All in the Family creators Bud Yorkin and Norman Lear, led to another memorable appearance in one of their vehicles, as Sierra played a radical Jewish vigilante in the episode “Archie is Branded” in 1973.

The versatile Sierra went on to play Carlos “El Puerco” Valdez, a Malaguayan counter-revolutionist who kidnaps Jessica (Katherine Helmond) on ABC’s Soap.

After his success on Sanford and Son, Sierra, appeared in 1975 as one of the original New York detectives in Barney Miller where he played Chano on the show.

Sierra left Barney Miller at the end of the second season and moved to another sitcom helmed by Barney Miller creator Danny Arnold called A.E.S. Hudson Street which was set in a New York emergency room, but ended after just six episodes.

Sierra’s career continued as a recurring character on such shows as Hill Street Blues, Zorro and Son, Miami Vice, and Murder, She Wrote, among many others.

Continuing his steady career, Sierra also appeared in such films as The Trouble With Spies (1987), Honey, I Blew Up the Kid (1992), Hot Shots! Part Deux (1993), A Low Down Dirty Shame (1994), Vampires (1998) and Mafia! (1998).

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He is survived by his wife, Helene. No memorial plans have been announced.

SOURCE: The Wrap