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Henry Enrique "Erik" Estrada (born March 16, 1949) is an American actor, known for his co-starring lead role in the 1977–1983 United States police television series CHiPs. He later became known for his work in Spanish language telenovelas, and in more recent years, his appearances in reality television shows and infomercials and as a regular voice on the Cartoon Network show Sealab 2021.



Estrada was born in East Harlemmarker, Manhattanmarker, New York City, the son of Carmen, a seamstress, and Renildo Estrada. He is of Puerto Rican descent. When Estrada was just a young boy, he had a dream of being one of the most popular Latino actors. He first began his acting career by starring in a Fritos commercial as the Mexican "Frito Bandito". Due to determination and the encouragement of his stepfather Pancho Dostela, he became a well-known Latino actor of the 1970s and early 1980s


In the 1970 film version of The Cross and the Switchblade, Estrada made his film debut in the role of Nicky Cruz alongside Pat Boone who played the role of David Wilkerson. In 1974, Estrada landed a big break in the successful disaster film, Airport 1975, where he played a featured role as the flight engineer on a Boeing 747. His character was killed in a midair collision. Two years later, he was a featured player in the military historical epic Midway, as a fictional airman Ens. "Chili Bean" Ramos.

Estrada as Francis "Ponch" Poncherello.

In 1977, Estrada began playing the role of Francis "Ponch" Poncherello, a California Highway Patrol officer on the 1977–1983 US television series CHiPs. Estrada became a teen idol, appearing on the cover of Tiger Beat and other publications. In 1978, Estrada began training extensively in martial arts with SeishinDo Kenpo instructor Frank Argelander (aka Frank Landers), to prepare for a two part episode of CHiPs. The two of them appear on the cover of Fighting Stars Magazine that same year, discussing Estrada's training regime. On August 6, 1979, Estrada was seriously injured while filming a scene on the set of CHiPs, fracturing several ribs and breaking both wrists after he was thrown from his 900 pound motorcycle.

Later that year, Estrada was voted one of "The 10 Sexiest Bachelors in the World" by People magazine and was featured on the cover of the November issue. Following a salary dispute with NBC in the fall of 1981, Estrada was briefly replaced by Olympic Gold Medalist and actor Bruce Jenner. CHiPs was eventually canceled in 1983. In the 1980s, Estrada appeared in a string of low-budget films. He made a return to series television in a 1987 three-part episode of the police drama Hunter.


In the 1990s, Estrada played the role of Johnny, a Tijuanamarker trucker, in the highly successful Televisa telenovela Dos mujeres, un camino ("Two women, one road"). Originally slated for 100 episodes, the show went to 400-plus episodes and became the biggest telenovela in Latin American history. He was reportedly paid one million dollars for that role. Estrada is not fluent in Spanish and had to learn his lines phonetically; he has gone on record that his role in "Dos Mujeres" was the one for which he has had to prepare the hardest, particularly to tame his heavy Nuyorican Spanish accent into the "español neutro" (i.e. neutral Spanish) Spanish spoken in most telenovelas.

In 1994, Estrada began co-hosting the syndicated outdoor adventure show American Adventurer which ran until 2004. In 1995, he made a special guest appearance as Ponch in punk rock band Bad Religion's music video Infected as well as in the video for the Butthole Surfers's video for Pepper. He has also been seen on a few episodes of Sabrina, The Teenage Witch as Himself being seen in a daydream cloud in Hilda's Mind and driving a car as Hilda zapped herself in his car.

In 1996, Estrada was a Guest Narrator for approximately 5 evenings for Disney's Candelight Processional held at EPCOTmarker in Lake Buena Vista, FL. He opened his green room to the volunteer cast of the show and even passed out cheese as he said he used to be a waiter earlier in his life.

In 1997, Estrada wrote the autobiography Erik Estrada: My Road from Harlem to Hollywood. In 1998, he returned as the character Francis "Ponch" Poncherello in the TNT made-for-TV movie CHiPs '99, along with the rest of the original cast.


In 2001, Estrada landed a role on the daytime drama, The Bold and the Beautiful as Eduardo Dominguez. In 2002, he played a Hispanic game show host on the Disney Channel series Lizzie McGuire with Hilary Duff.

He has also had a regular role doing voiceovers for the Cartoon Network show Sealab 2021, which also gave him the opportunity to parody himself. The show has featured several CHiPs homages and his character, First Mate Marco Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar Gabriel Garcia Marquez, is played as a stereotypical Latin macho character. He also appeared in an episode of another Cartoon Network show, Space Ghost: Coast to Coast, which features a character named Moltar who has an obsession with Estrada and CHiPS, as a guest. Estrada has also guest-starred on the children's cartoon Maya and Miguel.

Estrada has appeared in music videos, such as Eminem's music video "Just Lose it". There is a band named after him (Estradasphere) based in Santa Cruzmarker, California. Estrada also made guest appearances on The Wayans Bros., Unhappily Ever After, the Nickelodeon comedy Drake & Josh, NBC's Scrubs and ABC's According to Jim.

