Family & Companions
After more than two decades of work on stage, film and television, versatile supporting actor Hector Elizondo gained widespread recognition in large part due to his recurring collaborations with prolific director Garry Marshall. Having entertained earlier interests in sports, music and dance, Elizondo came to acting relatively late in life, but began making headway with stage roles in such Broadway and off-Broadway productions as "The Great White Hope" and "Steambath" - the latter of which won him an Obie Award. Supporting turns in features like "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three" (1974) and "American Gigolo" (1980) provided exposure, but it was the role of a transgender Mafioso in Marshall's feature directorial debut "Young Doctors in Love" (1982) that would alter the trajectory of Elizondo's career from that point forward. Marshall enlisted the chameleon-like actor for virtually every one of his future film projects, although it was Elizondo's performance as a kind-hearted hotel manager in "Pretty Woman" (1990) that made him, if not a household name, an instantly recognizable face. In addition to his continued work with Marshall, he appeared in dozens of other film and television projects, including an award-winning tenure as part of the medical staff on "Chicago Hope" (CBS, 1994-2000). Nearly 30 years after his collaboration with the director first began, Elizondo proved just as dependable and enthusiastic as ever as part of the star-studded cast in Marshall's romantic comedy "New Year's Eve" (2011). Blessed with wit, charm and an impressive range, Elizondo continued to deliver strong, thoughtful performances.
Hector Elizondo was born on Dec. 22, 1936 in New York City to parents Carmen Reyes, a woman of Puerto Rican heritage, and Martin Elizondo, an immigrant from the Basque region of Spain. Although not his initial career choice, the 10-year-old boy began working in radio and television on such programs as "Wendy Barrie's Okey-Dokey Ranch" after attracting the attention of a prominent songwriter during a grade school performance. After graduating from New York's High School of Music and Art, Elizondo briefly attended the City College of New York and worked as a night club musician before an interest in dance drew him to the Ballet Arts Company in 1962. Sadly, a knee injury put an end to that career path within a year. Turning his attention toward acting, he began studying at the famed Stella Adler Theater and was soon appearing off-Broadway in such productions as "Mr. Roberts" and "Kill the One-Eyed Man!" It was around the same time that Elizondo broke into film with a small debut role in the B-movie "The Big Fat Black Pussycat" (1963). More work on the stage came in 1967 with a notable turn in Bertolt Brecht's "Drums in the Night," followed by Elizondo's auspicious Broadway debut alongside James Earl Jones in "The Great White Hope" in 1968.
Still trying to gain entrée to the world of film, Elizondo picked up a minor cop role in the sexploitation drama "The Vixens" (1969), although it was clearly on stage where he was making a name for himself. He garnered serious acclaim in 1970 for his performance as God - in the guise of a Puerto Rican steam room attendant - in Bruce Jay Friedman's off-Broadway comedy "Steambath," directed by Anthony Perkins. The following year, Elizondo won an Obie Award for his performance in the production. Making more notable strides on screen, he appeared with Burt Lancaster in the race-related Western "Valdez is Coming" (1971), and later worked opposite Robert Shaw as a cold-blooded subway highjacker in the taught crime thriller "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three" (1974). Soon after, he starred as family patriarch Abraham Rodriguez on the first Latino-centric network television sitcom, "Popi" (CBS, 1975), just one of the many short-lived series Elizondo would be attached to over the decades. On film, he also landed a rare leading role as an unscrupulous man plotting to murder his overbearing mother-in-law (Geraldine Fitzgerald) in the modest noir thriller "Diary of the Dead" (1976).
Continuing to do his best work on stage, Elizondo earned a Drama Desk nomination for his performance as George C. Scott's scheming servant in "Sly Fox" (1976), Larry Gelbart's contemporary reworking of 15th century playwright Ben Jonson's black comedy "Volpone." He went on to work closely with some of the all-time screen greats, such as James Coburn in the miniseries adaptation of Dashiell Hammett's byzantine potboiler "The Dain Curse" (CBS, 1978), and opposite Sean Connery as a pre-Castro military man in director Richard Lester's "Cuba" (1979). In his first legitimately successful film, Elizondo gave an endearing turn as a detective simultaneously investigating and seeking fashion advice from Richard Gere in writer-director Paul Schrader's "American Gigolo" (1980). It was, however, his first work for director Garry Marshall in the madcap medical spoof "Young Doctors in Love" (1982) that led to one of the longest lasting director-actor working relationships in Hollywood. Soon referred to as his "good luck charm" by the filmmaker, Elizondo would go on to appear in nearly every Marshall movie from that point forward.
