Sitcom Actor Shot to Death in Parked Car

Times Staff Writer

A 26-year-old actor who was best known for playing the role of Romeo on “The Steve Harvey Show” was shot to death Saturday morning as he sat in a parked car in South Los Angeles.

Merlin Santana, who lived in North Hollywood, was in the passenger seat of a car being driven by a friend in the 3800 block of Victoria Avenue, investigators said.

Police offered few details and said they did not know the motive. They said the driver was not injured and that he drove about a half-mile to Crenshaw and Exposition boulevards, where he flagged down two officers.


Paramedics were called, and they found Santana dead. The driver’s name was not released.

Santana was nominated twice for NAACP Image Awards as a supporting actor on “The Steve Harvey Show,” a sitcom that ran for six years and is now in syndication. In his role as Romeo, he was a high school student and a smooth-talking ladies’ man.

Santana was born in New York City to immigrants from the Dominican Republic. His first movie appearance was as an extra in Woody Allen’s “The Purple Rose of Cairo.”

He starred in the sitcom “Getting By” and the program “Under One Roof.” He appeared in many other series, including “The Cosby Show,” “Moesha,” “Law & Order,” “NYPD Blue” and “Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper.” He also appeared in the movie “Showtime,” with Robert De Niro and Eddie Murphy.