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Jimmy Smits

Jimmy Smits

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: July 9, 1955 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Brooklyn, New York, USA Profession: actor, community organizer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Despite trying to stake his claim in features films without much success, actor Jimmy Smits earned his greatest acclaim on the small screen in roles that were connected by their proximity to the law. Smits emerged into the public consciousness as a sharp, but uptight attorney on Stephen Bochco's award-winning legal drama, "L.A. Law" (NBC, 1986-1994). After leaving the show before its run ended, he languished in a series of easily dismissed features and slightly better made-for-television movies before returning to television as an understated detective on the groundbreaking cop drama, "NYPD Blue" (ABC, 1993-2005). Once again, Smits left the show prior to its time running out and again found himself taking on largely forgettable films, though he did manage a small recurring part in "Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones" (2002) and "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith" (2005). Returning to regular series glory, he gave a commanding performance as a legislator-turned-president on "The West Wing" (NBC, 1999-2006), an Emmy-nominated turn as an assistant district attorney with a murderous dark side on "Dexter" (Showtime, 2006- ),and a widely praised performance as a semi-reformed gang leader...

Despite trying to stake his claim in features films without much success, actor Jimmy Smits earned his greatest acclaim on the small screen in roles that were connected by their proximity to the law. Smits emerged into the public consciousness as a sharp, but uptight attorney on Stephen Bochco's award-winning legal drama, "L.A. Law" (NBC, 1986-1994). After leaving the show before its run ended, he languished in a series of easily dismissed features and slightly better made-for-television movies before returning to television as an understated detective on the groundbreaking cop drama, "NYPD Blue" (ABC, 1993-2005). Once again, Smits left the show prior to its time running out and again found himself taking on largely forgettable films, though he did manage a small recurring part in "Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones" (2002) and "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith" (2005). Returning to regular series glory, he gave a commanding performance as a legislator-turned-president on "The West Wing" (NBC, 1999-2006), an Emmy-nominated turn as an assistant district attorney with a murderous dark side on "Dexter" (Showtime, 2006- ),and a widely praised performance as a semi-reformed gang leader on "Sons of Anarchy" (FX, 2008- ), all of which confirmed that the distinguished performer was best served in authoritative roles on the small screen.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Backyard (2009)
2.
 Mother and Child (2009)
5.
 Lackawanna Blues (2005) Cast
6.
 Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005) Senator Bail Organa
7.
 Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones (2002) Senator Bail Organa
8.
 Price of Glory (2000) Arturo Ortega
9.
 Million Dollar Hotel, The (2000) Geronimo
10.
 Bless the Child (2000) John Travis
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Raised primarily in Brooklyn, New York, but lived briefly in Puerto Rico
:
Worked for a time as a community organizer in the New York area before moving into acting
1982:
Off-Broadway debut in "Hamlet" at the New York Shakespeare Festival
1984:
Played a supporting role in Michael Weller's "The Ballad of Soapy Smith" at the New York Shakespeare Festival
1984:
TV debut in the "Miami Vice" (NBC) pilot, playing Don Johnson's ill-fated first partner Eddie Rivera
1986:
First TV-movie, "Rockabye" (CBS) playing a cop
1986:
Feature film debut as an exuberant drug dealer in "Running Scared"
1986:
Breakthrough role as Victor Sifuentes, the firm's uptight law partner and pro-bono lawyer on NBC's legal drama, "L.A. Law"; earned a total of six Emmy nominations as a supporting actor
1987:
Narrated the PBS documentary on the illegal immigration of Mexicans into the US, "The Other Side of the Border"
1987:
First leading role in a TV-movie, "The Highwayman" (NBC)
1989:
Initial leading role in a feature film, "Old Gringo"; starred alongside Jane Fonda and Gregory Peck
1992:
Acted in acclaimed ABC docudrama "The Broken Cord"
1993:
Starred in first TV miniseries, "Stephen King's 'The Tommyknockers'" (ABC)
1993:
Appeared in the L.A. stage production of "Death and the Maiden" opposite off-screen companion Wanda De Jesus
1994:
Joined the cast of ABC's police drama, "NYPD Blue" in the leading role of Bobby Simone after series star David Caruso left; character killed off in November 1998 after Smits decided to leave the show; earned five Emmy nominations
1995:
Headlined a stellar Latino cast (including Edward James Olmos and Esai Morales) in Gregory Nava's "My Family, Mi Familia"
2000:
Joined an ensemble cast in Wim Wenders' "The Million Dollar Hotel"
2000:
Portrayed washed-up boxer Arturo Ortega in "Price of Glory"
2002:
Cast as Bail Organa in "Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones"
2003:
Appeared in the Broadway production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Nilo Cruz play "Anna in the Tropics"
2004:
Joined the cast of the NBC political drama "The West Wing," as Representative Matthew Santos
2005:
Reprised role of Senator Bail Organa in "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith," the final film in the Star Wars saga
2005:
Starred in the HBO original movie "Lackawanna Blues" based on Ruben Santiago-Hudson autobiographical one man show
2007:
Cast as Alex Vega, a heir to his family's sugar and rum business in the short-lived CBS drama, "Cane"
2007:
Joined an ensemble cast for the feature adaptation of "The Jane Austen Book Club"
2008:
Joined the third season of Showtime's "Dexter" as Miguel Prado, an assistant district attorney; earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series
2010:
Played a Supreme Court Justice starting up his own law firm in the short-lived NBC show, "Outlaw"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Thomas Jefferson High School: Brooklyn , New York -
Brooklyn College: Brooklyn , New York - 1980
Cornell University: Ithaca , New York - 1982