Elizondo collaborated with Marshall on a slew of other projects in quick succession. He effectively played Matt Dillon's exasperated yet sympathetic working-class father in "The Flamingo Kid" (1984), Tom Hanks' ad agency boss in "Nothing in Common" (1986), and Julia Roberts' guardian angel - in the form of an empathetic Beverly Hills hotel manager - in "Pretty Woman" (1990). It was the latter smash hit film that the actor credited with taking him from someone who people thought looked familiar, to a reliably recognizable - and bankable - face on film and television. Elizondo completed his fifth cinematic collaboration with Marshall - not counting two uncredited cameos in the director's "Overboard" 1987) and "Beaches" (1988) - in the working-class love story "Frankie and Johnny" (1991), in which he played the penny-pinching Greek owner of a New York City-based greasy spoon. The actor remained busy on the small screen as well, in one notable instance starring as attorney Sandy Stern in the TV miniseries "The Burden of Proof" (ABC, 1992), a courtroom thriller adapted from the best-selling Scott Turow novel.
After several false starts, Elizondo found TV series success with a key role as hospital administrator Dr. Watters on the David E. Kelley-created medical drama "Chicago Hope" (1994-2000) throughout the run of the series, earning himself a 1997 Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in the process. Although Marshall had made one or two films without the actor, Elizondo's near ubiquitous presence in his oeuvre was playfully acknowledged with a title sequence credit of "As usual. Hector Elizondo" in the tepid sex farce "Exit to Eden" (1994). He continued on the Marshall payroll in projects that included "Dear God" (1996), "The Other Sister" (1999), "Runaway Bride" (1999) - the eagerly-awaited reunion of Gere and Roberts - and in the teen fairy tale "The Princess Diaries" (2001). Also that year, he headlined the Latin-flavored "Tortilla Soup" (2001), a loose reworking of the 1994 feature "Eat Drink Man Woman," directed by Ang Lee. The Marshall-directed sequel "Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement" (2004), and "Raising Helen" (2004) followed in short order. Taking a break from the Marshall machine, Elizondo later joined an estimable ensemble cast for the epic Mexico-set family drama "Love in the Time of Cholera" (2007). A misguided adaptation of the revered novel by Gabriel Garcia Márquez, it was, by and large, savaged by most critics.
That same year, Elizondo was cast as Pancho Duque, the patriarch of a powerful Cuban-American family and owner of a rum and sugar company, in the above average primetime soap "Cane" (CBS, 2007-08). Hopeful that he had at last found a worthy television project near and dear to his heart, Elizondo and co-stars Jimmy Smits and Rita Moreno were crushed after a Writers Guild strike in 2007 inexorably led to the show's premature cancellation. Albeit under less than ideal circumstances, the actor soon rebounded with a regular cast role for the final season of the popular cable mystery series "Monk" (USA Network, 2002-09). Elizondo played Dr. Neven Bell, eponymous series star Tony Shalhoub's new psychiatrist after the actor who played Monk's previous doctor, Stanley Kamel, died of a sudden heart attack in 2008. He inevitably returned to the Marshall stable for the successful romantic ensemble comedy "Valentine's Day" (2010), as well as its quasi-sequel "New Year's Eve" (2011), which found the outwardly disparate lives of several New Yorkers unexpectedly intertwining in the hours leading up to the annual dropping of the ball in Times Square.
