Jul. 9th, 1955
Brooklyn, New York, USA
Jimmy Smits' Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
Jimmy Smits (born July 9, 1955) is an American actor. Smits is perhaps best known for his roles on the 1980s legal drama L.A. Law as Richard Dysart's youngest uptight law partner, Victor Sifuentes, who was also the firm's pro-bono lawyer (a role he played from 1986 to 1991), and as Dennis Franz's second partner, Det. Bobby Simone, in NYPD Blue (a role he played from 1994 to 1998), a police officer who was a widower, as well as his role on The West Wing as congressman and presidential candidate Matt Santos, opposite Alan Alda, Bradley Whitford, and Martin Sheen. He appeared in a major role in the third season of Dexter.
Smits was born in PUEBLO,COLORADO. His father, Cornelius Smits, was a Surinamese immigrant of Dutch descent who managed a screen-printing factory. His mother, Emilina, was a Puerto Rican who worked as a nurse. He has 2 sisters, Yvonne and Diana. He grew up in a devoutly Catholic family in a working-class neighborhood and spent time in Puerto Rico during his childhood. Smits earned a bachelor's degree from Brooklyn College in 1980 and an MFA from Cornell University in 1982. Though born in New York, Smits has deep Puerto Rican roots and frequently visits the island. He was arrested for his participation in protests against U.S. Navy bombing practices on the Puerto Rican offshore island of Vieques.
A notable early role played by Smits was that of Eddie Rivera in the series premiere of Miami Vice. In the episode, he was Sonny Crockett's original partner, only to be shortly killed off in a sting gone wrong. He played Victor Sifuentes in the first five seasons of the long-running legal drama L.A. Law.
Smits played a Conky Repairman on Pee-wee's Playhouse as one of the show's memorable characters. He also starred in the multigenerational story of a Chicano family in My Family/Mi Familia in 1995.
A new audience became aware of Smits for his appearance as Senator Bail Organa of Alderaan who appears in the film Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and becomes Princess Leia's adoptive father in the film Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. His likeness and voice are also used for the character in the game Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.
Smits was to have hosted the 2001 Latin Grammy Awards broadcast, but it was called off because of the terrorist attacks that day. He instead hosted a non-televised press conference to announce the winners.
Smits played the role of Congressman Matt Santos of Houston, Texas in the final two seasons of the American television drama The West Wing, joining fellow L.A. Law alumnus John Spencer. Smits's character eventually ran for and won the US Presidency in the series.
For the third season of Dexter, Smits played the role of Miguel Prado, an assistant district attorney who befriends Dexter and takes part in his killings. Smits was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for the role. Additionally, he portrayed the character, Alex Vega, in the CBS TV series, Cane which aired from September 25, 2007 to December 18, 2007 and was subsequently cancelled by the network due to the 2007 Screen Writer's Guild strike.
- Honored by the Congressional Award in Washington, DC with the 1997 Horizon Award. The Horizon Award is a special recognition from the Joint Leadership of the United States Congress and the Congressional Award Board of Directors. The Horizon Award is presented to individuals from the private sectors who have contributed to expanding opportunities for all Americans through their own personal contributions, and who have set exceptional examples for young people through their successes in life.
- Was named as "King of Brooklyn" at the Welcome Back to Brooklyn Festival in 1991
- Turned down the offer to play a character named Flinn on NYPD Blue. The character in question was later renamed Det. John Kelly, played by David Caruso. Ironically, after Caruso's departure from the show in 1994, Smits accepted the role of Det. Bobby Simone (Det. Kelly's successor).
- Has had a difficult time returning to television in recent years. In 1998, after leaving "NYPD Blue," he signed a deveolpment deal with ABC, but nothing ever came of it. Three years later, in 2001, he was set to play the lead in the NBC show "UC:Undercover," but his commitments to ABC forced him to back out just four days before the pilot was shot. Shortly after, in September 2001, he inked a new seven-figure deal with ABC to develop a series for the 2002-2003 television season, but once again, the deal failed to produce a series. Later, in 2002, he turned down the chance to play the lead in "CSI:Miami" and backed out of the lead role in "Boomtown" at the last minute. In 2004 he was attached to star in a Jerry Bruckheimer produced drama for NBC called "City of Dreams" as an L.A. private investigator who caters to the rich and famous. However, script problems eventually caused that project to be scrapped. Finally, in August 2004 he inked a deal to join the cast of "The West Wing" for the 2004-2005 season, and a few weeks later, made a separate deal with ABC and Touchstone studios to develop and star in a new series after his time on "The West Wing."
- Graduate of Cornell University, M.F.A. '82
- Graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, Theatre degree from Brooklyn College in 1980.
- Divorced father of two.
- Smits has been living with 'Wanda De Jesus' (qv) since c. 1986.