I remember him first on ALL IN THE FAMILY with Archie Bunker.
He was very good looking and seemed to be the "go to" guy for likeable Latino characters on TV. Lot's of strength and charm.
Unfortunately when he jumped to the big screen, he seemed to meet horrible deaths in films like BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES, PAPILLON, and THE TOWERING INFERNO where the fire didn't get him, but I believe he was crushed by a falling crate of Vintage Wine.
Over fifteen cast and crew members who had worked on PLANET OF THE APES returned to their roles on the sequel, BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES, including Charlton Heston reprising the part of astronaut “George Taylor.” James Franciscus played “Brent,” an astronaut sent to find Taylor. Both of them end up in an underground city run by telepathic human mutants.
After several television guest shots, Gregory Sierra made his feature film debut playing “Verger,” one of the mutants. Ted Post directed the 1970 film. Leonard Rosenman’s score was released by Amos Records in the form of a concept album that rearranged much of the score and added dialogue from the film. The album was re-issued by Film Score Monthly along with the original score tracks in 2000. La-La Land repeated the program for one of the discs in their 2019 Planet of the Apes box set. BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES cost an estimated $5 million and came in at #14 at the U.S. box office, with a gross of $26.1 million.
GETTING STRAIGHT was a film about campus unrest in which “Harry” (Elliott Gould), a Vietnam vet and former social radical, is conflicted by his desire to become a teacher and by his sympathy with anti-establishment student protests. Harry’s beautiful girlfriend, “Jan” (Candice Bergen), is deeply involved in activism, so she’s part of the very chaos Harry wishes to avoid.
Gregory Sierra had a small role in the film as “Garcia.” Richard Rush directed the 1970 film. Ronald Stein’s score was released on a Columbia LP, but has not been re-issued on CD. GETTING STRAIGHT clawed its way into the top 30 films of the year with a $13.3 million gross.
RED SKY AT MORNING reunited Richard Thomas and Catherine Burns from LAST SUMMER and placed them in a period piece set in 1944 during World War II. Thomas plays 17-year-old “Josh Arnold,” whose father “Frank” (Richard Crenna) has decided to enlist in the Navy, after relocating his family from the southern gentility of Mobile, Alabama, to a ranch in the small town of Sagrado, New Mexico. Josh attends his first day of school inappropriately dressed in a suit, but soon adapts to the casual ways of the Southwest. His introduction to the cultural mix of white, Indian and Mexican inhabitants comes from friends he makes at school: “Steenie Moreno” (Desi Arnaz, Jr.), the town doctor’s bright son, and his platonic friend, “Marcia Davison” (Catherine Burns), who has an unconventionally bawdy and articulate wit. Gregory Sierra, plays “Chamaco,” a sheriff, in the film. James Goldstone directed the picture.
RED SKY AT MORNING opened in May 1971. Several reviews compared the film with the tremendously successful SUMMER OF ‘42, a film released in April 1971 that was also about growing up during World War II. Some speculate that the popularity of SUMMER OF ’42 overshadowed RED SKY AT MORNING, causing the latter to suffer at the box office. A May 1971 New York Times article comparing the two films claimed that they were "two of the first period films to treat the drab forties as an exotic, nostalgic wonderland.” However, a May 1971 Los Angeles Times article contrasted the two films by saying that RED SKY AT MORNING was “past remembered,” while SUMMER OF ’42 was “past imagined.”
RED SKY AT MORNING was re-titled “That Same Summer” at some showings, because the filmmakers believed that the original title did not "convey the intimacy of the story." While SUMMER OF ’42 grossed $62 million, after a short run, RED SKY AT MORNING grossed just $3.6 million. The 112-minute film was sold to television, at which time many scenes were deleted and a voice-over narration by Thomas was added. Today, no print of the original version is known to exist. Billy Goldenberg’s score was released on a Decca LP, but it has not been re-issued on CD.
In MACHISMO – 40 GRAVES FOR 40 GUNS, seven Mexicans come into an American town full of bigots and are faced with defending the town from the "Harris Gang". The gang uses the town as their own private hideout, and the townspeople are cowed into going along with them under the threat of death if they don't. The Mexicans gradually are drawn into helping to save them because “Hidalgo” (Robert Padilla) and “Vicente” (Federico Gómez) fall in love with two of the local women. “Lopez” (Gregory Sierra - under the pseudonym Dirk Peno) begs them to leave but is ignored by the rest of the Mexicans at their own peril.
