“I didn't get into this business to get awards or get acclamation. I did it because I was searching for my own sense of who I was as a human being.” Edward James Olmos
First making an impact with his Tony nominated role in “Zoot Suit” (1978), Mexican American actor and director Edward James Olmos became a household name thanks to his portrayal of police Lieutenant Martin Castillo on the cultural phenomenon “Miami Vice” (NBC, 1989-1989), from which he won an Emmy Award and a Golden Globe Award. Commenting about his role on the series, Olmos said, “I was the highest paid actor, per word, in the history of television.”
After “Miami Vice,” Olmos was largely unnoticed for several years except for his brilliant performances in the Ramón Menéndez small budgeted drama “Stand and Deliver” (1988), where he received an Independent Spirit Award and Oscar and Golden Globe nominations, the HBO film “The Burning Season” (1994), in which he picked up his second Golden Globe Award, and the Gregory Nava biopic “Selena” (1997), from which he netted a Lone Star Film & Television Award and an ALMA Award. Often cast as men of authority and/or power, he also earned NCLR Bravo Awards for his work in the film “Caught” and the miniseries “Dead Man's Walk” (both 1996) and two additional ALMA Awards for the TV movies “12 Angry Men” (1997) and “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three” (1998).
Following a failed attempt to return to series TV in the early 2000s, Olmos proved he was back in the saddle again with his stellar role of Admiral William Adama on the “Battlestar Galactica” series (SciFi Channel, 2004-2009). For his performance, the acclaimed performer won two ALMA Awards and two Saturn nominations.
As a director, Olmos gained kudos for his work in the HBO film “Walkout” (2006). Other credits include the motion picture “American Me” (1992) and several episodes of “Battlestar Galactica.”
Olmos is set to recreate his renowned TV role of Admiral William Adama on the upcoming “Battlestar Galactica: The Plan” (2009), which he also directed.
Olmos has been married three times. Presently the husband of Puerto Rican actress Lymari Nadal, he has two children from first wife Kaija Keel (together from 1971-1992) and is the father of director Michael D. Olmos, one of his three adopted children.
Childhood and Family:
“When I was growing up I'd watch ‘Twilight Zone’ and ‘One Step Beyond.’ I watched ‘Flash Gordon’ in the movie houses before it went to TV, and then I watched it on TV as well.” Edward James Olmos
Born Edward Olmos on February 24, 1947, in East Los Angeles, California, Edward James Olmos, nicknamed EJO, was raised in Boyle Heights. The middle of three children, his father, Pedro Olmos, was an immigrant from Mexico and his mother, Eleanor Olmos, was of Mexican and American descent. The couple divorced in 1955 when Edward was eight years old and to counter the emotions he felt, young Edward plunged himself into baseball and became the Golden State batting title-holder.
After graduating from Montebello High School in 1964, Edward attended East Los Angeles College, where he earned an Associate’s Degree in Sociology. He then studied psychology and criminology at the California State University in Los Angeles. During this same period, he played piano and sang in the band Eddie James and the Pacific Ocean. The group performed in various clubs in and around Los Angeles and released a record in 1968.
On December 29, 1971, Edward married Kaija Keel (born, January 14, 1950), the daughter of musical film star Howard Keel. The couple welcomed two sons, Mico Olmos and Bodie Olmos, in 1972 and 1975, respectively. To support his new family, Edward worked as an antique furniture deliveryman while attempting to launch a career in acting. In 1992, after having been together for over twenty years, the couple divorced. Edward then married Lorraine Bracco (born on October 2, 1954) on January 28, 1994, but the Brooklyn-born actress filed for divorce in January 2002. The divorced was legalized on March 4, 2002. Currently, Edward is the husband of Puerto Rican actress Lymari Nadal, who is 31 years younger than he is. He has three adopted children: sons Michael D. Olmos and Brandon Olmos and daughter Tamiko Olmos.
“I started working in theatre in my first year in college out of a necessity to learn more about myself. I never thought I could make a living because I was a sociologist at heart. In fact, that's what my degrees are in, sociology. But I continued to work in theatre and spent many many years in theatre perfecting my craft and then moving onto television and film.” Edward James Olmos
Kicking off his entertainment career as a founder and singer with the rock group Eddie James and the Pacific Ocean, Edward James Olmos added acting to his endeavors by participating in experimental theater productions in Los Angeles before breaking into television in the mid-1970s with guest spots in a string of TV shows like CBS' “Kojak” (1975), ABC's “Starsky and Hutch” (1977), CBS' “Hawaii Five-O” (1977) and NBC's “CHiPs” (1978). He made his first feature film appearance in the 1975 drama “Aloha Bobby and Rose,” starring Paul Le Mat and Dianne Hull in the title roles, and went on to make his TV movie debut in the 1978 based-on-novel “Evening in Byzantium,” which was helmed by Jerry London and starred Glenn Ford.
