Tommy Muñiz

Last updated

Tommy Muñiz
Born
Lucas Tomás Muñiz Ramírez

(1922-02-04)4 February 1922
Died15 January 2009(2009-01-15) (aged 86)
Nationality Puerto Rican
Known forActor, comedian, Host, businessman

Lucas Tomás Muñiz Ramírez (4 February 1922 – 15 January 2009), better known as Tommy Muñiz, was a Puerto Rican comedy and drama actor, media producer, businessman and network owner. He is considered to be one of the pioneering figures of the television business in Puerto Rico.

Contents

Early years

Muñiz Ramírez was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico on 4 February 1922, to Don Tomás Muñíz Souffront and Monserrate "Nena" Ramírez. His father, Don Tomás, was a marketing executive who later became the administrator (and eventual owner) of various radio stations, as well as a radio producer. [1]

Although Muñíz was born in Ponce, he was raised in the capital city of San Juan where he studied. Muñíz developed an interest in the entertainment business thanks to his father and to his uncle and godfather Félix Muñíz, who also produced radio programs. [2] He started by being the messenger of the marketing firm where his father and uncle used to work, and eventually became a radio scriptwriter.

Radio and television career

Radio producer

Muñiz was a successful radio producer in Puerto Rico during the mid- to late 1940s. Five of his radio programs -comedies for which he was often the scriptwriter, sometimes with the assistance of Sylvia Rexach- would consistently earn a strong following, as judged by the attendance to personal presentations of the artists featured in them. He was responsible for introducing more than a dozen new artists to the media. He bought Radio Luz 1600 (WLUZ-AM) a radio station in Bayamón, Puerto Rico [3]

Television producer

During the first years of commercial television in Puerto Rico, and after a brief period during which revenues from his radio productions trickled down, Muñiz opted to start producing television programs as well. He was producer or executive producer for dozens of television programs and specials between 1955 and 1995. At one time in the early 1960s, five programs produced by Muñiz were in the top five television rankings in local audience surveys. One of the programs even spawned a 1967 film, "La Criada Malcriada", starring Velda González, Shorty Castro and Muñiz, among others.

He is credited for producing most of José Miguel Agrelot's television programs during his career. He is also credited with discovering and promoting other television artists as well, particularly Otilio Warrington. [1] [ dead link ] In the 1970s he was the owner of WRIK-TV Channel 7 in Ponce.

Other enterprises

At one time or another, Muñiz also owned a restaurant (La Campana) in Cayey), a pet shop in San Juan, a zoo (Monoloro) in Carolina, a thoroughbred stable, and a summer camp for children ("Camp Gualí"). He later delegated many of the administrative functions of his production company as to concentrate in scriptwriting and acting.

Actors labor dispute

Muñiz was persuaded by his executive staff to produce Spanish soap operas, known as telenovelas. The lackluster performance of these programs as measured by television ratings contrasted significantly with the enormous success of his comedy productions. As a result, decisions were made to reduce the number of novelas produced and cut the company's payroll. As a consequence, at least one local actor, Jose Reymundi, lost his job. As a result, in November 1973, Puerto Rico witnessed one of the largest labor disputes between the local Actors Union and Tommy Muñiz Productions.[ citation needed ]

In solidarity with Reymundi, seven actors left Muñiz's productions demanding fringe benefits from the company. Production on Muñiz's programs stopped for two weeks, with many unionized technicians joining the protesting actors at the picket line. The actors then formed Astra, an actors' conglomerate inspired by the origins of United Artists. Astra produced the experimental television programs Ahí va eso (There Goes That) and Sin ton ni son (No tune no beat). The conglomerate dissolved shortly after. The strike left a lasting impression in Muñiz that sent him into a depression. Some of Astra's actors eventually reconciled with Muñiz.[ citation needed ]

Los Garcia: Memorable TV Hit

In the late 1970s, Muñiz revived a comedy format that he had successfully used in three previous radio and television productions, the family sitcom. He produced and acted in a comedy series named Los García together with his real-life son Rafo Muñiz, and with longtime friend Gladys Rodríguez. Also starring were William Gracia as Pepín, Gina Beveraggi as Gini, Edgardo Rubio as Junito, Manela Bustamante as Doña Tony, Emma Rosa Vincenty as Doňa Cayetana, and a number of additional actors in various roles. The show became the most successful television show in Puerto Rican history[ citation needed ], having a mostly successful six-year run and staying for three of those years at the top of local television ratings.

Media Enterprises

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Muñiz was the owner of a radio station (Radio Luz WLUZ) and a television channel (Teleluz). Both were named after his wife, Luz María. In 1988, he became one of the largest minority owners of another channel, TeleOnce. [2] [ dead link ]

Film actor

In 1989, he and Rodríguez reunited to act in the movie Lo que le Pasó a Santiago , directed by Jacobo Morales, a longtime friend of Muñíz. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film becoming the first and only Puerto Rican film so far to do so. [1] [ dead link ]

As a consequence of his part in Lo que le Pasó a Santiago , Muñiz was selected to act in the 1991 television comedy film Crazy From The Heart, directed by Thomas Schlamme and featuring Christine Lahti and Rubén Blades. In the movie, Muñiz played Blades' father, a Mexican peasant with a proclivity for setting billboards on fire as a protest. The movie was eventually broadcast by Turner Network Television (TNT).

