Whatever Happened to Erik Estrada?

Updated on March 5, 2020
Rachelle Williams profile image

I was an 80s teen, so I love to cover all things easily recognizable to Generation X!

Most members of Generation X will remember Erik Estrada from his role as officer Frank "Ponch" Poncherello on the popular 70s TV show, CHiPS. Each week, Ponch and his partner, John (actor Larry Wilcox), rode into our living rooms as California Highway Patrol (CHP) motorcycle officers, where they solved complex crimes in the span of an hour.

Both Ponch and John were handsome and were considered to be sex symbols; John was the buff blonde guy and Ponch was the sexy Latin dude. ChiPS aired for six seasons from 1977 to 1983. It also had one reunion TV movie in the late 1990s. The 90s era reunion show was probably the last time most people had seen either actor, but if you stick with me, we'll catch up and discover whatever happened to Erik Estrada...

Early Years

Erik Estrada hails from East Harlem, Manhattan, New York; he was born on March 16, 1949. His family are of Puerto Rican descent. He got his start in movies in a crime drama called The Cross and the Switchblade (1970), and from there, he appeared in many popular 70s TV staples like Hawaii Five-O, Kojack, Medical Center, Mannix, Barnaby Jones, and The Six Million Dollar Man. Most fans would agree that he got his "big break" when he was cast as Officer Francis "Frank" Poncherello on the TV Show CHiPS in 1977.

After CHiPS

After CHiPS ended, Estrada went on to appear in an unprecedented amount of 80s and 90s era TV staples, such as Hunter, Alfred Hitchcock Presents (80s reboot), The Nanny, Cybill, Baywatch, The Wayan's Bros, and Martin, just to name a few. He also found time to take roles in TV movies like Caged Fury (1990), Loaded Weapon 1 (1993), and The Modern Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1998).

He lent his voice to animated series like Family Guy, King of the Hill and Sealab 2021, and he even had a multi-episode stint on the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful in 2001. Estrada spent some time on popular Telenovas for a while, and more recently, he has appeared in TV shows like Liv and Maddie and Malibu Dan the Family Man.

In the recent film reboot of ChiPS (2017), Estrada made an uncredited appearance as a paramedic. The reboot starred Michael Pena as Ponch and Dax Shepard as Jon, but the movie didn't fare well and Estrada publicly expressed his negative opinion of the project.

Feud With George Lopez

After CHiPS ended, Estrada constantly worked, but the thing that somewhat kept him relevant to many was an on-going feud with comedian George Lopez. As the story goes, Lopez says when he was a kid, he approached Estrada for his autograph. Estrada allegedly turned down Lopez's request and the comedian held a strong grudge since that time.

According to Estrada, he says he was tired of Lopez trashing his name, so he met up with him at a church event and he attempted to "squash their beef" with words, but Lopez refused. Estrada says he then invited Lopez to settle the dispute "in the streets," but Lopez again refused, saying he was a comedian, not a fighter...

Erik Estrada Today

To the surprise of everyone, Erik Estrada became a reserve police officer for the Muncie Police Department in Indiana. Today, he is a reserve officer in St. Antohny, Idaho. He is a member of the Blue Knights motorcycle club, and he has been spotted riding around town on his bike in his service as a reserve officer.

It was recently revealed that Estrada once dated superstar Marie Osmond, but today, he is married to his second wife, film sound technician Nanette Mirkovich. The couple have one child, a daughter by the name of Francesca Natalia—she is an aspiring actress, so be on the lookout for her. Estrada also has two sons from a previous marriage, one of his sons is pole vaulter Brandon Michael-Paul Estrada. Erik and Nanette live in Hollywood Hills.

At the time of this publishing, Erik Estrada has recently completed an appearance on an upcoming TV movie called Spring Break '83 (2020). He's still acting, so we can expect to see much more from this 70s era Hollywood hunk.

Who was your favorite CHiPS officer?

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