Happy Birthday Erik Estrada: Remembering the ‘CHiPS’ Star’s Best Moments

by Chris Haney
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Today, ’70s and ’80s Hollywood star Erik Estrada celebrated his 72nd birthday. The former CHiPS actor was one of the biggest stars in America for a couple of decades.

To give you an idea of just how big of a deal Estrada was at the time, he was voted one of “The 10 Sexiest Bachelors in the World” by People magazine in 1979. The New York City-born actor was a hot commodity on-screen and off.

The actor of Puerto Rican heritage continued his work as an actor and voice actor after CHiPS. Estrada starred in Spanish-language telenovelas. He voiced cartoon characters on Adult Swim. The actor also made appearances on reality television like The Surreal Life. In addition, he took his on-screen role as a motorcycle cop on CHiPS and turned it into a real life career as a reserve police officer.

Let’s take a minute to celebrate the Frank “Ponch” Poncharello actor’s March 16 birthday by revisiting some of his best moments on his hit television show CHiPS.

Erik Estrada’s Personal Favorite Episode of ‘CHiPS’

Erik Estrada said there were many episodes he enjoyed making during his time on CHiPS. Yet the actor did pinpoint one particular episode as his personal favorite.

Surprisingly, the actor chose the pilot episode of the show, but not for the reasons one may assume. He didn’t choose the show’s first episode because of nostalgia or because it was the beginning of many successful seasons. In fact, Estrada chose the pilot episode because of a specific scene in the first episode.

When a guy on a motorcycle speeds by “Ponch” and his partner Jon Baker, they chase after him. The reckless motorcyclist causes a Volkswagen Beetle to roll over on the highway and its driver to become stuck upside down. Even though “Ponch” can’t get the woman out of the car, he keeps her company until rescue workers arrive.

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“A Volkswagen turned over and I had to talk to her to make her calm. It kind of gave me an insight to people. That particular scene, you have to take your time with the scene,” Erik Estrada explained about his favorite episode.

‘Ponch’ Sings ‘Celebration’ On the Show

In Episode #516 titled “Battle of the Bands,” Erik Estrada’s character “Ponch” puts on quite the performance. While competing in the music competition, “Ponch” busted out a rendition of Kool & The Gang’s “Celebration.”

Officer Poncharello went from arresting a punk while at work to taking the stage that night in a full red and silver sequin shirt. He sings the full four-minute-long hit song and wows the crowd.

However, he loses the Battle of the Bands to a female performer named Snow Pink. It’s okay though, everyone knows “Ponch” is the true winner.

‘CHiPS’ Episode Inspired By Rock Band KISS

One of the most memorable moments in CHiPS history involved another music-based episode. But this time Estrada took a backseat to another famous television star’s performance.

During Episode #604 titled “Rock Devil Rock,” Bobby and “Ponch” help a rock star who claims that his life is in danger. The episode featured a satanic rock star who was an obvious copycat of KISS frontman Gene Simmons.

Although you couldn’t tell under all the makeup, Happy Days fans know the actor who played the rock star Moloch well. It was Don Most who played Ralph Malph on Happy Days.

It turns out, Moloch isn’t lying about someone trying to kill him. During a music video session, Ponch performs a daring rescue. A bomb is hidden in Moloch’s microphone, but “Ponch” saves the day just in time. Following the rescue, the police department throw a crazy Halloween party to celebrate.

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