Personal life

Muñíz was married to Luz María García de la Noceda and they had eight children: Rafael (aka Rafo), Ruby, Hilda, Mario, Luzie, Tomito, Manolo, Pedro and Félix Antonio (Toño). Rafo and Pedro are both well-known actors and producers and Toño currently is Production Manager for various promoters in Puerto Rico. In the 80's and 90's Toño was the producer of the yearly top Salsa event in the Caribbean, "Festival de Salsa Winston" ; Pedro directed a dramatic film, Cayo. Manolo was a businessman before his untimely death in July 1995.[ citation needed ]

Tommy Muñíz died 15 January 2009 in Hato Rey, Puerto Rico. [2] Luz María García de la Noceda died a day after her 87th birthday, on 21 October 2011.[ citation needed ]

Tommy Muñiz's life is described in two books: an autobiography named "Así he vivido" ("That's the way I've lived") and "¡Juan, Juan, Juan! Crónicas de la televisión en tiempos de don Tommy" by Puerto Rican author Beba García.[ citation needed ]

Productions

Radio productions

Television productions

Honors

See also

Related Research Articles

Rafo Muñiz Puerto Rican actor and comedian

Rafael Muñiz García de la Noceda, better known as Rafo Muñiz is a Puerto Rican actor, comedian, director, and producer of television shows and concerts.

Luis Vigoreaux Rivera was a Puerto Rican radio and television show host, announcer, comedian and producer. Vigoreaux was considered a pioneer in the television business in Puerto Rico, and enjoyed success with several radio and television shows throughout his career.

José Miguel Agrelot Puerto Rican comedian, radio and television host

Giuseppe Michael Agrelot, also known as José Miguel Agrelot or Don Cholito, was a comedian, radio and television host in Puerto Rico.

José Vega Santana, known by his stage name "Remi" is a singer and clown from Puerto Rico. His career as a clown, spanning over 35 years, began with the group "Los Dulces Payasos" after developing the character of Remi while a student at the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico. He's one of the most famed clowns in Puerto Rico.

Luis Antonio Rivera a.k.a. "Yoyo Boing" is a Puerto Rican actor, comedian and television show host, who was also one of the pioneers of Puerto Rican television.

Otilio Warrington, known popularly as Bizcocho is a comedian, best known for his roles of "Bizcocho" and "Cuca Gómez".

Carmen Belén Richardson was a Puerto Rican actress and comedian.

Paquito Cordero Puerto Rican comedian and television producer

Paquito Cordero, was a pioneer of Puerto Rican television. He was also a comedian and television producer.

Tomás Domingo Muñiz Souffront was a well known Puerto Rican radio and television producer. He is sometimes respectfully called by the general public in Puerto Rico as Don Tomás Muñiz, to differentiate him from his namesake and son, Tommy Muñiz

Juan Bautista Garcia, born Jean Baptiste Romanacce, was a Corsican immigrant to Puerto Rico whose life and family became the inspiration for one of Puerto Rico's most successful television shows in history, Los Garcia.

Los García was a Puerto Rican television sitcom from the 1970s. First shown weekly on WAPA-TV, and later on TeleIsla, it depicted the life of a local fictional family, as well as that of some of their neighbors. The series' characters were based real individuals. It was the best-rated television program in Puerto Rico in three out of the six years of the program's run. It is still aired in re-runs by the local Puerto Rico community channel for DirecTV.

Gladys Rodríguez is a Puerto Rican actress, comedian, and television host.

Manuel Eduardo López Rolón a.k.a. Eddie López (1940–1971) was a Puerto Rican journalist.

Efraín López Neris is a Sephardi Puerto Rican actor, producer and cinematographer that has had a long trajectory in Puerto Rico's national artistic scene.

Israel Castro Vélez, better known as Shorty Castro was a Puerto Rican comedian, actor, comedy writer, stage director, radio host, singer, dancer, composer and musician, with a career spanning over 60 years.

Susa y Epifanio are a comedy duo, using the names of their fictional characters, in Puerto Rico.

Awilda "Wiwi" Carbia was a Puerto Rican actress, comedian, and impersonator.

Gilda Galán was a Puerto Rican actress, comedian, writer, composer, scriptwriter and poet. The veteran actress, whose career spanned decades, enjoyed one of the longest careers in the history of the Puerto Rican entertainment industry.

Alberto González (humorist)

Alberto González was a humorist and iconoclast; known for his biting political satire and popular comedy shows, he was a prolific writer, journalist, and scriptwriter during a career that spanned sixty years in show business. Alberto González was born in Guanabacoa, Cuba, in 1928.

Constantino "Tino" García Arguello was a Nicaraguan–Puerto Rican comedy actor who participated in a number of Puerto Rican and Hollywood series and films, including Thunder Island and Bananas.

References

  1. 1 2 3 Chronicle of his life in Primera Hora Archived 4 January 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  2. 1 2 3 Article about his death in Primera Hora Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  3. García, Beba, ¡Juan, Juan, Juan! Crónicas de la televisión en los tiempos de don Tommy, Terranova Editores, San Juan, 2009; pg. 28