Merlin Santana

Merlin Santana (March 14, 1976 – November 9, 2002) was an American actor and rapper. Beginning his career in the early 1990s, 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 Romeo Santana on The WB sitcom The Steve Harvey Show (1996 – 2002).

Merlin Santana
Born(1976-03-14)March 14, 1976
DiedNovember 9, 2002(2002-11-09) (aged 26)
Cause of deathHomicide
Resting placeSaint Raymond's Cemetery
Bronx, New York, U.S.
  • Actor
  • rapper
Years active1991–2002
Known forRomeo Santana  – The Steve Harvey Show

Early lifeEdit

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.[1] 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.

Acting careerEdit

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 November 1994, Santana appeared on Sister, Sister as Joey, in which he falls in love with Tia and Tamera (Tia and Tamera Mowry) at Rocket Burger.

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 murdered while sitting in a car in Los Angeles. Santana and his friend, actor Brandon Adams, just left an acquaintance's home in the Crenshaw District when the suspect 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.

Santana, age 26, was buried on November 18, 2002, at Saint Raymond's Cemetery in The Bronx borough of New York City.

Trial and Allegations against SantanaEdit

In 2003, Gates 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, the other suspect who was with Gates during the shooting received a 23-year sentence after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon.

An LAPD officer involved in the case testified that Monique King, reportedly shooter Gates's girlfriend, only aged 15 at the time, falsely claimed that Santana made sexual advances towards her which prompted the Gates' and Bynes' attack.

In January 2004, King was found guilty of second-degree murder and attempted murder[2] but acquitted on two murder charges, receiving ten years in juvenile custody as a result of Santana's death.[3]


Year Title Role Notes
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 TV 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 Harambee! Flex Television movie
1996–1999 Moesha Ohagi 4 episodes
1996–2002 The Steve Harvey Show Romeo Santana 122 episodes
1997 NYPD Blue Warren Episode: "A Draining Experience"
2001 Flossin Jermaine
2002 Showtime Hector
2002 JAG Seaman Aubrey McBride Episode: "Port Chicago"
2002 Play'd: A Hip Hop Story Mayhem TV movie
2002 Half & Half Dante Aldente Episode: "The Big Pimpin' Episode"
2003 The Blues Goya Direct-to-video release, (final film role)


  1. ^ Josephs, Tasheka (2006-11-09). "Remembering Merlin Santana On His 4-Year Death Anniversary". Archived from the original on 2009-08-25. Retrieved 2009-09-15.
  2. ^ Blankstein, Andrew (March 17, 2004). "Teenage Girl Convicted for Role in Actor's Killing". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
  3. ^ "Three Sentenced in Shooting Death of TV Actor Merlin Santana". Jet. Johnson Publishing Company. 105 (19): 18. 2004-05-10. ISSN 0021-5996.

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