Edward James Olmos Biography

Film Actor, Television Actor, Actor (1947–)
Actor Edward James Olmos earned an Oscar nomination for Stand and Deliver before starring on TV's Battlestar Galactica.


Edward James Olmos was born in Los Angeles on February 24, 1947, and got his first big acting break in the stage production of Zoot Suit. His career steadily grew, as he appeared in films like Blade Runner, and joined the cast of TV's Miami Vice. He received an Oscar nomination for his role as a teacher in 1988's Stand and Deliver. From 2003 to 2009, Olmos starred in the TV series Battlestar Galactica.

Early Life

Actor and producer Edward James Olmos was born on February 24, 1947 in Los Angeles, California. At a young age, Olmos dreamt of being a professional baseball player, but he later thought that being a performer would be his way out of his East Los Angeles neighborhood. He started out in a rock band. After taking a drama course, Olmos decided to try acting. Olmos found work in small parts -- usually playing the bad guy -- on numerous television shows, including Kojak, Hawaii Five-O and Police Woman.

Acting Career

Olmos got his first big break in the stage production of Zoot Suit in 1978, which was a musical based in part on the famous zoot suit riots in Los Angeles in 1942. He later reprised his role in the 1981 film version. His film career steadily grew with supporting roles in a number of films, including Blade Runner (1982). He also explored opportunities on television with guest appearances on the series Hill Street Blues and joined the cast of Miami Vice in 1984. Olmos received Emmy and Golden Globe awards for his portrayal of Lieutenant Martin Castillo.

Throughout his career, Olmos has looked for projects he found meaningful and has been known to pass up roles he thought played on Latino stereotypes. In 1988, Olmos starred in the inspirational film Stand and Deliver, which follows the real-life story of teacher Jaime Escalante. Escalante taught math at a troubled Los Angeles high school and helped students once thought as "unteachable" to thrive.

Olmos received an Academy Award nomination for his work. Four years later, he directed, produced and starred in American Me (1992), a film that examines gangs and prison life. Olmos also directed Walkout (2006), a cable-television film based on the East Los Angeles student protests of 1968.

Olmos has returned to acting on television in recent years, playing Admiral William Adama on the science fiction series Battlestar Galactica, and a professor of the popular Showtime series Dexter (season 6) in 2011.

Activism and Personal Life

Outside of his work in film and on television, Olmos spends much of his time as an activist. He has supported numerous causes and has been an advocate for Latino culture, organizing film festivals and other special projects and events.

Olmos married his first wife, Kaija Keel -- with whom he has two sons -- in 1971. The couple divorced in 1992. He and his second wife, actress Lorraine Bracco, were married from 1994 to 2002. Olmos is currently married to actress Lymari Nadal, known for her perfomance in the 2002 film American Gangster.

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