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March 14, 1976|
New York City, New York, U.S.
November 9, 2002 (aged 26)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Homicide|
|Resting place||Saint Raymond's Cemetery|
|Years active||1991 – 2002|
Merlin Santana (March 14, 1976 – November 9, 2002) was an American actor. Santana was best known for his roles as Rudy Huxtable's boyfriend Stanley on The Cosby Show, Marcus Dixon on Getting By, Marcus Henry in Under One Roof and as high school student Romeo Santana on The WB sitcom The Steve Harvey Show.
Born in New York City to parents from the Dominican Republic, Santana's career in show business began with a push from his parents, who wanted to keep him off the tough streets of New York. He began his career at the age of three as an advertising model for a fast food chain. His first screen appearance was as an extra in the Woody Allen film, The Purple Rose of Cairo.
In 1991, Santana landed a recurring role on The Cosby Show as Stanley, the boyfriend of Rudy Huxtable and the rival of Rudy's friend Kenny (Deon Richmond). He was then cast as Marcus Dixon in the short-lived sitcom, Getting By, starring Cindy Williams and Telma Hopkins. Deon Richmond was cast as his brother Darren, due to their interaction on The Cosby Show.
In 1995, Santana was cast as Marcus Henry in the short-lived CBS family drama Under One Roof, co-starring with James Earl Jones, Joe Morton and Vanessa Bell Calloway. Between 1996 and 1999, he played the role of Ohagi on Moesha.
In 1996, he landed the role of Romeo Santana on The Steve Harvey Show. In 2001, he played the role of Jermaine in the movie Flossin. In 2002, he appeared in the VH1 TV movie, Play'd: A Hip Hop Story with Toni Braxton. That same year, Santana had a role in the Eddie Murphy comedy Showtime. His last television acting role was on the UPN series, Half & Half; his last film role was a 2003 comedy film, The Blues with Deon Richmond.
On November 9, 2002, Santana was shot in the head and killed as he and his best friend, former child actor Brandon Quintin Adams were in a car leaving another man's home in the Crenshaw District of Los Angeles. Damien Andre Gates fired the shot that entered through the trunk of the vehicle in which Santana was a passenger. The bullet penetrated the right-front passenger headrest and entered Santana's head, killing him instantly. Damien was convicted of the first-degree murder of Santana and the attempted murder of Adams and was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences plus 70 years in prison. Brandon Douglas Bynes received a 23-year sentence after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon, even though none of the shots fired from his revolver entered the vehicle. An officer involved in the case testified that Monique King, reportedly Gates's girlfriend and aged 15 at the time of Santana's death, falsely claimed that Santana made sexual advances towards her, which prompted Gates' and Bynes' attack. King was found guilty of second-degree murder and attempted murder but acquitted on two murder charges, receiving ten years in juvenile custody. Santana was 26 years old at the time of his death. He was buried on November 18, 2002, at Saint Raymond's Cemetery in The Bronx, New York.
|1991||Major Dad||Marvin||2 episodes|
|1991||Law & Order||Roneld Griggs||Episode: "Mushrooms"|
|1991||The Cabinet of Dr. Ramirez||Newsboy|
|1991–1992||The Cosby Show||Stanley||7 episodes|
|1992||In the Line of Duty: Street War||Mikie||Television movie|
|1993–1994||Getting By||Marcus Dixon||31 episodes|
|1994||Sister, Sister||Joey||Episode: "Joey's Choice"|
|1995||Under One Roof||Marcus Henry||6 episodes|
|1995||Street Gear||Derick Davis||13 episodes|
|1995–1996||Hangin' with Mr. Cooper||Calvin||2 episodes|
|1996–2002||The Steve Harvey Show||Romeo Santana||122 episodes|
|1997||NYPD Blue||Warren||Episode: "A Draining Experience"|
|2002||JAG||Seaman Aubrey McBride||Episode: "Port Chicago"|
|2002||Play'd: A Hip Hop Story||Mayhem||Television movie|
|2002||Half & Half||Dante Aldente||Episode: "The Big Pimpin' Episode"|
|2003||The Blues||Goya||Direct-to-video release|
- Josephs, Tasheka (2006-11-09). "Remembering Merlin Santana On His 4-Year Death Anniversary". vibe.com. Archived from the original on 2009-08-25. Retrieved 2009-09-15.
- Blankstein, Andrew (March 17, 2004). "Teenage Girl Convicted for Role in Actor's Killing". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
- "Three Sentenced in Shooting Death of TV Actor Merlin Santana". Jet. Johnson Publishing Company. 105 (19): 18. 2004-05-10. ISSN 0021-5996.