Paul Hunt directed the 1970 release. Jack Preisner provided the unreleased score.
In 1972's POCKET MONEY, “Jim Kane” (Paul Newman) is a cowboy who possesses more good nature than good sense. Jim hires out as a jack-of-all-trades, and once he gets his hands on enough cash, he heads to Mexico looking for his old friend “Leonard” (Lee Marvin), a wily American who moved south to pursue one of his many failed get-rich-quick schemes. In the courtyard of Leonard’s hotel, local men “Juan” (Hector Elizondo) and “Chavarin” (Gregory Sierra), the sons of government officials, bait Jim, who lashes back verbally but prefers to avoid a fight.
Stuart Rosenberg directed the 1972 film. Alex North's score has not had a release. Even with two top stars, the film cost a reasonable $2.7 million, with both Marvin and Newman working for a low fee in return for a percentage of profits. Profits were also reasonable, with the film racking up an $8.8 million U.S. gross.
A young farm boy (Gary Grimes) who always wanted to be a cowhand talks a tough trail boss (Billy Green Bush) into hiring him on a cattle drive in THE CULPEPPER CATTLE COMPANY. Gregory Sierra has a small part in the film as a “One-eyed Horse Thief.”
The 1972 film marked the directorial debut of Dick Richards, who had previously worked in television production. The film’s score had a few cues by Tom Scott and a lot of Jerry Goldsmith cues tracked in from his previous 20th Century Fox films. The picture was a below-average performer at the U.S. box office, with a $3.8 million gross.
Set in the 1920s, THE WRATH OF GOD follows several foreigners (Robert Mitchum, Victor Buono, and Ken Hutchison) who are being held by a South American revolutionary group led by “Col. Santilla” (John Colicos). They are offered possible freedom if they accept a job to topple a local crazed military dictator, “Thomas De La Plata” (Frank Langella). Gregory Sierra plays De La Plata’s top henchman, “Jurado.”
Ralph Nelson directed the 1972 release. Lalo Schifrin’s score was released by Film Score Monthly in 2007. The film underperformed at the box office, with a $2.2 million U.S. gross.
In 1973's THE THIEF WHO CAME TO DINNER, frustrated by his stagnant, unchallenging, mid-level job as a computer programmer, “Webster McGee” (Ryan O’Neal) decides to quit the Houston Control Data Corporation and live the more exciting life of a jewel thief. After arranging a partnership with fences “Deams” (Ned Beatty) and former prizefighter “Dynamite Hector” (Gregory Sierra), Webster uses his inside information of wealthy businessman “Gene Henderling” (Charles Cioffi) and applies his computer knowledge to break through the high security system at the Henderling mansion while they are on vacation.
Ryan O’Neal, Ned Beatty, and Gregory Sierra in THE THIEF WHO CAME TO DINNER
The Bud Yorkin-directed film is curiously missing on Region 1 DVD. Henry Mancini's score was released on a Warner LP, which was expanded on CD by Film Score Monthly in 2009. The film had only an average take at the box office, with a $5.3 million U.S. gross.
THE CLONES concerns scientist “Dr. Gerald Appleby” (Michael Greene) working in a nuclear accelerator laboratory who barely escapes an explosion, only to find that a duplicate of him is running at large. Two agents, “Nemo” and “Sawyer” (Gregory Sierra and Otis Young), sent out to kill the clone, mistakenly latch on the scientist’s trail instead, and the pursuit and evasion begin. This film may have been the first to use the term “clone,” a word which had been coined by biologist J.B.S. Haldane in 1963.
Gregory Sierra and Otis Young in THE CLONES
THE CLONES was produced and co-directed by Paul Hunt. Hunt began making experimental films in 1965 under the pseudonym H.P. Edwards. Over the next 3 years, he made nearly 60 such films and was also the cinematographer and editor on most of them. His company, Canyon Films, became one of the largest distributors of underground films in America. The first film produced under his own name was SURFARI (1967), a surfing docudrama starring Ricky Grigg. Hunt also directed the violent western MACHISMO - 40 GRAVES FOR 40 GUNS (1970). In 1970, Hunt began working with Orson Welles on THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND. Co-directing THE CLONES with Hunt, in his directorial debut, was Lamar Card. Card and Hunt also co-wrote the story for THE CLONES. Card also appears in the picture in the role of “Dr. Jim Bradigan,” and co-director Paul Hunt appears as a physician.