Estrada has done a long-running series of infomercials as a national spokesman for National Recreational Properties, selling real estate property in such locations as Siskiyou County, Californiamarker; Lake Shastina, California; California City, Californiamarker; Ocean Shores, Washingtonmarker; Coloradomarker; and recently, Tellico Village, Tennesseemarker and Bella Vista, Arkansasmarker.

Erik appeared in the "2nd Semester of Spanish Love Song" on youtube.

Estrada began appearing in Burger King TV commercials in September 2009 where he attended a class on endorsing products led by Tony Stewart. During the spoof, Estrada seeks to understand why American consumers were not interested in purchasing his "Estrada" sunglasses that noticeably had his last name written boldly across the lens.

Estrada has appeared in recent years in a number of reality television shows. In 2004 he starred in both the second season of The Surreal Life and in Discovery Health Body Challenge. He also starred in the short-lived CBS reality show, Armed & Famous. His experience from the show led him to become a reserve officer for the Muncie Police Department in Muncie, Indianamarker. Estrada was the Grand Marshall for the Krewe of Rio in Mardi Gras 2007. On April 19, 2007, he was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Famemarker. Estrada threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Seattle Mariners' Turn Back The Clock game on Sunday, July 29, 2007, entering the ballpark riding a police motorcycle. His pitch was caught by Mariners reliever Arthur Rhodes. In 2008, Estrada appeared in Husband for Hire, a television movie starring Nadine Velazquez and Mario López. Estrada endorsed Republican John McCain in the 2008 United States Presidential election.

Charitable work

Parlaying his CHiPs fame for the public good, Estrada became spokesperson for the C.H.P.'s "car seat inspection and installation" program. He has made numerous appearances supporting automobile child-seat safety checks across the country. In 2000, Estrada was named the international 'Face' of D.A.R.E. which is a campaign against drugs. He also speaks out for the American Heart Association, The United Way, and the C.H.P. 11-99 Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides benefits and Scholarships to California Highway Patrol family members as well as funeral expenses for fallen officers.

In May 2009, Estrada participated in the 11th Annual Muncie Police Activities League to help raise funds for renovations to the PAL Youth Club. Estrada is an Honorary member of the Blue Knights International Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club (Indiana 1 Chapter).


Erik Estrada is routinely ridiculed by stand-up comedian George Lopez for failure to shake the young 17-year old's hand on the set of his television show.

Erik Estrada appeared as Grand Marshall for the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival in Winchester, Virginia, over the first weekend of May 2009.

Erik Estrada appeared in Espanola, New Mexico May 28, 2009 to promote the '100 Days and Nights of Summer' traffic safety and anti-DWI campaign that involves the New Mexico State police. He kicked off the campaign at the Espanola Plaza as the guest speaker.Estrada appeared in a number of TV and radio spots for the campaign in 2009. In one spot, he drops onto a drunk driver's car, supposedly out of the sky, along with New Mexico law enforcement and a DWI checkpoint, and the driver recognizes Estrada by name.


  • The Cross and the Switchblade (1970)
  • Chrome and Hot Leather (1971)
  • The Ballad of Billie Blue (1972)
  • Parades (1972)
  • The New Centurions (1972)
  • Airport 1975 (1974)
  • Trackdown (1976)
  • Midway (1976)
  • The Line (1980)
  • Where Is Parsifal? (1983)
  • Light Blast (1985)
  • The Repenter (1985)
  • Hour of the Assassin (1987)
  • Andy Colby's Incredible Adventure (1988)
  • Caged Fury (1989)
  • Alien Seed (1989)
  • The Lost Idol (1990)
  • Guns (1990)
  • A Show of Force (1990)
  • Twisted Justice (1990)
  • Night of the Wilding (1990)
  • The Last Riders (1991)
  • Do or Die (1991)
  • Spirits (1991)
  • Gang Justice (1991)
  • The Sounds of Silence (1992)
  • The Naked Truth (1992)
  • The Divine Enforcer (1992)
  • Tuesday Never Comes (1993)
  • Angel Eyes (1993)
  • National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1 (1993)
  • Juana la Cubana (1994)
  • The Misery Brothers (1995)
  • The Final Goal (1995)
  • Visions (1996)
  • Shattered Dreams (1998)
  • The Modern Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1998)
  • Lost in Hollywood (1998)
  • King Cobra (1999)
  • Oliver Twisted (2000)
  • We Married Margo (2000)
  • UP, Michigan! (2001)
  • Destroying America (2001)
  • National Lampoon's Van Wilder (2002)
  • Border Blues (2004)
  • Kickin It Old Skool (2007)
  • Horrorween (2007)
  • Husband for Hire (2008)
  • Spring Break '83 (2008)

Television work

See also


External links

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