cover image Erik Estrada: My Road from Harlem to Hollywood

Erik Estrada: My Road from Harlem to Hollywood

Erik Estrada. William Morrow & Company, $22 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-688-14293-3

Estrada, best known in the U.S. for his role as Ponch in the 1970s TV series CHiPs (celebrating its 20th anniversary this year) and now internationally famous as the star of Dos Mujeres, un Camino (Two Women, One Direction), the Mexican telenovela, tells a not unusual story of rags to riches to rags to riches. From the East Bronx's Puerto Rican barrio (where he recalls that being poor was ""a frame of mind I just never remember being acquainted with""), he entered acting school in Manhattan, landed small roles in films such as The New Centurions and Airport 1975, then moved on to frequent guest appearances on series such as Kojak and Hawaii 5-0. Hired as a sort of second banana for CHiPs (which stands for California Highway Patrol), he quickly eclipsed star Larry Wilcox, leading to permanent guerrilla warfare between the two. Always a fighter, Estrada struggled against exploitation by agents and studio execs and developed a reputation as a difficult actor, which hurt him after CHiPs's run ended. As he tells it, he was spectacularly successful in attracting women but a bad judge of their character, contracting two disastrous marriages until he finally got it right the third time around. His autobiography, written with Seay (Mick Jagger), may appeal to those who can identify with his rise, but others will find it a run-of-the-mill showbiz tale. Photos not seen by PW. Author tour. (May)