Under the various working titles of “Dead Man Running,” “The Cloning of Dr. Appleby,” and “The Cloning,” the film went into production on 19 June 1972 in and around Los Angeles. Location shooting took place at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, and in Frazier Park in south-central Kern County. Filming wrapped up in late September 1972. The 95-minute, PG-rated film was released by Film-makers International Releasing Corp. THE CLONES had its opening engagements in late August 1973 in Texas and Florida, where the film broke the house record at the Northgate Theatre in Orlando.
Here’s the trailer for the film:
In its review of the film, Boxoffice magazine called THE CLONES “a well-made science fiction thriller.” Boxoffice noted that “There are plenty of action sequences—roof-top manhunts, tire-squealing car pursuits down torturous mountain roads—and Gregory Sierra (looking a bit like Martin Landau of TV’s ‘Mission Impossible’ but more demonic) is quite effective as the kill-crazy CID agent Nemo; he is surely one of the worst shots in the history of cinema. Michael Greene handles his double role with tight-lipped precision, although there are really few moments when he has time enough to stand still and act. Production values are good.”
Modern reviewers have been less kind. Steven H. Scheuer’s Movies on TV and Videocassette calls THE CLONES “A strange sci-fi thriller that tries, without much luck, for laughs.” The Motion Picture Guide labels it a “routine thriller” with “a few decent moments . . . but the overall effect is tedium.” And while the Martin-Porter DVD & Video Guide feels that “the film is made watchable by the believable performances of Michael Greene and Gregory Sierra, and there’s a terrific roller-coaster chase finale,” the majority of critics side with The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction Movies which calls THE CLONES “An exploitation quickie” that “veers uneasily between self-parody and ponderous action. . . . Once the plot proper gets underway, the film goes steadily downhill.”
Allen D. Allen provided the film’s unreleased score. THE CLONES was broadcast on CBS in 1975. Although onscreen credits include a 1973 copyright statement for Hunt-Card Productions, the film was not registered for copyright at the time of its release. A videocassette of the film was registered for copyright in May 1985, when THE CLONES was released on cassette by Lightning Video. The film has not otherwise been available on physical media for the past 35 years, although it is available for streaming.
In the 1973 prison escape film PAPILLON, convivial prisoner “Julot” (Don Gordon), who has been to French Guiana before, befriends the wary, taciturn “Papillon” (Steve McQueen), telling him how difficult it is to escape from the dangerous area. After they arrive, however, he, Papillon, and “Dega” (Dustin Hoffman) manage to formulate a plan of escape. Once free, Papillon is forced to abandon his compatriots when a group of guards, escorting a prisoner named “Antonio” (Gregory Sierra), attempts to capture them. Papillon flees with Antonio, and they are tracked by Indians.
Gregory Sierra and Steve McQueen in PAPILLON
Franklin J. Schaffner directed the adventure film. Jerry Goldsmith’s score was released by Capitol Records, and made its most recent appearance on an expanded CD from Quartet in 2017.
When one victim in a San Francisco mass murder is a police detective, his partner “Jake Martin” (Walter Matthau) and new partner “Leo Larsen” (Bruce Dern) investigate in THE LAUGHING POLICEMAN. During their investigation, Larsen and Martin visit Hells Angels ammunition and explosives dealers “Vickery” (Gregory Sierra) and “Ripple” (Warren Finnerty).
Walter Matthau, Bruce Dern, and Gregory Sierra in THE LAUGHING POLICEMAN
Stuart Rosenberg directed the 1973 film, which was mainly shot on location in San Francisco. Charles Fox's score did not get a release. The film did modest business, with a $5.3 million U.S. gross.
