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Jimmy Smits

Smits at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival
Born July 9, 1955 (1955-07-09) (age 54)
Brooklyn, New York, United States
Spouse(s) Barbara Smits (1981-1987)
Domestic partner(s) Wanda de Jesus (1986 - Present)

Jimmy Smits (born July 9, 1955) is an American actor. Smits is perhaps best known for his roles as lawyer Victor Sifuentes on the 1980s legal drama L.A. Law (a role he played from 1986 to 1991), as Detective Bobby Simone in the 1990s police drama NYPD Blue (a role he played from 1994 to 1998), and also as Matt Santos on The West Wing (which he played from 2004-06). He is also notable for portraying Bail Organa in the Star Wars prequel trilogy.

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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.[1] He has 2 sisters, Yvonne and Diana. He grew up in a working-class neighborhood and spent time in Puerto Rico during his childhood.[2][3] 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. He was arrested for his participation in protests against U.S. Navy bombing practices on the Puerto Rican offshore island of Vieques.[4]

Career

Smits at the 39th Annual Emmy Awards in 1987

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.

Smits was to have hosted the 2001 Latin Grammy Awards broadcast on September 11th, 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 and takes part in his killings.[5] 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.

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Stage Performances

Smits is currently starring as "Alan" (opposite Christine Lahti, Annie Potts, and Ken Stott) in the critically lauded Broadway play, God of Carnage, replacing Jeff Daniels. He will perform the role beginning November 17, 2009 until the show's closing on February 28, 2010.

Personal life

Smits was married to Barbara Smits from 1981 until their divorce in 1987. They have two children, Taina (born in 1973) and Joaquin (born in 1983). Since 1986, Smits has been in a relationship with actress Wanda De Jesus. They reside in Los Angeles. Smits helped found the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts[6] to advance the presence of Latinos in the media, telecommunications and entertainment industries. Jimmy is also an advocate for diagnostic colorectal screening and has appeared in a public service commercial.

Filmography

See also

References

External links


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