Erik Estrada (born March 16, 1949 in New York City) is an American actor of Puerto Rican descent who reached considerable fame as Francis "Ponch" Poncherello, a California Highway Patrol officer, on the 1977-1983 US television series CHiPs.
Estrada became a teen idol during the era, appearing on the cover of Tiger Beat and other publications. This allegedly caused the jealousy of one of his CHiPs co-workers. The series was canceled after six seasons.
In the 1970 Hollywood production of The Cross and the Switchblade, Erik played the role of Nicky Cruz alongside actor/singer Pat Boone who played the role of David Wilkerson.
In the 1980s, Estrada had little luck trying to get back into television or movies, but in the 1990s he made a comeback: He played Johnny, a Tijuana trucker, in the Televisa telenovela Dos mujeres, un camino ("Two women, one road"). He earned one million dollars for that work and became famous again.
In 2002 he made a brief comeback, playing a Spanish game show host on the hit Disney Channel series Lizzie McGuire with Hilary Duff. He has also had a regular role doing voice work for the Cartoon Network show Sealab 2021, which also gave him the opportunity to parody himself. The show has featured several CHiPs homages and his character, First Mate Marco Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar Gabriel Garcia Marquez, is played as a stereotypical Latin macho-man. In many children's half-hour cartoons, including Maya & Miguel, Estrada serves as a guest star.
Estrada also appears in a long-running series of infomercials, selling property in Siskiyou County, California; Lake Shastina, California; Ocean Shores, Washington; and Colorado, and recently, Tellico Village, Tennessee. He has also been appearing in commericals for real estate in Arizona, Arkansas, and Florida.
Estrada has also often been seen in music videos and most recently appeared 2004 in Eminem's music video "Just Lose it". He has a band named after him (Estradasphere) based in Santa Cruz, California. He also starred in the second season of VH1's "Surreal Life" celebrity reality series in 2004.
Parlaying his CHiPs fame for the public good, Estrada has also made numerous appearances supporting automobile child-seat safety checks in states including Illinois and Indiana.
Estrada also made a guest appearances on The Wayans Bros., Unhappily Ever After and the Nickelodeon comedy Drake & Josh.