Cast (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Music (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
TV debut, "The Wendy Barrie Show"
Landed a recurring role on the children's TV series, "Oky Doky Ranch"
Danced with the Ballet Arts Company of Carnegie Hall
Stage debut in Equity Library Theatre production of "Mr. Roberts"
Film debut "The Fat Black Pussycat"
Off-Broadway debut, "Kill the One-Eyed Man"
Made Broadway debut in "The Great White Hope," opposite James Earl Jones
Appeared in "The Vixens"
Won an OBIE Award for his outstanding performance as God in the guise of a Puerto Rican bath attendant in "Steambath"
Had small roles in the films "Pocket Money" and "Deadhead Miles"
Had small role in the NBC TV movie "Columbo: A Case of Immunity"
Played Pancho Villa in the ABC film "Wanted: The Sundance Woman"
Starred as Abraham Rodriguez in TV series, "Popi"
Nominated for a Drama Desk Award for his performance in "Sly Fox," opposite Jackie Gleason
Played Det. Sergeant Dan 'The Bean' Delgado in the TV series, "Freebie and the Bean"
Had a small role in "American Gigolo" as a detective; first pairing with Richard Gere
Played a cop in the thriller "The Fan"
Offered hilarious turn as a drag queen in Garry Marshall's "Young Doctors in Love"
Moved to Los Angeles
Played Captain Louis Renault in the short-lived NBC series "Casablanca"
Starred in the NBC movie "Women of San Quentin"
Had small role in Marshall's comedy "The Flamingo Kid"
Directorial debut, TV series, "aka Pablo" (also star)
Portrayed District Attorney Jesse Steinberg on TV series, "Foley Square"
Third comedy with Marshall, "Nothing in Common"
Had bit part as skipper of a garbage scow in the Goldie Hawn/Kurt Russell starrer "Overboard"; directed by Marshall
Played Dave Whitman in the Fox TV series "Down and Out in Beverly Hills"
Featured as yet another cop in the ABC movie "Addicted to His Love"
Had small role in "Leviathan"
Played Hasan Demir in the TNT production "Forgotten Prisoners: The Amnesty Files"
Updated the fairy godmother role in Marshall's blockbuster modern Cinderella tale "Pretty Woman"; second film with Gere
Played a coach in the football comedy "Nescessary Roughness"
Featured as the owner of the diner where "Frankie and Johnny" work in Marshall's thoughtful romance, starring Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer
Voiced the character of Sheldon Fallbrook on "Batman: The Animated Series"
Starred as Sandy Stern in the ABC miniseries "The Burden of Proof"
Earned Emmy Award nomination for his supporting role in the American Playhouse production of "Mrs. Cage"
Played Dr. Phillip Watters on the CBS medical drama series, "Chicago Hope"; nominated for Emmy Awards for Best Supporting Actor in 1995, 1996 and 1998; won in 1997
Appeared as Dr. Watters on an episode of the TV series "Picket Fences"
Lent voice to the character Malcho on the CBS syndicated cartoon series "Disney's Aladdin"
Played small role as the rich man who trains a vulnerable Dana Delaney to be a dominatrix in Marshall's unpopular S&M comedy "Exit to Eden"
Had featured role in unecessary sequel "Beverly Hills Cop III"
Acted in the Marshall comedy "Dear God"
Played himself on an episode of the CBS comedy "Murphy Brown," where Marshall had a regular co-starring role
Appeared as Dr Phillip Watters in an episode of the CBS drama "Early Edition"
Stole scenes as the new husband of Gere's ex-wife in the blockbuster romantic comedy "Runaway Bride"
Had featured role in "The Other Sister," Marshall's tale of a young developmentally disabled couple in love
Starred opposite Raquel Welch in "Tortilla Soup," a remake of "Eat Drink Man Woman" re-set in the Latino community of L.A.
Once again worked with Garry Marshall, playing the head of security for the monarch of a small country in the comedy "The Princess Diaries"
Again played head of security for the monarch in "The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement"
Cast in the Garry Marshall-directed dark comedy "Georgia Rule"
Had a supporting role in Gabriel Garcia Márquez's "Love in the Time of Cholera"
Joined an ensemble cast for the Garry Marshall-directed romantic comedy "Valentine's Day"
Co-starred with Tim Allen on ABC sitcom "Last Man Standing"
Cast in the ensemble romantic comedy "New Year's Eve," directed by Garry Marshall; Elizondo, Ashton Kutcher, and Jessica Biel were the only actors from "Valentine's Day" to return, but playing different characters