|Birthplace||Brooklyn, New York, United States|
|Born on||October 1, 1962|
Esai Manuel Morales was born October 1, 1962 and is an American actor perhaps best known for his role as Bob Morales in the 1987 biopic "La Bamba". He also appeared in the PBS drama "American Family" and in the Showtime series "Resurrection Blvd". Most recently, he played Major Edward Beck in the CBS drama "Jericho" and is spokesperson for Allstate insurance.
Morales was born in Brooklyn, New York to Puerto Rican-born parents Iris Margarita (née Declet), a union activist involved with the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, and Esai Morales, a welder. Morales began his pursuit of an acting career by attending the School of Performing Arts in Manhattan. His first professional performances were in theater and television in New York, and his first film—"Bad Boys", about teenagers in prison—was released in 1983.
In another role he played a similarly unsympathetic character, the ex-convict/biker half-brother of 1950s rock and roll singer Ritchie Valens in the 1987 movie "La Bamba". Some of his other roles have reflected his socio-political interests, such as "The Burning Season" in 1994, "My Family/Mi Familia" in 1995, "The Disappearance of Garcia Lorca" in 1997, and "Southern Cross" in 1998. In the last three films, as well as in a few others such as "Bloodhounds of Broadway" in 1989 and "Rapa Nui" in 1994, Morales was given roles which highlighted (with increasing amounts of screen time) his acting as a man. He portrayed a police officer with the film "Dogwatch" in 1996. He played Father Herrera in "The Virgin of Juarez".
Morales appeared on television in the mid-1980s, on "Fame". He co-starred with Burt Lancaster in the NBC-TV miniseries, "On Wings of Eagles," playing the Iranian Rashid, the hero of this true story about Ross Perot. Morales has also appeared in "Miami Vice", "The Equalizer", and "24".
In the 1990s, he guest-starred on episodes of "The Outer Limits", "Tales from the Crypt", and two shorter-lived series, "L.A. Doctors" and "The Hunger". He was a featured television actor, seen in a two-part episode of "Family Law" (television series) in 2000. His tenure on "NYPD Blue" as the head of the fifteenth precinct detective squad began in mid-season 2001 and continued until 2004 when he decided to cancel his contract (due mainly to the lack of screen time squad leaders received).
In 1994 he was in the Pauly Shore film In "The Army Now". "Paid in Full" was scheduled for release in October 2002. It marked a return to a criminal character such as those in his previous roles - in this case he played a drug dealer named Lulu.
In 2005, he contributed his voice acting to the video game "True Crime: New York City", playing Sergeant Victor Navarro. He was also cast in the film "American Fusion", and on June 19, 2006, he joined the cast of Fox's series "Vanished", as FBI agent Michael Tyner alongside actors Gale Harold and Ming-Na. The series was later canceled. In 2007, he completed filming for "Kill Kill Faster Faster", which is a contemporary film noir inspired by the critically acclaimed novel of the same name by Joel Rose.
In early 2008, Morales had a lead role in the CBS drama "Jericho" as Major Edward Beck. He appeared in all seven episodes of the shortened second season.
Morales described himself as an "actorvist" primarily and as one of the founders of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, taking inspiration from his mother, who was an organizer for the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. He is also interested in environmental issues and was a founding board member of E.C.O. (Earth Communications Office).
In the February 28, 2007 all-star benefit reading of "The Gift of Peace" at UCLA's Freud Playhouse, he portrays a hopeful member of a struggling immigrant family, and plays alongside actors Ed Asner, Barbara Bain, Amy Brenneman, George Coe, Wendie Malick, and James Pickens, Jr. The play is an open appeal and fundraiser for passage of U.S. House Resolution 808, which seeks to establish a Cabinet-level "Department of Peace" in the U.S. government, to be funded by a two percent diversion of the Pentagon's annual budget.
Esai is also a vegetarian.
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