"The Streets of San Francisco," that well-remembered, if ancient, ground-breaking "real cop" show is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a re-release of the series on DVD…and there are a surprising number of Latino characters in the mix
It's hard to believe that it's been 40 years – forty years! – since The Streets of San Francisco premiered. (A Quinn Martin Production! In COLOR!). Well…maybe not so unbelievable; Michael Douglas looks so young…
And as we look down the long, long list of guest stars for two- and three-parters (long before they called them 'arcs;) it reads like a Who's Who of TV Hollywood c.1975: Bill Bixby, Patty Duke, William Windom, and on and on. But even better: you can find a surprising number of Latino characters from Way Back Then appears as guest stars as well – and not always as street punks or illegals.
Remember: this was long before Latinos were commonplace on network television, especially in roles as professionals or middle-class people. "The Real McCoys" character "Pepino" was only a few years in the past; we were decades away from George Lopez or even Ricardo Montalbán. So it is refreshing and frankly a little astonishing to see such well-remembered (and some still active) Latino character actors loose on the "Streets."
Look closely, and you'll find three separate episodes starring A Martinez as a Latino cop (maybe one of the first on TV?), three other episodes featuring the late Rafael Campos (whose work included "Streetcar named Desire" and "Blackboard Jungle").
Distinguished character actress Carmen Zapata appears in a set of episodes as well, and there are even more: Valentin de Vargas, Rodolfo Hoyos Jr., and the late Edith Diaz, who co-founded the Screen Actors Guild's Ethnic Minorities Committee in 1972. And that doesn't include the one-episode stars.
Glimpses into the past like this remind us what a long, hard road it's been and how much farther we still have to go. But it's good to see those heroes of the day back when it was all beginning – a full forty years in the past.
The DVD is available in retails outlets and online beginning Tuesday, July 3rd.