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‘CHiPs’ TV Show Cast: See the ’70s Cop Show Stars Then and Now

Learn who has an ultra-famous son and who became a real-life cop!


From 1977 to 1983, CHiPs followed the daily beats of two cool, motorcycle-riding policemen as they patrolled the complicated and chaotic freeway system in and around L.A. The show (whose title is a nickname for California Highway Patrol) was a hit, thanks to its charismatic leads and compelling plots covering everything from stranded motorists to criminal investigations, mixed with a dash of humor and sex appeal.

The CHiPs TV show cast was a perfect study in contrasts: Officer Jon Baker (Larry Wilcox) was the more conservative and serious of the duo, while Officer Frank “Ponch” Poncherello (Erik Estrada) was freewheeling and fun. The chemistry between the two leads was strong enough that audiences were surprised to learn that there were tensions between them offscreen. As Wilcox told People in 1980, “There’s no point going around telling people Erik is my best chum, because he’s not and never will be.”

Behind-the-scenes drama aside, CHiPs remains one of our favorite cop shows. Here’s what the CHiPs TV show cast has been up to in the 40 years since the officers hung up their badges.

Motorcycle scene with the CHIPs TV show cast, 1980s
Larry Wilcox and Erik Estrada in CHiPs Rosner Television/MGM Television/NBC/MoviestillsDB

Erik Estrada as Officer Frank “Ponch” Poncherello

Erik Estrada from the CHIPS TV show cast. Left: 1978; Right: 2020
Left: 1978; Right: 2020Ralph Dominguez/MediaPunch/Getty; Paul Archuleta/Getty

Born Henry Enrique Estrada on March 16, 1949 in New York, the young Erik Estrada always wanted to be a police officer, but turned to acting after joining his high school drama club. As he told Parade, “I was going to be a New York cop before I became an actor. I couldn’t take the test until I was 18, and at 17 I got bit by the acting bug. I gave myself until I was 30. If I had some success, fine. If I didn’t, I’d come back and fulfill my dream and my mother’s dream.”

Estrada’s journey from Spanish Harlem to the Hollywood Hills began with his screen debut as a gang member in the faith-based 1970 film The Cross and the Switchblade. He then had a more substantial role in Airport 1975, where he played a womanizing flight engineer. Prior to CHiPs, Estrada also appeared in episodes of Kojak, Mannix, The Six Million Dollar Man, Police Woman and other popular shows of the day.

It was joining the CHiPs TV show cast that made Estrada famous, and his casting proved highly significant, as there were few shows led by Latino actors at the time.

Erik Estrada As Officer "Ponch" in CHIPs, 1981
Erik Estrada As Officer “Ponch” in CHIPs (1981)Hulton Archive/Getty

Estrada worked steadily after CHiPs ended, primarily appearing in low-budget action films. From 1993 to 1994, he starred in the telenovela Two Women, One Road. In 2001 he a landed a five-episode arc on The Bold and the Beautiful, and throughout the ’90s and ’00s he made various guest appearances as himself in movies and shows like National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon, National Lampoon’s Van Wilder, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Popular, Diagnosis Murder, The Nanny, L.A. Law, The King of Queens, Scrubs and more. Additionally, he appeared in a number of reality shows.

Erik Estrada poses with a police car, 2019
Erik Estrada poses with a police car in 2019Gabe Ginsberg/Getty

Now 74, Estrada still acts (he most recently appeared in an episode of the show Call Me Kat), but he’s also gotten to live out his childhood dream of becoming a real-life cop. In 2008, he worked as a reserve police officer in Muncie, Indiana, and he became deputy sheriff in Bedford County, Virginia in 2009. In 2016, he joined the police reserve in St. Anthony, Idaho. Currently, he works in law enforcement in Virginia, with a specific focus on internet safety and digital crimes against children.

Larry Wilcox as Officer Jon Baker

Larry Wilcox from the CHIPs TV show cast. Left: '70s; Right: 2019
Left: ’70s; Right: 2019Art Zelin/Getty; Paul Archuleta/Getty

Prior to becoming an actor, Larry Wilcox served in the Marines during the Vietnam War. In the early ’70s, he began appearing in TV movies and shows, and got noticed for his role in the classic series Lassie from 1971 to 1973. Wilcox then appeared in episodes of The Partridge Family, Police Story, Hawaii Five-O and M*A*S*H.