However, Olmos did not gain major recognition until he, as part of the Center Theatre Group, won the role of El Pachuco on the Luis Valdez musical “Zoot Suit” (1978). The show enjoyed a successful run at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles before being transferred to Broadway in 1979. For his great acting job, he was handed a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle award and a Tony nomination in the category of Best Actor (Featured Role – Play). In 1981, Olmos reprised his noted stage role in the film version of “Zoot Suit,” which was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy.
After his promising Broadway debut, he costarred in the Michael Wadleigh-directed horror film “Wolfen” (1981) and supported Harrison Ford in Ridley Scott's “Blade Runner” (1982), where he played a merciless, Hungarian-speaking officer named Gaff. He then portrayed the title role in the applauded historical drama “The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez” (1983), for which he also served as associate producer and composed and adapted the music.
Olmos' huge breakthrough arrived the following year when he was cast in the regular role of Martin Castillo in the Michael Mann-produced TV series “Miami Vice” (NBC, 1984-1989). Starring Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas as two detectives working undercover in Miami, the show was a hit and went on to become one of the most influential television series of all time. As for Olmos, his role as the police lieutenant won him a 1985 Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series and a 1986 Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV.
Although he held a non-exclusive contract, Olmos only appeared a few times outside the scope of “Miami Vice.” In 1985, he played the supporting role of Ciolini in Robert M. Young's “Saving Grace,” which was based on a novel by Celia Gittelson. Three years later, he assumed the role of Sophia Loren's second husband, Frank Corbo, on the NBC miniseries “Mario Puzo’s 'The Fortunate Pilgrim.’” It was also that year that the talented actor portrayed high school teacher Jaime A. Escalante in the low budget film “Stand and Deliver.” Under the direction of Ramón Menéndez, who also wrote the script with Tom Musca, Olmos took home an Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead and nominations at both the Academy Awards and Golden Globe Awards.
After the cancellation of “Miami Vice,” Olmos appeared as a gypsy in director Robert M. Young's sport-themed movie “Triumph of the Spirit” (1989), which starred Willem Dafoe, and was reunited with Lorraine Bracco in the drama “Talent for the Game” (1991), also directed by Young. He then ventured into film directing with “American Me” (1992), a prison drama where he also starred as Montoya Santana. He continued to have roles in Young's drama “Roosters” (1993), Paul Rodriguez's “A Million to Juan” (1994) and the made-for TV-film “Menendez: A Killing in Beverly Hills” (1994, as Jose Menendez). He next gave a Golden Globe-winning portrayal of Wilson Pinheiro in the HBO film “The Burning Season” (1994), which was about Brazilian political activist Chico Mendes (played by Raul Julia). The role also brought Olmos a 1995 Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Special.
The rest of the decade saw Olmos in a number of movies, including Paul Williams' “Mirage” (1995), “My Family” (1995), Robert M. Young's “Caught” (1996), Michael Pattinson's “The Limbic Region” (TV, 1996), the Andy Garcia starring vehicle “The Disappearance of Garcia Lorca” (1996), “Hollywood Confidential” (1997, TV), from which he received an ALMA nomination for Outstanding Actor in a Made-for-Television Movie or Mini-Series, Stuart Gordon's “The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit” (1998) “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three” (TV, 1998) and “Bonanno: A Godfather's Story” (TV, 1999). He also portrayed Captain Salazar in the TV miniseries “Dead Man's Walk” (1996) and Juror #11 in the Golden Globe nominated television movie “12 Angry Men” (1997), where he nabbed a NCLR Bravo for Outstanding Individual Performance in Made for Television Movie or Mini-Series and an ALMA for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Made-for-Television Movie or Mini-Series in a Crossover Role. In “Selena” (1997), a biopic directed and written by Gregory Nava and starring Jennifer Lopez, Olmos was cast as the adoring father Abraham Quintanilla Jr. and won a Lone Star Film & Television for Best Supporting Actor and an ALMA for Outstanding Actor in a Feature Film for his work in the movie.
