Gregory Sierra, best known for his roles on Sanford and Son and Barney Miller, has died. His wife spoke to CNN on Friday and confirmed that he’d passed away from cancer on January 4, 2021. She told them that he’d been battling cancer for a long time before he passed. He was 83 years old.
Though his most recognized roles were as Julio Fuentes on Sanford and Son and Detective Miguel “Chano” Amanguale on Barney Miller, Sierra was a prolific actor. He had over 125 acting credits according to his IMDB page. He was a recurring guest star on several popular TV shows including Soap, Miami Vice, Hill Street Blues and Murder She Wrote.
A Loss for the ‘Star Trek’ Family
Though Trekkies might not recognize his face, Sierra was a member of the Star Trek family. He appeared in one episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as the Cardassian, Entek. Even fans who don’t recognize Sierra probably remember his incredible portrayal of Entek.
The character appeared in the episode “Second Skin,” in the third season of the show. He was an operative of the Cardassian black ops organization, the Obsidian Order. As part of his mission to tie a high-level Cardassian official to an underground rebellion, Entek kidnapped Kira Nerys and surgically altered her so she looked Cardassian. He then convinced the official that she was his daughter, and used an interrogation of her to get the official to reveal his ties to the rebellion.
When Captain Sisko, Odo and Garak — a former member of the Obsidian Order — showed up to rescue Kira, Garak killed Entek in the struggle. The storyline hinted that there was some prior connection between Garak and Entek, but this was never revealed because of Garak’s secrecy about his connections to the Obsidian Order.
A Lifelong Acting Career
People reported that Sierra began his career as a Shakespearean actor in New York. He worked with both the National Shakespeare Company and the New York Shakespearean festival before doing some other stage acting in New York City.
Toward the end of the 1960s, Sierra moved to California to pursue a career in television acting. It didn’t take long for his career to take off. He landed his first roles in 1969, and by 1970 he was doing regular guest appearances on a variety of shows.
The 1970s and 1980s were the height of Sierra’s career. He had several roles each year throughout these decades, often portraying law enforcement officers. Though many of his roles were single appearances, he also landed some major recurring roles, which propelled him into the public consciousness. He also landed a few film roles, though the majority of his work was on the small screen.
His career slowed down in the 1990s and 2000s, though he continued acting until just a few years ago. His last credit was in 2018 in the movie The Other Side of the Wind. The film was the last ever made by iconic director Orson Welles and was finally completed 40 years after his death. The film did very well on the festival circuit, garnering several nominations and wins.
His widow told CNN that Sierra wanted to continue acting after that, but he was having trouble memorizing his lines. He retired when he could no longer perform the way he wanted.
He is survived by his wife, Helene Tabor, two stepdaughters and a step-granddaughter.
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