In this undated image, comedian-actress Lucille Ball and her husband, musician-actor Desi Arnaz from the comedy series, "I Love Lucy," are shown. Ball, who died on April 26, 1989, would have celebrated her 100th birthday on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2011. (AP Photo/file) ORG XMIT: NYET584
Too often television represents Latinos as sadistic gang members or saucy sexpots, but occasionally there’s a breakthrough.
“I Love Lucy” (1951-57)
Desi Arnaz practically invented the exasperated TV husband, not to mention the structure of the modern-day sitcom.
Officer Frank Poncherello
Erik Estrada’s sparkling-white teeth probably did more for toothpaste than Colgate.
“Chico and the Man” (1974-77)
What would Freddie Prinze have accomplished if he hadn’t died so young? One of TV’s great mysteries.
Lt. Martin Castillo
“Miami Vice” (1984-90)
The series was struggling in both ratings and tone until Edward James Olmos marched in and whipped everyone into shape.
“My So-Called Life” (1994-95)
The show was quickly canceled, but Wilson Cruz’s portrayal of an abused gay teenager will last forever.
Det. Bobby Simone
“NYPD Blue” (1994-2004)
Few play tough but sensitive guys better than Jimmy Smits. Who can forget Simone’s stoic deathbed scene?
Dora the Explorer
“Dora the Explorer” (2000- )
Currently voiced by Caitlin Sanchez, Dora is a welcome heroine to young Latinos and may have taught a few Anglos some Spanish as well.
“Desperate Housewives” (2004-12)
Far less well-known than her co-stars, Eva Longoria quickly became a fan favorite with her take on suburban princesses.
“Ugly Betty” (2006-10)
How fitting that an actress named America Ferrera would be such an outstanding representative for both Latinas and underdogs.
“Modern Family” (2009- )
She’s smarter — and richer — than she looks. Sofia Vergara is now the highest-paid actress on TV.