The show “CHiP’s” Cast, Pictures, and Trivia!
This is a series based mainly on the lives of two officers who are Highway Patrolmen of the Central Los Angeles office of the California Highway Patrol, also known as the CHP.
The two officers are Frank Poncherello (Erik Estrada) and Jon Baker (Larry Wilcox), best friends, but total opposites. Frank or “Ponch” (as he is most often referred as) is the one who is known for getting into trouble, while Jon is much more strait-laced. They, as well as several other characters, make up the bulk of the show.
Officer Frank Poncherello (Erik Estrada)-“Ponch” is a handsome, Latino, broad-grinned officer, who in the beginning, is on probation and is placed with Officer Jon Baker, who is to serve as his field training officer. (This is the main reason for the two riding together as CHP officers do not usually ride in pairs.) The two become fast friends and spend most of their time together, whether at work or off. Ponch is constantly trying to impress the ladies, usually with his athletic ability or his skill at disco dancing.
Officer Jonathan Baker (Larry Wilcox)-Jon is a blond, handsome, grinning officer, with that boy next door kind of look. Though he is at first serving as Ponch’s field training officer, in the end the two end up as virtual equals. Jon is more of a level-headed, by-the-book kind of guy, who always seems to be around to help get his slightly troublesome partner out of predicaments when necessary. A veteran of the Vietnam War, kind and funny, Jon is always ready with a smile.
Sergeant Joseph Getraer (Robert Pine)-Sgt. Getraer is the commanding officer of the precinct. A happily married, sometimes brusque but also kind, caring and rather fatherly man as well. He is always looking out for what is best for his men and does all that he can to achieve this. And at times, he even manages to do it with a slight grin and a chuckle.
Officer Arthur Grossman (Paul Linke)-“Grossie” or “Artie”, as he is called by almost everyone, is a kind, funny and mild-mannered man, who basically gets along with everyone. Even Ponch, who has been known to pick on him every now and then. All in all, a good guy who does his job well.
Officer Barry Baricza (Brodie Greer)-Brodie or “Bear” is a tall, kind officer with gentle eyes and all his wits about him. He is known for doing his job well and is always one to be counted on when any of his fellow officers need back up.
Officer Bonnie Clark (Randi Oakes)-Bonnie is one of the few female officers in the precinct but she also manages to fit in well with all the men. Blonde, wholesome, pretty and feminine, Bonnie has all the attributes one would expect in a female but with the added bonus of having the features of a good officer as well.
Harlan Arliss (Lou Wagner)-Harlan is the dependable and down-to-earth mechanic who is always there to repair the CHP’s all important motorcycles and automobiles, without which they would not be able to do their jobs.
This series was fun to watch without being too serious. Its main draw were the actors playing the parts, which provided ample entertainment and brought the stories to life. I give this show 6 out of 10.
Frank Poncherello-Erik Estrada
Jonathan Baker-Larry Wilcox
Joesph Getraer-Robert Pine
Arthur Grossman-Paul Linke
Barry Baricza-Brodie Greer
Bonnie Clarke-Randi Oakes
Harlan Arliss-Lou Wagner
Jebediah Turner-Michael Dorn
Gene Fritz-Lew Saunders
Bobby Nelson-Tom Reilly
Kathy Linahan-Tina Gayle
Sindy Cahill-Brianne Leary
Benjamin Webster-Clarence Gilyard, Jr.
Bruce Nelson-Bruce Penhall
Betty Getraer-Gwynne Gilford
Steve McLeish-Bruce Jenner
Julie Borris-Ellen Geer
Robbie Davis-Katherine Cannon
Madlyn Rhue as herself
Nascar Official-William Long, Jr.
Becky Lou-Tammy Lauren
Charley Davis-Tige Andrews
Woman in Phonebooth-Kaye Stevens
Bob Patterson-John Ericson
Sal Panello-Willam Bronder
Frank Taylor-Don ‘Red’ Barry
Judge Linda-Kay Peters
Chuck Harris-Bruce Glover
Mrs. Downey-Marjorie Bennett
Continental Driver-David Clover
Peter Marshall as himself
Susan Richardson as herself
First Girl-K.C. Winkler
Store Manager-Jack Collins
Linda McCullough as herself
Biker-Gary Lee Davis
Michael Adams-William Smith
Roger-Royce D. Applegate
Rick Rosner, the man who created “CHiPs”, apparently got the idea for the show while he was on a coffee break during a patrol shift, as he was a reserve deputy with the Los Angeles County Sherriff’s Department. He said he saw two CHP officers on motorcycles and that gave him the idea. He also created the shows, “Emergency!” and “240-Robert” as well.
Larry Wilcox (Jon Baker) grew up on his grandfather’s ranch in Rawlins, Wyoming, after his mother and father divorced, as his mother found it difficult raising four children on her own.
Filming of the series was generally done in the San Fernando Valley of California. Any freeway crashes were shot on highways that had only been recently constructed and were not yet open to the public. For a few shots of racing scenes, the Riverside International Raceway in Riverside, California was also used.
Erik Estrada (Frank Poncherello) is of Puerto Rican descent, but does not speak Spanish.
Although there were, of course, stunt shots and doubles used for some of the scenes filmed, Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox actually performed many smaller stunts themselves in addition to doing quite a bit of their own motorcycle riding. During the run of the series, Wilcox received hardly any injuries, but Estrada, on the other hand, was not so lucky. He was injured multiple times over the years, with some things as small as cuts and bruises to an accident he was involved in during the filming of an episode for the third season. This accident was so severe that Estrada broke both of his wrists and fractured several ribs, which was then written into the actual storyline of the show. He literally filmed some scenes for the show from his hospital bed. It was disclosed nearly 30 years later, that Estrada did not even have a motorcycle license while the series was in production. He had gone through a very intensive training course for eight weeks to learn how to ride and later qualified for one, but it took him three tries to do so.
