In the interview on-air and in between our on-camera segments, what was the main thing that we two men of color from different generations talked about? Diversity and inclusion in the entertainment industry. Mr. Montalban was one of those veteran performers who gave me a huge compliment. He said that he was proud of me for having that show...because he knew what the odds were against me having a show like that. Montalban said his community needed to take tips from our black community and get more vocal about the lack of equal show biz opportunities. This was in 1988.
Rita Moreno expressed that same exact sentiment in her L.A. TIMES interview last month.
Mexicans and Mexican-Americans were, I'm grateful to say, were part of my everyday life growing up in L.A. My hometown was rich and ripe Mexican-American talent and stories. But the only TV show about a lead character who was Mexican was CHICO AND THE MAN (1974). The next that I can recall was the George Lopez sitcom in 2002. I noticed and was bothered by that lack of representation on network television.
MGM's TOPPER, THE THIN MAN and DR. KILDARE lead characters were adapted into TV series form. I still feel that MYSTERY STREET could've been spun off into a solid TV series in the 1950s, 60s or 70s. Det. Peter Morales could've used forensics to help him solve crimes every week on TV. What great representation that would've been for Hispanic/Latino viewers. Here's a clip featuring Ricardo Montalban in MYSTERY STREET.