Puerto Rican actor Gregory Sierra – best known for co-starring on Barney Miller as Detective Chano Amenguale — succumbed to cancer at the age of 83. He was born January 25, 1937 in New York City. He succumbed to cancer January 4, 2021 in Laguna Woods, CA, mere weeks before his 84th birthday, The Hollywood Reporter reported.
He was a respected stage actor in his native New York before making his mark on television as Julio Fuentes, the friendly neighbor on Sanford and Son, and appeared in the New York Shakespeare Festival.
Between the 1970s and the 1990s, he guest starred in just about everything, including three times on MacGyver, once on The X Files, once on The Munsters Today, once on The Ray Bradbury Theater, and once on Star Trek: Deep Space 9. He co-starred in the short-lived sci-fi show Something is Out There as Captain Victor Maldonado.
Sierra’s other science fiction, fantasy,and horror roles included Father Giovanni in Vampires, Verger in Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Terence Wheeler in Honey, I Blew Up the Kid, Nemo in The Clones, and both Raoul and Officer Juarez in The Flying Nun.
Although Sierra was best known for his work on sitcoms, he proved his dramatic chops with two serious moments on otherwise light-hearted shows. On All in the Family, he guest starred as Jewish radical Paul Benjamin, who was murdered by neo-Nazis in one of the few episodes without a laugh track. Barney Miller was usually a one-set show, with all the comedic action taking place in the squadroom or occasionally in Captain Miller’s office. One of the few times Barney Miller had a different setting was when Chano broke down crying in his apartment after having had to shoot a suspect.
Other roles included El Puerco in Soap, Dr. Tony Menzies on A.E. S. Hudson Street, and Commandante Paco Pico in Zorro and Son. Scifi.radio (formerly known as SCIFI.radio) salutes him as Captain Maldonado in Something is Out There and Entek in DS9. From 1969 to 2018, Gregory Sierra had over a hundred roles on television and in the movies, plus his work off-Broadway. Which was your favorite? Share your memories in the Comments section below.
Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as 26 short stories, mostly fantasy in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress #30”, Swords &Sorceries Vols. 1, 2, & 5, “Cat Tails” “Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on SCIFI.radio’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions, Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.