"It comes from my old neighborhood in East Los Angeles," he explains. "We had everyone there. I looked out my window -- we lived above the garage in an alley -- and saw the Russian Jews dressed in white, and the blacks dressed in blue-black." His father was a Spanish-speaking Southern Baptist Mexican immigrant, his mother a Mexican-American and his Catholic great-grandparents lived down the block. The actor and community activist, who is perhaps the most visible symbol of the new multi-cultural Latino consciousness sweeping America, even claims to be a fraction Jewish. Olmos, wearing a fine gray suit and cordovan-colored sweater, says is really "Olmosh" with a great grandparent coming from Hungary to Mexico.
Edward James Olmos wants to connect. Give him a large multi-ethnic crowd -- as was on hand Sunday at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles -- and he'll split himself into pieces finding common links.