Larry Wilcox did many of his own stunts on the show, as he is an accomplished motorcycle rider, race car driver, private pilot, professional rodeo cowboy and Bonneville Salt Flat Land Speed Record holder.
During the entire run of the show, neither Larry Wilcox nor Erik Estrada ever drew their guns. There was only one officer to do this and that was Officer Baricza (Brodie Greer). He did this a total of three times.
Robert Pine (Joe Getraer) almost went into pre-med before deciding to become an actor.
Larry Wilcox and Erik Estrada did have occasional differences of opinion behind the scenes and were not the best of friends. Although in recent years, they now seem to be closer and actually keep in touch with one another.
Randi Oakes (Bonnie Clark) has been married to actor Gregory Harrison for nearly 34 years and they have four children together.
Later in the series, there were several cast changes. Due to a dispute over syndication profits, Estrada went on strike in the fifth season and did not appear in seven episodes. During this brief time period, he was replaced with actor, Bruce Jenner. Larry Wilcox was not seen at all in the last season, due to his disagreement with the producers about what he considered to be their ongoing favoritism toward Estrada. Therefore, Wilcox’s replacement was actor Tom Reilly as Officer Bobby Nelson. At times, the 1981 and 1982 Speedway World Champion, Bruce Penhall, also took over for Wilcox as Officer Bruce Nelson, Bobby’s younger brother. By the end of the season, however, Reilly was rarely seen, as Estrada was not happy about Reilly’s work ethic, not to mention his arrest during a traffic stop for possession of controlled substances by the LAPD.
Paul Linke (Arthur Grossman) has been married twice. Sadly, his first wife, Francesca Cagiati Draper, died in 1986 due to cancer. Overwrought with grief, Linke directed his grief towards writing and performing a one man play called, “Time Flies When You’re Alive”. It received excellent reviews and critical acclaim. The two also had three children together.
In 1979, Erik Estrada was featured on the cover of People Magazine as one of “The 10 Sexiest Bachelors in the World”.
Robert Pine’s real-life wife, Gwynne Gilford, also played his wife, Betty Getraer on the series. They are still married today.
Brodie Greer (Barry Baricza) no longer acts but is now a real estate agent for Coldwell Banker in Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, California.
Larry Wilcox began his own production company after leaving CHiPs called, “Wilcox Productions”, which is still in business today. He is also an honorary member of the real California Highway Patrol.
During the show’s popularity, a series of action figures were released by Mego, a company who made mostly action figures. However, due to the materials used for the construction of the figures, a large number of them have actually started decomposing or discoloring, even turning green in some cases. In addition, Imperial Toys also put out a series of six die cast model vehicles from the series.
Lou Wagner (Harlan Arliss) still does occasional guest spots on various television shows today.
In October of 1998, the made-for-television movie, “Chips ’99” came out. There were various members of the original cast in the movie, which included Larry Wilcox, Erik Estrada and Robert Pine. Just two months ago, in September of 2014, Warner Bros. announced a film adaptation of the show, which would star actor Dax Shepard as Officer Jon Baker and Michael Pena as Officer Frank Poncherello.
Erik Estrada speaks for the “C.H.P. 11-99 Foundation”, which is a non-profit organization that provides benefits as well as scholarships to family members of the California Highway Patrol, in addition to also providing funeral expenses for fallen officers.
Randi Oakes won the “Miss Iowa Model of the Year” contest when she was 17. She moved to New York immediately afterward with a modeling contract.
The character of Jon Baker was, remarkably, one of the very first characters on a television series to be identified as a veteran of the Vietnam War, not to mention the fact that it was in a positive light. Also, Larry Wilcox served in the Vietnam War for over a year as a Marine, during the Tet Offensive as an
Erik Estrada actually went through training at the CHP Academy, in order to see what being an officer in the CHP was really like.
Paul Linke was good friends with actor, John Ritter and spoke at his memorial service.
Robert Pine’s son, actor Chris Pine, took over the role of Captain Kirk on “Star Trek” for William Shatner. Later, Robert Pine and William Shatner then did commercials for “Priceline.com” together.
Randi Oakes was in a relationship with famed football player Joe Namath, for seven years.
Larry Wilcox’s only sister, Sharon, was murdered at the age of only 23 by her husband, in front of her three children as well as her own mother. Unbelievably, her husband was acquitted but was later killed himself.
Erik Estrada came in at #1 on TV Guide’s list of “25 Sexiest Men in Uniform”.
Two real-life CHP officers were injured in October of 1981 while on duty. The CHiPs cast went and donated blood for the two officers. One officer survived, but unfortunately, the other died.
Robert Pine who played Sgt. Getraer, was the only member of the entire cast, who appeared in every single episode of the series.
Larry Wilcox was sentenced to three years of probation in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida in January of 2011, for conspiring to commit securities fraud. He plead guilty and made this statement before the court, “I betrayed my core values with what I did. I am deeply sorry.”
Erik Estrada has been married three times and has three children.
Paul Linke directed and co-wrote the play, “Save it for the Stage: The Life of Reilly” with actor Charles Nelson Reilly in 2000. It was later made into a film called, “The Life of Reilly”.
Randi Oakes decided to retire from acting after she gave birth to her first child in 1985.
Erik Estrada wrote his autobiography in 1997, entitled “Erik Estrada: My Road from Harlem to Hollywood.”
Larry Wilcox has set up an NPO Hub website that helps benefit police officers who have been killed in the line of duty.