In the new millennium, Olmos had a recurring role as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Mendoza on the NBC drama “The West Wing,” a role he had played since 1999. He next played the voice role of Chief in the animated movie “The Road to El Dorado” and costarred with James Marsden, Kate Hudson and Joshua Jackson in the thriller “Gossip” (both 2000) before taking a break from the cinematic industry to concentrate once more on television. In 2001, he starred as Judge Armando Acosta in the made-for-TV film “The Judge,” from which he picked up an ALMA nomination in the category of Outstanding Actor/Actress in a Made for Television Movie or Miniseries, and played Dominican Republic authoritarian Rafael Trujillo in the Mariano Barroso-directed “In the Time of the Butterflies” (2001, opposite Salma Hayek). He returned to regular series the next year on the PBS drama “American Family,” also starring Kurt Caceres, Parker Torres, Austin Marques and Eddy Martin. Although the show only had a short life (2002-2004), Olmos, who portrayed Jess Gonzalez, won a 2003 Prism nomination for Best Performance in a Drama Series Multi-Episode Storyline.
Olmos experienced a Renaissance when he landed the famous role of Commander William Adama on the miniseries remake of “Battlestar Galactica” (2003, the SciFi channel), which became the highest-rated cable miniseries of the year. The next year, Olmos reprised his role for the praised TV series “Battlestar Galactica” (2004-2009). Costarring with Mary McDonnell, Katee Sackhoff, Jamie Bamber and James Callis, the brown eyed performer who wore blue colored contacts for his William Adama role, was nominated for a 2006 ALMA for Outstanding Actor in a Television Series and a 2006 Imagen for Best Actor – Television. He continued to bring home ALMA awards in the categories of Outstanding Actor - Television Series, Mini-Series or Television Movie (2007) and Outstanding Actor in a Drama Television Series (2008) and two Saturn nominations for Best Actor on Television (2007 and 2008).
While working on “Battlestar Galactica,” Olmos voiced Chief Angel Rojas in an episode of “The Batman” (2004), played Captain Garcia on “Splinter” (2006), the directorial debut from his son Michael D. Olmos, appeared as Mr. Vega in one episode of “George Lopez” (2007) and voiced Diablo on the Raja Gosnell-helmed “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” (2008). Olmos also returned to the director's chair for the television film “Walkout” (HBO, 2006), which starred Alexa Vega and Michael Peña. Olmos won an ALMA for Outstanding Director - Television Series, Mini-Series, Television Movie, a Black Reel for Network/Cable - Best Director and a Directors Guild of America (DGA) nomination for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Movies for Television for his work. Apart from directing, he also played the role of Julian Nava and served as co-executive producer.
Recently narrating “A Class Apart” (2009), which was directed by Peter Miller and Carlos Sandoval, Olmos will reprise his role as Commander William Adama for the spin off “Battlestar Galactica: The Plan,” which is scheduled to be released in November 2009. He also directed the project.
ALMA: Outstanding Actor in a Drama Television Series, “Battlestar Galactica,” 2008
ALMA: Outstanding Actor - Television Series, Mini-Series or Television Movie, “Battlestar Galactica,” 2007
ALMA: Outstanding Director - Television Series, Mini-Series, Television Movie, “Walkout,” 2007
Black Reel: Network/Cable - Best Director, “Walkout,” 2007
ALMA: Outstanding Individual Performance in a Made-for-Television Movie or Mini-Series in a Crossover Role, “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three,” 1999
Arizona International Film Festival: Arizona Independent Film Award, 1999
ALMA: Outstanding Actor in a Feature Film, “Selena,” 1998
ALMA: Outstanding Individual Performance in a Made-for-Television Movie or Mini-Series in a Crossover Role, “12 Angry Men,” 1998
Huelva Latin American Film Festival: Prize of the City of Huelva, 1998
Lone Star Film & Television: Best Supporting Actor, “Selena,” 1998
NCLR Bravo: Outstanding Actor in a Feature Film, “Caught,” 1996
NCLR Bravo: Outstanding Individual Performance in Made for Television Movie or Mini-Series, “Dead Man's Walk,” 1996
Taos Talking Picture Festival: Cineaste Award, 1996
Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV, “The Burning Season,” 1995
Women in Film Crystal: Humanitarian Award, 1989
Independent Spirit: Best Male Lead, “Stand and Deliver,” 1989
Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV, “Miami Vice,” 1986
Emmy: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, “Miami Vice,” 1985