A comic actress and singer almost always in Latina parts that called for an outspoken and sarcastic personality, Liz Torres has made a good living as a second banana or supporting player on sitcoms. She is perhaps best recalled as Teresa Betancort, the Puerto Rican boarder who drove Archie Bunker crazy, on "All in the Family" (CBS, 1976-77) and especially as Mahalia Sanchez, the assistant to the night manager of a bus station who drives him crazy, on "The John Larroquette Show" (NBC, 1993-96). For the latter, Torres earned two Emmy nominations as Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. She had previously been nominated for a 1989 guest appearance on the CBS sitcom "The Famous Teddy Z."
A native of The Bronx, Torres got her start as a singer and comedienne at clubs in New York City where he conductor was Barry Manilow (then doing double duty with Bette Midler). Torres eventually became the opening act for such stars as Liza Minnelli, Tony Bennett and Helen Reddy. An appearance on "The Tonight Show" launched her further. She first made it to Hollywood in 1972 as a singer and sketch artist on the CBS summer series "Melba Moore-Clifton Davis Show." She had the same role on another summer series "Ben Vereen...Comin' At Ya" (CBS, 1975). This gave her career some push and led to her casting on "All in the Family." She was again on CBS from 1976-77 as Julie Erskine, boss to Cloris Leachman on "Phyllis." Torres had not appeared in the role in the pilot, but when the Barbara Colby, the actress who had, was murdered, Torres stepped in. But, when the series was revamped for its second season, Torres was out. It was several years before she landed another regular series role, this time as Marla Gibbs' assistant on the short-lived "Checking In" (CBS, 1981). She was an assistant again, this time on "The New Odd Couple" (ABC, 1982-83). It was another seven years before Torres was cast alongside Valerie Harper in "City" (CBS, 1990). By then, she had become much heavier, but her sass quotient was still high. With "The John Larroquette Show," she finally achieved a spot on a long-running sitcom.
Torres has also had supporting roles in some TV longforms, such as "Murder Can Hurt You!" (ABC, 1980). One of her better roles was as a woman bemused by a sportswriter who is actually a woman dressed as a man in "Her Life as a Man" (NBC, 1984). Torres has also appeared in a few feature films, beginning with her role as a singer in a men's room in the independent "You've Got to Walk It Like You Talk It or You'll Lose That Beat" (1971). She was one of the loonies at a cable TV station in "America" (1986), was among the Latino actors assembled by Paul Rodriguez for his directorial debut, "A Million to Juan" (1993) and delivered a strong turn as a drug-using pal to screenwriter Jerry Stahl (played by Ben Stiller) in "Permanent Midnight" (1998).
Cast (Feature Film)
Music (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Made feature film debut in "You've Got to Watch It Like You Talk It or You'll Lose That Beat"
Had first TV series exposure in summer's "Melba Moore-Clifton Davis Show" (CBS)
Was member of the ensemble for "Ben Vereen...Comin' At Ya" summer series (CBS)
Appeared in TV-movie "Murder Can Hurt You!" (ABC)
Played Marla Gibbs' assistant on short-lived series "Checking In" (CBS)
Was member of the supporting cast of "City" (CBS)
Co-starred in feature film "A Million to Juan"
Cast as Rosa on the short-lived ABC sitcom "Over the Top"
Delivered a strong supporting turn as a drug addict in the feature "Permanent Midnight"
Had recurring role on the popular The WB series "Gilmore Girls"; made regular as of the 2001-2002 season