Gregory Sierra, best known for his roles as Sgt. Miguel “Chano” Amanguale on Barney Miller and Julio Fuentes on Sanford and Son, has died at the age of 83.
Sierra died Jan. 4 from cancer, a family spokesman confirmed with our sister site Deadline, but the news of his death did not become public until Friday. Had he lived, Sierra would have turned 84 on Jan. 25.
A veteran New York actor of Puerto Rican descent, Sierra often broke down racial barriers and defied stereotypes by portraying a number of high-ranking law enforcement types and district attorneys on everything from Hill Street Blues to Miami Vice. He played an FBI agent on Falcon Crest and police captains on the original MacGyver and the shorter-lived Something Is Out There.
Sierra also had a knack for comedic timing, and in addition to his recurring role as Fred Sanford’s sarcastic neighbor Julio, he enjoyed small but notable guest-starring roles on Growing Pains, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Soap and It’s a Living. His one-and-done appearance on All In the Family saw him play a Jewish extremist named Paul Benjamin, who unexpectedly befriends Archie Bunker, but later dies in a car bombing. Instead of audience applause, the episode ended in somber silence.
Sierra was a resident of Laguna Woods, Calif., and is survived by his wife, Helene.