Trinidad Silva

Character actor Trinidad Silva had a promising career that was cut short far too soon. Born in the small South Texas border town of Mission, Silva was living and working in Los Angeles by his mid 20s. His earliest acting credit came on an episode of the Robert Blake crime drama "Baretta" in 1977. Unfortunately, due to pervasive Latino typecasting of the time, most of Silva's television roles were as criminals or gang members on shows ranging from the police station workhouse comedy "Barney Miller" to the William Shatner action drama "T.J. Hooker." Silva's best and highest-profile TV role, as Jesus Martinez on the critically-acclaimed police drama "Hill Street Blues," transcended this racial stereotype; Martinez was a former street gang leader who became a community activist in an attempt to better himself and his neighborhood. Silva also played more uplifting roles in the illegal-immigrant dramas "Alambrista!" and "El Norte." While filming the Weird Al Yankovic comedy "UHF" in 1988, Silva was killed by a drunk driver who collided with his car in Whittier, California; the film was dedicated to Silva's memory.