On Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 3:30pm, Luis Avalos, a most beloved actor/director passed away of a heart failure at St. Joseph's Hospital in Burbank, CA surrounded by friends and family. Millions of TV viewers will remember watching Avalos in PBS's The Electric Company where he appeared in over 650 episodes.
The sudden death of a true Latino pioneer in the entertainment industry and a dear friend and mentor to so many, sent shock waves throughout the Latino community and within minutes of his passing memories of those who knew him were being shared on Facebook and social media.
Born September 2, 1946 in Havana Cuba Avalos immigrated to New York as an infant with his father Jose Antonio Avalos and Estrella De Leon. He began his television career in his early 20's on the Emmy and Grammy award-winning program Electric Company (1972-1977) working alongside actors like Morgan Freeman, Rita Moreno, and Bill Cosby.
In recent years, Mr. Avalos appeared in Dennis Leoni's Resurrection Blvd., as Father Mario Reyes. He has also starred on several series, including Condo (1983) with McLean Stevenson and Julie Carmen as well as Ned Blessing: The Story of My Life and Times (1993). His guest starring credits include: Soap, Fame, E. R. and NYPD Blue, among many others. He also co-starred in films such as The Ringer with Johnny Knoxville in 2005. More recently, Mr. Avalos worked with Christopher Walken and Sharon Stone in the 2008 film $5 A Day.
In 1993 he wrote, directed and produced the award-winning special for the Telemundo Network, El Regalo de Paquito for which he received an Emmy nomination for best director and honors from the Columbus Film Festival and UNICEF.
Active in the Latino entertainment community, Mr. Avalos gave generously of his time and leadership to help organizations such as Nosotros, The Ricardo Montalban Foundation, Bilingual Foundation of the Arts, Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival and the Imagen Foundation. He worked tirelessly to help bring about a more diverse and inclusive television and film industry.
But it was in his community that Avalos made the biggest impact among Latinos. In 2000 Avalos founded The Americas Theatre Arts Foundation in Los Angeles and served as his artistic director.
His musical Paquito's Christmas which premiered at the Los Angeles Theater Center in 1994 became a holiday tradition in Los Angeles earning him a 2002 Imagen Award for Best Theatrical Production. This play would go on to mentor, introduce and provide a place for hundreds of talented Latino actors to work their craft and share the Latino Christmas traditions.
Luis Avalos will be remembered as the talented actor/director he was; a pioneer in the entertainment industry; a loving son to Estrellita (as his mother was known to all); and most of all for the twinkle in his eye, his jokes, his laughter and as the best friend he was to all who knew him.
Details will be announce for the memorial services which will be open to the public.