From April through June 1973, several major studios engaged in a bidding war for the yet-to-be released, high-rise disaster novel, “The Tower,” by Richard Martin Stern. Soon after Warner Bros. outbid producer Irwin Allen and Twentieth Century-Fox, Allen purchased a similarly themed, but not yet published novel, “The Glass Inferno,” by Thomas N. Scortia and Frank M. Robinson. In August 1973, a Daily Variety article revealed that in a historic first, Fox and Warners would join together to finance and release a film to be titled THE TOWERING INFERNO, which would be adapted from both novels. The collaboration came about because of the unique events that led to both studios having the rights to similarly themed novels and the increasingly high cost of action-effects films. Fox had paid $400,000 for “The Glass Inferno,” and Warners paid $300,000 for “The Tower.” The cost for the production was set at $11,000,000.
Producer Allen, who had produced Twentieth Century-Fox’s 1972 successful box office disaster picture, THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE, wanted to direct the new film. But Fox was not comfortable with putting the entire production in his hands. It was decided that Allen would direct the action sequences for the film, and John Guillermin would be hired to direct the actors for non-action sequences. With the second units, there were generally a total of four film units shooting at the same time.
In the original script, the role of the fire chief (known at the time as “Mario Infantino”) was considerably smaller. According to Guillermin, the role was offered to Ernest Borgnine with Steve McQueen playing the architect. McQueen offered to play the fire chief if someone of his star-power would play the architect. So Paul Newman was brought into the project as the architect. Both McQueen and Newman were salaried at one million dollars each for their respective roles, as well as a percentage of the gross. McQueen demanded the script be augmented so that he and Newman had the same number of lines. Both actors insisted on personally doing as many of their own stunts as possible, resulting in Newman receiving a moderate burn and McQueen sustaining a sprained ankle that resulted in several days of shooting him in a seated position. Gregory Sierra played “Carlos” the bartender in the film.
The 1974 film grossed $55 million at the North American box office. John Williams’ score was released on a Warner Bros. LP. An expanded version was released by Film Score Monthly in 2001. La-La Land expanded the release even further in their 2019 John Williams Disaster Movie box set.
Filmed in Mexico, the family television special ANTONIO AND THE MAYOR told a fanciful tale. “Mr. Cervantes” (Xavier Marc) is a teacher sent to a rural town where he encounters “Antonio” (Diego González), an exceptional student. He encourages the gifted boy who decides to take on the village mayor (Gregory Sierra) over a very special bicycle that he won't let anyone use.
Jerry Thorpe directed the film, which aired on CBS on 8 January 1975. Morton Stevens provided the unreleased score.
Gregory Sierra had a recurring role on the CBS comedy series “Sanford and Son”, which starred Redd Foxx as “Fred G. Sanford,” a widower and junk dealer living in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, and Demond Wilson as his son “Lamont Sanford.” Sierra played “Julio Fuentes,” the Sanfords' Puerto Rican next-door neighbor who befriends Lamont. When Julio and his family move in next to the Sanfords, Fred takes an immediate dislike to them and remarks, "There goes the neighborhood." Despite Julio's friendliness, Fred often made insulting ethnic jokes about Julio and openly wished he would return to Puerto Rico, despite the fact that Julio is originally from New York City.
Sierra appeared in 12 episodes of the show, from 1972 to 1975. In the fifth season, Julio moves away. The Sanfords buy his former home and convert it into a boarding house named the Sanford Arms.
Gregory Sierra. Demond Wilson, and Redd Foxx in “Sanford and Son”
In September 1975, Gregory Sierra began appearing in a regular role in the ABC television sitcom “Barney Miller”. The show takes place almost entirely within the confines of the detectives' squad room and Captain Barney Miller's adjoining office of New York City's fictional 12th Precinct, located in Greenwich Village. A typical episode featured the detectives of the 12th bringing in several complainants and/or suspects to the squad room.
Sierra played “Sgt. Miguel ‘Chano’ Amengual,” a dauntless, beleaguered Puerto Rican detective, who is very emotionally attached to his job; as such, he had a habit of getting worked up when things went awry and, when this happened, he tended to explode in rapid Spanish (which Sierra improvised on the spot). His lowest moment comes in "The Hero," when he kills two bank robbers and tries to hide his anguish.
Gregory Sierra in “Barney Miller”
Chano was a regular character for Seasons 1 and 2, then left the show. No explanation was given for his character's absence at the start of Season 3. Gregory Sierra appeared in 35 episodes of the series.
Ron Glass, Gregory Sierra, Hal Linden, Max Gail, and Abe Vigoda in “Barney Miller”