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Jimmy Smits (1955)

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  Summary  

Jimmy Smits is an American actor. Smits is perhaps best known for his roles as attorney Victor Sifuentes on the 1980s legal drama L.A. Law, as NYPD Detective Bobby Simone on the 1990s police drama NYPD Blue, and as Congressman and then President Matthew Vincente Santos on The West Wing. He is also notable for his portrayal of Bail Organa in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, and Miguel Prado in Dexter. In the fall of 2010, he starred in NBC's short-lived series Outlaw, about a U.S. Supreme Court justice who leaves the bench to return to practicing law.

  Biography  

 early life
Smits was born in Brooklyn, New York. His father, Cornelius Smits, was a Surinamese immigrant of Dutch descent who managed a screen-printing factory. His mother, Emilina, was a Puerto Rican who worked as a nurse. Smits was raised in a strict devout Roman Catholic family. "Jimmy" is actually the name on his birth certificate, rather than "Jim" or "James." He has two sisters, Yvonne and Diana. He grew up in a working-class neighborhood and spent time in Puerto Rico during his childhood. Smits earned a bachelor's degree from Brooklyn College in 1980 and an MFA from Cornell University in 1982. Though born in New York, Smits has deep Puerto Rican roots and frequently visits the island. In 2001, he was arrested for his participation in protests against U.S. Navy bombing practices on the Puerto Rican offshore island of Vieques.

 career
A notable early role played by Smits was that of Eddie Rivera in the series premiere of Miami Vice. In the episode, he was Sonny Crockett's original partner, only to be shortly killed off in a sting gone wrong. He played Victor Sifuentes in the first five seasons of the long-running legal drama L.A. Law.

Smits played a Conky Repairman on Pee-wee's Playhouse as one of the show's memorable characters. He also starred in the multigenerational story of a Chicano family in My Family/Mi Familia in 1995.

A new audience became aware of Smits for his appearance as Senator Bail Organa of Alderaan who appears in the film Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and becomes Princess Leia's adoptive father in the film Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. He reappears as Bail Organa in the game Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.

In 1999, he received the HOLA Award for Excellence from the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors .

Smits was to have hosted the 2001 Latin Grammy Awards broadcast on 9/11, but it was called off because of the terrorist attacks that day. He instead hosted a non-televised press conference to announce the winners.

Smits played the role of Congressman Matt Santos of Houston, Texas in the final two seasons of the American television drama The West Wing, joining fellow L.A. Law alumnus John Spencer. Smits's character eventually ran for and won the US Presidency in the series.

For the third season of Dexter, Smits played the role of Miguel Prado, an assistant district attorney who befriends Dexter. Smits was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for the role. Additionally, he portrayed the character, Alex Vega, in the CBS TV series, Cane which aired from September 25, 2007 to December 18, 2007 and was subsequently cancelled by the network due to the 2007 Screen Writer's Guild strike.

 Stage performances
In the mid-1980s Smits acted in numerous performances at the in Ithaca, New York. His roles at the Hangar included "Max" in the 1982 production of Cabaret and "Paul" in Loose Ends the same year. Smits has participated in the Public Theater's New York Shakespeare Festival, playing the role of Duke Orsino in Twelfth Night in 2002, and Benedick in Much Ado about Nothing in 2004. From November 2009 to February 2010 he appeared opposite Christine Lahti, Annie Potts, and Ken Stott in the critically lauded Broadway play, God of Carnage, replacing Jeff Daniels.

 personal life
Smits was married to Barbara Smits from 1981 until their divorce in 1987. They have two children, Taina and Joaquin . Since 1986, Smits has been in a relationship with actress Wanda De Jesus. They live in Los Angeles, where Smits is a fixture in his local Jai alai league. Smits helped found the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts to advance the presence of Latinos in the media, telecommunications and entertainment industries. Smits is also an advocate for diagnostic colorectal screening and has appeared in a public service commercial. Most recently, Smits filmed a PSA for Detroit Non-Profit Cass Community Social Services. Smits will act as the Honorary Chair of their 6th Annual "Catch the Fireworks With Cass" event that takes place during the notable fireworks display in Detroit.

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  • Outlaw
    Executive producer
    2010

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Jimmy Smits", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.