Adan Canto, ‘The Cleaning Lady’ and ‘Designated Survivor’ actor, dies at 42

A bearded man poses while resting his hands on the back of a wooden chair, dressed in an off-white long-sleeved shirt
Adan Canto most recently starred in the Fox crime drama “The Cleaning Lady.”
(Fox / Fox Image Collection via Getty Images)

Adan Canto, an actor known for his roles in “The Cleaning Lady,” “Designated Survivor” and “Narcos,” has died.

The actor and singer died Monday from appendix cancer, Canto’s family told The Times in a statement Tuesday. He was 42.

“Adan had a depth of spirit that few truly knew,” the statement said. “Those who glimpsed it were changed forever.”


Canto had most recently been a star on the Fox crime drama series “The Cleaning Lady,” which is shooting its third season. He played Arman Morales, a man associated with a powerful crime family in Las Vegas who agrees to protect the show’s protagonist, an undocumented immigrant from the Philippines in search of a cure for her young son’s rare disease.

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“We are heartbroken to learn of the passing of Adan Canto,” Warner Bros. Television and Fox Entertainment said in a statement Tuesday. “A wonderful actor and dear friend, we were honored to have him as part of the Warner Bros. Television and Fox Entertainment families since his U.S. debut in ‘The Following’ more than a decade ago. Most recently, he lit up the screen in ‘The Cleaning Lady’ with a powerful performance that showcased his artistry, range, depth and vulnerability.

“This is an unfathomable loss, and we grieve alongside his wife, Stephanie, their children and loved ones. We will miss Adan dearly.”

Canto also found fame with his part in the Fox thriller “Designated Survivor,” starring alongside Kiefer Sutherland. He played Aaron Shore, a politician and member of a fictional White House Cabinet in a new administration reeling from an explosion at the Capitol.

Canto was born in Coahuila, Mexico, and his first brush with the film industry came at age 7, when the production of popular Mexican romance film “Like Water for Chocolate” shot in his hometown of Acuña, according to an Anthem Magazine interview. Canto was an extra in one of the movie’s memorable scenes, in which wedding guests, overcome with sadness, vomit into a river after eating a wedding cake made with the film protagonist‘s tears.

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“I remember it vividly, just the experience of being on set and the creation of a world,” Canto told the magazine in 2022. “The wardrobe, the set design — it was a beautiful thing. But I just never thought I would get to be a part of that world. I never thought it was something that you can aim for or achieve coming from such a small town, right?”


While moving between his hometown and Del Rio, Texas, for school, Canto, a self-taught guitarist, chose to pursue music. He later would perform in various jazz groups as a singer and musician in the U.S. and in Mexico City. After working with movie producers to compose music, he became interested in performing for the screen and decided to pursue acting.

He would go on to appear in Mexican films “Amar No Es Querer” and “Te Presento a Laura” in the 2010s and then transitioned to Hollywood, getting roles in the shows “The Following” and “Mixology.” He also appeared in the Netflix show “Narcos.”

When speaking to the Observer about his move from Mexico to Hollywood, Canto said he was aware of how studios often typecast Latino actors as gangsters in crime dramas. Although he has accepted such parts, he said he always looked for characters that were complex and multifaceted, such as his part in “The Cleaning Lady.”

“I was just honest with myself and with my team the whole way through — there were obviously certain characters or scripts that I read that I immediately went like, ‘Of course not! No!’” he said.

“I know the northern Mexican culture [because] I was raised in it, so I can tell when somebody is just scrambling to come up with a reality that’s far from [the actual] reality, so I honestly stuck with the honesty within myself,” Canto added. “I didn’t want to do anything that didn’t sound or feel right, and I guess I’ve been blessed with good opportunities and I fought for other opportunities that weren’t necessarily handed over to me.”

Canto is survived by his wife, Stephanie Ann Canto, and their two young children, Roman and Eve.