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As Frank “Ponch” Poncherello on the police drama CHiPs, Erik Estrada became one of the most popular television stars of the late 1970s and early 1980s.
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He went through a career renaissance in the early 1993 when he took a leading role in the telenovela Dos Mujeres, Un Camino, a Spanish-language soap opera. Estrada, who already knew some Spanish, had to take language classes for the project. Hugely popular in Mexico and other parts of the Spanish-speaking world,
the series help revive his career and win him a new legion of fans.
Estrada wrote about his Hispanic heritage among other topics in his 1997 autobiography My Road from Harlem to Hollywood. The next year, he reunited with former co-star Larry Wilcox for the television film CHiPs ’99, which helped generate new interest in the original series. A new film adaptation of the series is reportedly in development with Wilmer Valderrama slated to play Ponch.
In recent years, Estrada has been a popular figure on reality television. He joined porn star Ron Jeremy, rapper Vanilla Ice, former televangelist Tammy Faye Messner, and others in the second season of The Surreal Life in 2004. Three years later, Estrada appeared in Armed & Famous, which had celebrities work alongside real police officers. He also had a small role in the Jamie Kennedy comedy Kickin’ It Old Skool (2007) that same year.
In addition to his on-camera performances, Estrada has done a lot of voice work for cartoons, including Maya & Miguel, JoJo’s Circus, and Sealab 2021. He also does a lot of public service work, serving as the face of D.A.R.E. (Drug Awareness Resistance Education) in 2000. Working with the California Highway Patrol, the real “CHiPs,” Estrada helped promote car seat safety.
Married three times, Estrada has two sons, Anthony Erik and Brandon Michael-Paul, from his second marriage to Peggy Rowe. He and third wife Nanette Mirkovich have been married since 1997 and have one child together, a daughter named Francesca. They live in California’s Hollywood Hills.
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