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Gregory Sierra (1937–2021), co-starred in “Barney Miller,” “Sanford and Son”

by Linnea Crowther

Gregory Sierra was an actor best known for his roles in the sitcoms “Barney Miller” and “Sanford and Son.”

Acting career

Sierra’s first major role was in “Sanford and Son,” beginning in 1972. He played Julio Fuentes, the Sanfords’ Puerto Rican neighbor. While he was appearing on “Sanford and Son,” he made a notable guest appearance on “All in the Family,” playing a Jewish radical working to stop antisemitism in the Bunker’s neighborhood. In 1975, Sierra was cast as Detective Sergeant Chano Amengual in “Barney Miller,” whose memorable storylines included his anguish over having to kill two bank robbers in the line of duty. He had a recurring role in the final season of “Soap,” and he briefly had a starring role in “Miami Vice” before asking to be written out of the show. Sierra’s other TV appearances include “Hill Street Blues,” “Growing Pains,” “Murder, She Wrote,” and “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.” He appeared in movies including “Beneath the Planet of the Apes,” “Towering Inferno,” “Honey I Blew Up the Kid,” and “A Low Down Dirty Shame.”

Notable quote

“I think ‘Barney Miller’ is much more real than any other cop show. The people in the show have real problems. Kojak never worries. He knows he’s got it made. Everything is always under control on that show. You never see the frustrations of police work or the kind of joking that goes on among real policemen. Those are the kinds of things we show on ‘Barney Miller.’” —from a 1976 interview for the book “TV Talk 2: Exploring TV Territory”

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Tributes to Gregory Sierra

Full obituary: Los Angeles Times

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