A magnetic Latino actor and activist, Edward James Olmos was raised in East Los Angeles and avoided falling in with gangs by pursuing his passions: baseball (he was a Golden State batting champion) and rock and roll. In the mid-'60s he gigged with bands at night and studied at community college by day. By the '70s, he had added acting to his eclectic résumé. Olmos' breakthrough role came in 1978 as the mythical narrator of the historical play Zoot Suit
, which earned him a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award, as well as a Tony nod when the show moved to Broadway. (He reprised the role in the subsequent 1981 film.) After a handful of projects, Olmos came to prominence and won an Emmy and a Golden Globe as Lt. Martin Castillo on the immensely popular TV series Miami Vice
. Once the show folded in 1990, Olmos jumped to features. And although he turned in many memorable performances---his Oscar-nominated portrayal of real-life inspirational teacher Jaime Escalante in Stand and Deliver
, a gang member in the prison drama American Me
, which he also directed and produced---the small screen remained Olmos' medium. He did fine work in a slew of TV-movies and miniseries, including the lauded 2003 remake of Battlestar Galactica
as a hardened military leader trying to lead the remnants of the human race to safety. When Battlestar
became a regular series in 2004, Olmos found himself essaying his hippest, most high-profile part since Miami Vice
in Commander William Adama, a role he played until the series' conclusion in 2009. Off screen, Olmos devotes much of his time to humanitarian causes and works with inner-city kids to help them stay out of gangs through education and community involvement.Edward James Olmos Fast Facts:
- Started a band called Pacific Ocean in the mid-1960s, performing at a Sunset Strip nightclub by night and taking sociology classes at a community college during the day.
- Began motivational speaking in 1972, discussing gang violence and its corrosive effects on the community.
- First major stage role was El Pachuco in Zoot Suit, which earned him a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award and a Tony nomination.
- Starred in and composed the music for The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez (1982)---about a Latino ranch hand pursued by a Texas posse in 1901---and personally visited theaters throughout the Southwest to show the film.
- Made his feature directorial debut with the 1992 crime drama American Me.
- Has lent his voice to a number of animated projects, including 2000 feature The Road to El Dorado and TV series The Batman, as well as the live-action Disney hit Beverly Hills Chihuahua (2008).
- Edward James Olmos Relationships:
- Kaija Keel - Ex-wife
- Mico Olmos - Son
- Peter Olmos - Brother
- Bodie Olmos - Son
- Eleanor - Mother
- Pedro Olmos - Father
- Lorraine Bracco - Ex-wife
- Eleanor Olmos - Sister
- Lymari Nadal - Wife
- Michael D. Olmos - Son
- Edward James Olmos Awards:
- 1986 Emmy: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series - Nominee
- 1995 Emmy: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Special - Nominee
- 1989 Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television - Nominee
- 1985 Emmy: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series - Winner
- 1986 Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television - Winner
- 1995 Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television - Winner
- 1989 Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama - Nominee
- 1979 Tony: Actor (Featured Role--Play) - Nominee
- 2011 Screen Actors Guild Awards: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series - Nominee
- 1988 Oscar: Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role - Nominee
- East Los Angeles College, Los Angeles, CA (Associate degree in Sociology, 1966); attended California State University, Los Angeles, CA