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Antonio Fargas Biography

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Birth Name: Antonio Fargas
Born: 08/14/1946
Birth Place: New York, New York, USA

Although best remembered for his role as a loveable street informant named Huggy Bear on the 1970s cop show "Starsky & Hutch" (ABC 1975-79), Antonio Fargas had a long and prolific acting career that stretched all the way back to the early 1960s. He made his feature film debut at the age of 14 as a Harlem teenager in 1963's "The Cool World," and by the early 1970s was making a name for himself with roles in numerous Blaxploitation films. Some of the films he appeared in during this time, like "Shaft" (1971), "Across 110th Street" (1972) and "Foxy Brown" (1974), are considered classics of the largely discontinued genre. Fargas' breakout role, however, came in 1975 when he landed a recurring part as the well-liked street snitch on "Starsky & Hutch." The show ended after four years, but Fargas continued to act in TV and movies, including some memorable cameos in the Wayans Brothers films "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka" (1988) and "Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood" (1996), thus underscoring his longevity in an otherwise cutthroat business.

Born in New York City in 1946 to a Puerto Rican father and Trinidadian mother, Antonio Fargas developed a love of acting at a very young age. His first on-screen role came in 1963, when, at the age of 14, he landed a small part in "The Cool World," director Shirley Clark's gritty crime drama about African-American teenagers in New York's Harlem. After nabbing a bit part on "Ironside" (NBC 1967-75), Fargas landed his breakout role in director Robert Downey Sr.'s cult comedy "Putney Swope" (1969). His role as "The Arab" in that film put Fargas on the radar of director Gordon Parks, who proceeded to cast the young actor in his 1971 Blaxploitation action film "Shaft." The huge success of that film made Fargas a marketable name in the burgeoning Blaxploitation genre, and over the next few years he appeared in some of the genre's most memorable films, including "Across 110th Street," "Cleopatra Jones" (1973), and "Foxy Brown." By the mid-'70s, however, the Blaxploitation genre was beginning to wear thin on the public, but luckily for Fargas, he was able to leverage his star-power into what would become the defining role of his career.

As Huggy Bear on ABC's "Starsky & Hutch," Fargas played an endearing street informant with a penchant for flashy clothes. The role made Fargas an overnight star, and by the end of the series' four season run in 1979, Huggy Bear had become one of the most recognizable characters on network television. Although his career would never quite reach the heights of his "Starsky & Hutch" days, Fargas continued to act throughout the ensuing decades. He landed a recurring part on the daytime soap "All My Children" (ABC 1970-2011), and made a memorable cameo in the Blaxploitation spoof, "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka," playing a 1970s-vintage street hustler whose outfit included a pair of platform shoes with live goldfish in the heels. It was during the '80s and '90s that Fargas also began turning his attention to the stage. He appeared in Melvin Van Peebles' "Ain't Suppose to Die a Natural Death," as well as numerous Off-Broadway productions. Fargas later nabbed a recurring part on Chris Rock's semi-autobiographical sitcom "Everybody Hates Chris" (The CW 2005-09). Fargas continued to act in movies well into the 2010s, with an appearance as an Army major in the Christmas movie "Silver Bells" (2013).