Esai Manuel Morales (born October 1, 1962) is an American actor perhaps best known for his role as Bob Morales in the 1987 biopic La Bamba. He also appeared in the PBS drama American Family and in the Showtime series Resurrection Blvd. Most recently, he played Major Edward Beck in the CBS drama Jericho and is spokesperson for Allstate insurance.
Morales appeared on television in the mid-1980s, on Fame. He co-starred with Burt Lancaster in the NBC-TV miniseries, "On Wings of Eagles," playing the Iranian Rashid, the hero of this true story about Ross Perot. Morales has also appeared in Miami Vice, The Equalizer, and 24.
In the 1990s, he guest-starred on episodes of The Outer Limits, Tales from the Crypt, and two shorter-lived series, L.A. Doctors and The Hunger. He was a featured TV actor, seen in a two-part episode of Family Law (tv series) in 2000. His tenure on NYPD Blue as the head of the 15th precinct detective squad began in mid-season 2001 and continued until 2004 when he decided to cancel his contract (due mainly to the lack of screen time squad leaders received).
In 1994 he was in the highly satirical Pauly Shore film In The Army Now. Paid in Full was scheduled for release in October 2002. It marked a return to a criminal character such as those in his previous roles - in this case he played a drug dealer named Lulu.
In 2005, he contributed his voice acting to the video game True Crime: New York City, playing Sgt. Victor Navarro. He was also cast in the film American Fusion, and on June 19, 2006, he joined the cast of Fox's series Vanished, as FBI agent Michael Tyner alongside actors Gale Harold and Ming-Na. The series was later canceled. In 2007, he completed filming for Kill Kill Faster Faster, which is a contemporary film noir inspired by the critically acclaimed novel of the same name by Joel Rose.
In the February 28, 2007 all-star benefit reading of "The Gift of Peace" at UCLA's Freud Playhouse, he portrays a hopeful member of a struggling immigrant family, and plays alongside actors Ed Asner, Barbara Bain, Amy Brenneman, George Coe, Wendie Malick, and James Pickens, Jr.. The play is an open appeal and fundraiser for passage of U.S. House Resolution 808, which seeks to establish a Cabinet-level "Department of Peace" in the U.S. government, to be funded by a two percent diversion of the Pentagon's annual budget.
Esai is also a vegetarian.
In July 2007, Morales was sued by a former live-in girlfriend who alleged the former "NYPD Blue" star assaulted her and gave her herpes. The Superior Court lawsuit filed on July 19, 2007 by Elizabeth Mazzocchi alleged "intentional and negligent transmission of a sexually transmitted disease, assault, battery and breach of oral contract." Morales has denied the allegations. In March 2008, the L.A. district attorney declined to bring criminal charges against Morales due to insufficient evidence.