An actor of seemingly boundless range, New York-born Hector Elizondo began his career as a dancer. His initial training was at the Ballet Arts school of Carnegie Hall, from which he moved on to the Actors Studio. After several years' stage work, Elizondo made an inauspicious movie debut as "The Inspector" in the low-budget sex film The Vixens (1969). He was shown to better advantage in his next film, Hal Ashby's The Landlord (1970), which he followed up with strong character parts in such Manhattan-based productions as The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974) and Thieves (1977). With Young Doctors in Love (1982), Elizondo began his long association with director Garry Marshall, who has since cast the actor in all of his films, in roles both sizable (Matt Dillon's dad in The Flamingo Kid , the cafe owner in Frankie and Johnny ), and microscopic (Overboard ). Elizondo's screen roles have run the gamut from scrungy garbage scow captains to elegant concierges (Pretty Woman). In addition, he has been a regular on several mediocre television series: Popi, Freebie and the Bean, Casablanca (in the old Claude Rains role of Inspector Renault), a.k.a. Pablo, Foley Square, and Down and Out in Beverly Hills, In 1994, Elizondo took on a co-starring role as a demanding chief of surgery on the popular TV medical drama Chicago Hope. Other non-Marshall highlights in his filmography include Tortilla Soup, Overboard, Necessary Roughness, and Music Within.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Originally intended to become a history teacher.
- Studied dance at the Ballet Arts Company of Carnegie Hall.
- Is an accomplished singer and musician; plays classical guitar and conga drums.
- Won an Obie Award for his debut performance in the 1970 play Steambath.
- Has appeared in every feature film directed by Garry Marshall, who considers Elizondo a good-luck charm.
- Is active in several charities, including the Alzheimer's Association and Amnesty International.