|Michael Conrad played the unforgettable desk
sergeant Phil Esterhaus. As the adorable sergeant, he brought a sensitive,
calming influence amongst all the haste, chaos and drama and was known for
his subtle turn of phrase.
During the fourth series in 1983, Conrad became seriously ill but he
didn’t let urethral cancer stop him going to work. He wanted to be
surrounded by his “on set family” and he passed away during the shooting
of the police drama. Charles Haid (Andy “Cowboy” Renko) said “he died in
Esterhaus was written out of the show in a moving episode called Grace
Under Pressure in which he dies making love to Grace Gardner. When the
sergeant’s cause of death is announced, Andy Renko can be heard saying -
“Damn that was a good way to check out”
His successor Robert Prosky (Stan Jablonski) hard had shoes to fill so
thankfully was written as an entirely different character and changed the
famous roll call end phrase from "Let's be careful out there!" to "Let's
do it to them before they do it to us."
Born October 16th 1925, New York City
Passed away: November 22, 1983, Los Angeles, California aged 58
Won two Best Supporting Actor Emmy Awards, 1981 and 1982
René Enríquez was a Nicaraguan-born actor and according to IMDB the nephew
of General Emiliano Chamorro, one-time president of Nicaragua.
Enríquez played the Hill’s Latino captain Lt. Ray Calletano. A character
often caught between the open racial ignorance of Lt. Howard Hunter and
his inability to rise in the department.
Enríquez died of pancreatic cancer, the same year as Kiel Martin also
Born Nov 24th 1933 Granada, Nicaragua
Passed away March 23rd 1990, Tarzana, California, aged 56
Kiel Martin was best known for his role as lovable-loser, rogue Detective
John La Rue. Known as JD on the Hill, his trademark Italian shoes were as
cheap as his chat up lines and his Rolex as fake as his integrity. JD
showed the darker and more complex effects of being a cop. JD was a real
sleaze too, if it moved he tried to “nail it” and one particular encounter
with the glamorous Joyce Davenport is one rebuttal not to be missed.
Real life mirrored his on screen battles - chain smoking, heavy drinking
and twice divorced – he wasn’t so much acting as revealing his own soul.
Martin’s first wife was the daughter of actor/crooner Dean Martin.
It was eventually a bitter battle with lung cancer which finally took his
life. Martin was once in contention for the lead role in the Oscar winning
film Midnight Cowboy. He also acted alongside Robert Mitchum in the movie
Moonrunners, which inspired the TV series Dukes of Hazzard. Like many
others in the series, he also starred in iconic TV favourites - Perry
Mason and Ironside.
Born Kiel Urban Mueller, July 26th Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
Passed away December 28th, 1990 Rancho Mirage, California, aged 46 years
Trinidad Silva (JR) played the Diablo’s gang leader Jesus Martinez. Known
for his catchphrase “hey Frankie!”
Jesus was a clued up character (*spoiler alert*) who later in the series
transformed, when he switched sides to work for the justice department.
In 1988 he and his family were involved in a serious car accident. Silva
was killed at just aged 38 years old. Silva’s wife and son escaped with
only minor injuries. The driver of the other vehicle pleaded guilty to
drunken driving and vehicular manslaughter. The film he was making at the
time, UHF was later dedicated to his name. Michael Warren who played Bobby
Hill believed Silva died on the verge of becoming a huge star.
Born January 30th 1950, Mission, Texas
Passed away 31st July 1988, Whittier, California (aged 38)