Erik Estrada is an American actor of Puerto Rican descent, best known for his co-starring lead role as Francis "Ponch" Poncherello in the 1977–1983 television series CHiPs.
A veteran of over 100 screen titles, Estrada made his screen debut in the lead role of Nicky Cruz in the 1970 film The Cross And The Switchblade
In 1974, Estrada landed a big break in the successful disaster film Airport 1975, in which he played a featured role as the flight engineer on a Boeing 747. His character was killed in a midair collision.
Two years later, he was a featured player in the military historical epic Midway, as a fictional airman Ens. "Chili Bean" Ramos.
In 1977, Estrada began playing the role of Francis "Ponch" Poncherello, an Italian-American California Highway Patrol officer on the television action series CHiPs.
Estrada became a teen idol, appearing on the cover of Tiger Beat and other publications. In the 1980s, after CHiPs was cancelled, Estrada had few television or movies roles.
When he landed Johnny in "Dos mujeres, un camino" (Two Women, One Road) in 1993, he had to take 30 straight eight-hour days of Berlitz Spanish lessons before he could begin.
Originally slated for 100 episodes, the show went to 400-plus episodes, became the biggest telenovela in Latin-American history and revived Estrada's almost non-existent career.
In 1995, he made a special guest appearance as Ponch in punk rock band Bad Religion's music video Infected. In 1998, he returned as the character in the TNT made-for-tv movie CHiPs '99, along with the rest of the original cast.
In 2002 he played a Spanish game show host on the Disney Channel series Lizzie McGuire with Hilary Duff.
He has also had a regular role doing voiceovers for the Cartoon Network show Sealab 2021, which also gave him the opportunity to parody himself.
The show has featured several CHiPs homages and his character, First Mate Marco Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar Gabriel Garcia Marquez, is played as a stereotypical Latin macho character.
Estrada has also guest-starred on the children's cartoon Maya and Miguel.
Estrada has appeared in music videos, such as Eminem's music video "Just Lose it". He has a band named after him (Estradasphere) based in Santa Cruz, California.
Estrada has also made numerous guest appearances on television shows, including Kojak; The Six Million Dollar Man; Hunter; L.A. Law; The Nanny; Cybill; Baywatch; Walker, Texas Ranger; The Wayans Bros.; Unhappily Ever After; the Nickelodeon comedy Drake & Josh; Scrubs; The Guardian; and According to Jim.
Estrada has appeared in recent years in a number of reality television shows. In 2004 he starred in both the second season of The Surreal Life and in Discovery Health Body Challenge.
In 2007 he co-starred in the short-lived CBS reality show, Armed & Famous. The series followed five celebrities as they trained to become reserve police officers for the Muncie, Indiana, police department, followed by graduation.
After that, the celebrities went on patrol with the same training officers who traditionally ride with new officers.
The series starred Erik Estrada, La Toya Jackson, Jack Osbourne, Trish Stratus, and Jason Acuña (a.k.a. "Wee Man" on Jackass).
It was cancelled after two episodes had aired.