Emmy Award-winning actor Edward James Olmos grew up on the streets of Boyle Heights in East Los Angeles, where he excelled in baseball. He earned an associate’s degree in sociology at East Los Angeles College, and studied acting while at Cal State L.A. Though he has said that he couldn’t sing very well, he sang and played piano in his band, Eddie James and the Pacific Ocean. Married with two young sons, he worked as a furniture delivery man while slowly getting parts in TV series such as “Kojak.”
In 1978, he was cast in the pivotal role of El Pachuo in “Zoot Suit,” Luis Valdez’ play about the Sleepy Lagoon murder trial. After playing at the Mark Taper Forum, the play went to Broadway, where Olmos earned a Tony nomination. He also starred in the 1981 film version.
Olmos played the origami-loving Hungarian cop in Ridley Scott’s 1982 classic “Blade Runner” and received good notices for his role in 1982's “The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez.” That same year he landed the role of the cool, enigmatic Lt. Martin Castillo on Michael Mann’s trendy NBC cop series, “Miami Vice,” for which he won an Emmy.
Olmos earned a best actor Oscar nomination for his remarkable performance as East Los Angeles math teacher Jaime Escalante in 1988’s “Stand and Deliver.” And in 1992, he made his directorial debut with the prison drama “American Me.” He returned to series TV in the 2001-04 PBS drama, “American Family,” as a widowed head of a East Los Angeles family. And he received rave reviews as Adm. William Adama on the SyFy Channel’s acclaimed 2004-09 series “Battlestar Galatica.”
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