Edward James Olmos

The Cardinal celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month!


Veronica Perez, Senior Writer

Edward James Olmos was born on February 24, 1947, and is an American actor, director, producer, and activist.  Olmos was born and raised in East Los Angeles, California.  His parents split up when he was seven years old, and he was primarily raised by his great-grandparents as his parents worked. He grew up wanting to be a professional baseball player, and at age 13 joined the Los Angeles Dodgers’ farm system, playing as a catcher. He left baseball at age 15 to join a rock and roll band, which caused a rift with his father, who was hurt by the decision.

Olmos’ big break came by portraying the narrator, called “El Pachuco,” in the play Zoot Suit, which dramatized the World War II-era rioting in California brought about by the tensions between Mexican-Americans and local police.  The play moved to Broadway, and Olmos earned a Tony Award nomination.  Olmos became the first American-born Hispanic to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, in Stand and Deliver, for his portrayal of real-life math teacher, Jaime Escalante.

Olmos has often been involved in social activism, especially that affecting the U.S. Hispanic community.  In 1998, he founded Latino Public Broadcasting and currently serves as its chairman. Latino Public Broadcasting funds public television programming that focuses on issues affecting Hispanics and advocates for diverse perspectives in public television.