Erik Estrada’s career has spanned more than four decades, although it was for his dynamic portrayal of Officer Francis ‘Frank’ Poncherello – affectionately known as “Ponch” – in the hit series, “CHiPs” that he became a household name.
Raised in New York City’s Spanish Harlem, he learned lessons of honor and integrity that he has carried with him throughout his life. His incredible journey from the projects in Spanish Harlem to the Hollywood Hills is shared in his autobiography, Erik Estrada...My Road from Harlem to Hollywood.
His first real acting break came when actor/director Don Murray selected him to star as a streetwise character opposite Pat Boone in The Cross and the Switchblade, a film that is still shown every week at about 500 youth centers across the country because of its powerful anti- drug message. Following that film, he was convinced that the role of Sergio, a rookie policeman in The New Centurions with George C. Scott was perfect for him, but the producers did not agree. Undaunted, Estrada finally landed the part.
Estrada has been discovered by a whole new generation and culture who know him as Johnny from the #1 international series for Televisa entitled “Dos Mujeres, Un Camino.”
Estrada has emerged as a pop culture icon. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which he proudly dedicated to all the women and men in law enforcement. The WB cast him as the father of the house for the second season of their hit series, “Surreal Life.
He has starred in many films internationally and guest-starred in countless one-hour dramas. Recently he has enjoyed sitcom work on many series including Disney’s hits “Liv and Maddie,” “Big Time Rush” and “Drake & Josh.” He has been a regular character on two animated series, “Sealab 2021” for the Cartoon Network and “The Misadventures of Maya and Miguel” for PBS. He has numerous national advertising campaigns and endorsements in both traditional Anglo markets as well as the Latino media marketplace.
Estrada continues to be a great supporter of police officer organizations throughout the world and because of this continual interest and commitment he is now also fulfilling one of his childhood dreams – he actually joined the ranks of law enforcement a decade ago by becoming a sworn reserve police officer for the Muncie P.D. in the state of Indiana, and moved over to Virginia with the Bedford County Sheriff Dept., where he became an I.C.A.C. investigator for eight years.
While beginning his work in Virginia, Estrada was introduced to the Safe Surfin’ Foundation whose mission is to educate all school age children on the dangers of the internet and the predators sometimes affiliated with it. His concern for the safety of these children as well as his own daughter, made him immediately commit to this crusade and he is working to have internet safety & education implemented in all schools for children K - 12.
Through his continual dedication, Estrada has been instrumental in educating people across the country on the importance of car seats for all children, the dangers of drugs and most recently, the very real dilemma facing our children, internet predators.
He lends his support to other such commendable charitable causes as CHiPs for Kids, Cops for Tots, the Thalians, March of Dimes, United Way, Susan G. Komen, Aids L.A., Walk to Erase MS and Standup for Skate Parks to name a few.
Off-screen, Estrada prides himself as a home handyman who is constantly enhancing things around the Hollywood Hills house that he and his wife, Nanette, reside in with their daughter, Francesca. He is also the father of two grown sons, Anthony and Brandon. While he works hard at everything he does, Estrada is known by his friends and colleagues as a committed husband, father and family man and a true professional in his craft.