Julio Oscar Mechoso, Busy Character Actor, Dies at 62

Julio Oscar Mechoso - 2014 The National Association of Latino Independent Producers Gala Awards - Getty - H 2017
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The Cuba native collaborated often with Robert Rodriguez and Andy Garcia, a friend from college who called him "a unique and extraordinary artist."

Julio Oscar Mechoso, a character actor who frequently portrayed tough guys, appeared on such TV series as Seinfeld and Coach and collaborated often with close friend Andy Garcia and Robert Rodriguez, has died. He was 62.

Mechoso died Saturday of a heart attack, the Miami Herald reported. He died in Los Angeles.

In a statement, Garcia called Mechoso a friend and soulmate. "Julio is a unique and extraordinary artist," he said. "I say 'is,' because his artistry will carry on and will be present in all that will witness it. That will never die."

Mechoso and Garcia worked together in films including Internal Affairs (1990), The Lost City (2005), Magic City Memoirs (2011) and A Dark Truth (2012) and in the 1988 and 2000 telefilms Clinton and Nadine and For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story, respectively.

He teamed with Rodriguez on movies including Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003), Planet Terror (2007), Grindhouse (2007) and Machete Kills (2013) and on the El Rey TV series Matador.

The busy Mechoso also appeared on the big screen in The Glass Shield (1994), Bad Boys (1995), Blue Streak (1999), Tortilla Soup (2001), Assassination Tango (2002), Phone Booth (2002), Little Miss Sunshine (2006), The Forger (2014) and Rules Don't Apply (2016).

Born in Cuba and raised in Miami, Mechoso attended Coral Gables High School, Miami Dade Community College and Florida International University, where he met Garcia. He made his onscreen debut in 1979 on the PBS series ¿Qué pasa, U.S.A.? and appeared with Garcia in the 1983 film Guaguasi.

Mechoso had regular roles on television as Joaquin Tiant on The WB's Greetings From Tucson, as Martin on ABC's Coach, as Officer Richie Fernandez on ABC's High Incident and as Ramon on CBS' Cane.

He also appeared on the 1995 Seinfeld episode "The Kiss Hello" and showed up on such shows as Murphy Brown, Matlock, NYPD Blue, Miami Vice and Life in Pieces.

Garcia's tribute to Mechoso is below:

How can one express the extreme loss of someone so close to you, the extreme emptiness that one feels now and forever. A sudden loss is always unjust, but in the case of Julio Oscar Mechoso, my friend, my soulmate, it is greater than that, as I have lost the truest of friends. Julio is a unique and extraordinary artist. I say "is," because his artistry will carry on and will be present in all that will witness it. That will never die. 

He shared with us his deepest, most personal soul, always readily available for us to see. His emotional range as an actor is unequaled. His dedication to research and psychology was something to witness and admire. We were always there for each other, whether to help with a part, develop a script or discuss the sublime nature of the work. 

I always wanted Julio with me in any work that I was doing, because Julio always elevated the film. Working with him was for me an effortless privilege. We got off on each other, we laughed, we cried together. He was an actor's actor. We all knew what he was capable of delivering, and it was always quite extraordinary.

His charisma was uncanny. Ever since we met in college, he captivated me with his work, whether in his imitation of George C. Scott as Patton or his soulful rendition of Randall in Slow Dance on a Killing Ground. The character of Randall had a hole in his heart; Julio showed it to us. It was an unforgettable moment. How did he do it? We marveled at his depth. Now I too have a hole in my heart, a hole that will never be filled. Only in his memory and his constant inspiration will the edges of the hole harden and not bleed. 

Julio cherished the work of an actor. He treated it with great respect. He honored it. He was fearless and experimental. Always living and searching for the absolute truth. He was proud to be an actor. But he was most proud of his family. The love of his life, Linda … what a beautiful relationship they shared. And the pride and love he had for his three children, Melinda, J.J. and C.J., was a marvel.

As Julio would often say to me, I would take a bullet for them. He would also say that to me. "Bicho" he would call me. "Bicho, I would take a bullet for you." This I never doubted. It was a loving but serious declaration. Perhaps there was a stray bullet in the air that tragic night you left us, and you took it for all of us.

I will cherish all the precious and sublime times we shared acting and perhaps even more, singing together our beloved Rumba's.

We learned together our craft. I am proud to say that together we elevated it to an art form. We shared family, friends, Dolphins, food, drink and music, always with our families by our side. 

I will miss you, my brother. You left us an incredible and inspirational body of work. 

I will carry on, as you would like me to. As it is our duty. With you always by my side. Cherishing the work and honoring your spirit in my work. That is my promise to you.