Notes

Smits, along with comedian Paul Rodriguez, Jennifer Lopez and legendary salsa singer Tito Nieves, are among the celebrity investors in The Conga Room, a Los Angeles dance club, lounge and restaurant showcasing Latino music on the Miracle Mile.

"I've been fortunate. I've always had teacher role models who kind of pointed me in the right direction. In junior high Rhoda Olanoff would do these lavish musicals. In high school there was a teacher who would take us to Broadway and Off-Broadway all the time. There was somebody in college who said I should continue on my path to graduate school. There was always somebody along the way to help cultivate the dream." --Jimmy Smits quoted in Daily News, November 13, 1994

"I never said I was leaving 'L.A. Law' to pursue a film career. You guys did, in the media. My contract was over and I just wanted to move on. It wasn't like I left with a three-picture deal in my back pocket. It was never about leaving 'L.A. Law' and becoming a giant movie star." --Smits quoted in TV Guide, November 12, 1994

About finding himself pigeonholed in Latino characters: "It's a fine line, and I have to deal with that all the time. I do want to be involved in quality projects that say something about the Latino community.

"But as an actor, you want to sell your versatility. One thing should go hand in hand with the other. We [Hispanic actors] want to play different roles, we want to be cast in different ethnicities and act in films about different historical times. I think that's good for us, in terms of non-traditional casting. And I don't see why, for the most part, I can't do that.

"I decide [on roles] on a project-by-project basis. Every actor has to deal with what's on his plate, and I try to deal with doing the best work possible with the most challenging scripts. I don't base it on whether it's a feature film, or a TV-movie, or cable." --Smits to Robert Dominguez for the Daily News, March 17, 1996

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Barbara Smits. High school girlfriend; married in 1981; divorced in 1987; mother of Smits' two children Taina and Joaquin.
companion:
Wanda De Jesus. Actor. Together since 1985; worked together onstage in L.A. production of "Death and the Maiden" (1993).

Family close complete family listing

mother:
Emelina Smits. Nurse. Puerto Rican.
father:
Cornelis Smits. Retired silk-screen plant manager. Divorced wife c. 1973; of Dutch ancestry; from Surinam.
sister:
Diana Smits. Younger.
daughter:
Taina Smits. Born c. 1973; mother, Barbara Smits.
son:
Joaquin Smits. Born c. 1983; mother, Barbara Smits.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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