Date of Birth : Dec 22nd 1936
By the age of ten Mr. Elizondo showed signs of musical ability and W.C. Handy recommended him to the Frank Murray Boy’s Choir, with which Elizondo subsequently appeared on local radio and television. After graduating from Booker T. Washington Jr. High in 1951, he went to the High School of Music and Art as a voice major, in addition to attending public high school, where he played baseball and was scouted by the New York [now San Francisco] Giants, and the Pittsburgh Pirates.
In 1954 Mr.Elizondo went to New York City College, with the intent of becoming a teacher of History. While studying at night, he worked in the day at a sheet metal shop, and on the weekends played guitar and conga drums in a band. After having married early, he became the father of a son, Rodd. Mr. Elizondo was forced to leave school as a freshman in order to work full-time to support his family.
A year later he was divorced, and in what could be considered a rather progressive ruling for the times, Mr. Elizondo was granted full custody of his son. Mr. Elizondo was offered a recording contract but turned the offer down when the company suggested that he should change his music style.
His first major success came playing GOD in guise of the Puerto Rican steam room attendant in Bruce Jay Friedman’s “Steambath”. While the play itself got mixed reviews, Mr. Elizondo was highly praised and won an Obie award for his efforts. As he didn’t want to be type-casted Mr. Elizondo chose his roles carefully.
As a result of that his career didn’t take-off as it should. Mr. Elizondo also choose his roles regarding his personal integrity. This didn’t stay unrecognized when he achieved the “Integrity Award from Diversity Awards for Integrity of Roles chosen”. Mr. Elizondo then appeared in several films (i.e. The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3, Cuba). He returned to the stage in New York and played Simon Able, George C. Scott’s scheming servant in “Sly Fox” – which earned him a Drama Desk nomination for outstanding performance.
In the 80’s Mr. Elizondo starred in several tv-shows and here began his friendship with Garry Marshall. They met in Marshall’s driveway during one of Marshall’s basketball plays. Mr. Elizondo made a memorable first impression by throwing a behind-the-back pass right into Marshall’s face. “You’re a better actor than you are a passer,” Marshall said, once he realized his jaw wasn’t broken. They’ve been best friends ever since. “Before I met him, all I knew was that he was an actor who played Puerto Rican drug dealers,” Marshall says now. “Then I saw him in a couple of plays and I said, ‘Whow, you can do other things.’ You put a toupee on him and he looks like a different guy. And I said to him, I promise you’ll never have to play a Puerto Rican drug dealer for me.” Since then Mr. Elizondo had a role in every of Mr. Marshall’s movies. (Garry Marshall once stated in an interview: “Hector is my good luck charm.”)