Surprisingly, Wilcox was originally skeptical about starring in CHiPs, admitting that he initially rejected it. As he said in an interview, “When CHiPs came around, I said no. My rationale was that there were too many police shows then, notwithstanding the fact that I had come to believe I was now an artiste and needed to mold my career accordingly. So they offered me more money and I jumped. Therein lies the moral to the young actor’s ego.”

Larry Wilcox, as Officer Jon Baker in ChiPs TV show, 1978
Larry Wilcox as Officer Jon Baker in ChiPs (1978)Bettmann/Getty

After CHiPs ended, Wilcox formed his own production company, Wilcox Productions, which produced the TV movie Death of a Centerfold: The Dorthy Stratten Story and the series The Ray Bradbury Theater. He also kept acting, with appearances in a TV movie sequel to The Dirty Dozen, Matlock, MacGyver, Murder, She Wrote and 30 Rock.

Now 76, Wilcox hasn’t been onscreen as much in recent years, saying, “I enjoyed ‘deals’ more than I enjoyed acting,” and spending his time racing cars and driving motorcyles.

Robert Pine as Sergeant Joseph Getraer

Robert Pine Left: 1983; Right: 2010
Left: 1983; Right: 2010Ralph Dominguez/MediaPunch/Getty; David Livingston/Getty

Robert Pine played Sergeant Joseph Getraer, the gruff supervisor to the show’s two protagonists. Born Granville Whitelaw Pine, the actor began working in the ’60s, and appeared in a variety of Westerns while under contract with Universal Studios.

Throughout the ’60s and ’70s, Pine worked consistently, and while he may not have been a household name, he could be seen in episodes of Lost in Space, The Lucy Show, The Virginian, The Wild Wild West, Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Charlie’s Angels and more. After CHiPs, he showed up in Family Ties, Knight Rider, Dallas, and Dynasty, to name just a few. He also made a name for himself in daytime soap operas, with roles in Days of Our Lives, All My Children, The Bold and the Beautiful and The Young and the Restless. Over more than 50 years, he’s appeared in over 400 TV episodes!

Robert Pine as Sergeant Joseph Getraer in CHiPs TV show, 1978
Robert Pine as Sergeant Joseph Getraer in CHiPs (1978)Rosner Television/MGM Television/NBC/MoviestillsDB

While primarily known as a hardworking TV actor, Pine has also had roles in movies like Red Eye, Lakeview Terrace, Frozen and Jobs. Today, Pine, now 82, is known for being the dad of Hollywood heartthrob Chris Pine, the star of blockbusters like Star Trek and Wonder Woman. There’s major admiration between father and son. The younger Pine has said, “My dad’s had a hell of a career,” while Robert Pine has said that when it comes to his son, “I couldn’t be prouder. He’s an incredibly hard worker.” Now that’s one talented family!

Paul Linke as Officer Artie Grossman

Paul Linke Left: 1980, Right: 2014
Left: 1980, Right: 2014Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Camp Hill/MoviestillsDB; Albert L. Ortega/Getty

Paul Linke played a supporting role as Officer Artie Grossman. Linke grew up around showbiz, as his father, Richard O. Linke, was Andy Griffith’s personal manager. Surprisingly given this background, he didn’t originally want to be an actor, but he changed his mind in college, when he started taking acting classes.

In 1970, Linke had his first role, in the movie The Baby Maker. His next movie credits included Big Bad Mama, The Strongest Man in the World and Moving Violation. He also appeared in shows like Police Woman, The Waltons, Laverne & Shirley, Happy Days and M*A*S*H. While in the CHiPs TV show cast, Linke acted in the cult horror-comedy film Motel Hell.

Once CHiPs ended, Linke could be seen in episodes of Knots Landing, St. Elsewhere, Hooperman, 21 Jump Street, Quantum Leap and Judging Amy. His post-CHiPs movie credits include Parenthood and K-PAX, and TV movies like Smart House and An American Girl Story – Maryellen 1955: Extraordinary Christmas. In 2000 Linke co-wrote and directed the play Save it for the Stage: The Life of Reilly with his friend, the trailblazing gay actor and TV personality, Charles Nelson Reilly. Linke also had a one-man show, It’s Time, in 2016. Now 75, Linke’s last acting credit was in 2018.

Catch up with more 70s TV stars below!

‘The Jeffersons’ Cast: A Look Back at the Hilarious Sitcom and the Stars Who Brought It to Life

Original ‘Hawaii Five-O’ Cast: Secrets About the Detectives in Paradise

‘One Day at a Time’ 1975 Cast: Where Are They Now?

Actor Hal Linden Shares 10 ‘Barney Miller’ Behind-the-Scenes Secrets

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