The entertainment world is no stranger to the heart-wrenching loss of talented individuals who leave a lasting impact on their fans and peers.
Merlin Santana, known for his roles in popular television shows and films, was one such talent whose untimely death in 2002 shook the entertainment industry and left his fans mourning the loss of a promising young actor.
In this article, we explore the tragic circumstances surrounding Merlin Santana's death.
Who Was Merlin Santana?
Merlin Santana was an Afro-Latino-American television actor best known for his performance on ‘The Steve Harvey Show' as the adolescent Romeo.
His roles as Rudy Huxtable's boyfriend Stanley in ‘The Cosby Show,' Marcus Henry in ‘Under One Roof,' and Marcus Dixon in ‘Getting By' helped him advance in his career.
His mother coerced him into starting to model at the age of three for a fast food chain campaign. After becoming noticed for his role as Stanley on ‘The Cosby Show,' he began receiving rich offers.
Santana was shot in the head in 2002 while sitting in a parked automobile in South Los Angeles, by a man named Damien Andre Gates.
He perished in an instant. According to an officer engaged in the case, Damien Andre Gates' girlfriend, Monique King, falsely stated that Santana had made sexual approaches towards her, which led to the murder.
How Did Merlin Santana Die?
Merlin was shot in the head and murdered on November 9, 2002, while sitting in a parked car with his best friend and former child actor, Brandon Quintin Adams. They had just left another man's house in Los Angeles' Crenshaw District.
Suddenly, a man named Damien Andre Gates fired the shot that perforated the car's right-front passenger headrest and entered Merlin's head, killing him instantly.
It was stated that Damien's girlfriend, Monique King, falsely claimed that Merlin had made sexual approaches toward her, prompting her boyfriend to kill Merlin in wrath.
According to Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Larry P. Fidler, she also assisted him in escaping after he shot Santana.
Damien was found guilty of first-degree murder and attempted murder in the death of Adams and sentenced to three consecutive life terms plus 70 years in jail. Brandon Douglas Bynes, who assisted Damien, was sentenced to 23 years in prison.
Monique was charged with attempted murder and second-degree murder. She was cleared of two murder counts, but sentenced to ten years in juvenile detention.
Merlin was laid to rest in Saint Raymond's Cemetery in The Bronx, New York, on November 18, 2002.
How Did Merlin Santana Rise to Fame?
Merlin Santana had his first cinematic appearance as an extra in Woody Allen's 1985 film ‘The Purple Rose of Cairo' at the age of nine. When he was 15, he appeared in a recurring role on ‘The Cosby Show' as Stanley, Rudy Huxtable's boyfriend.
His performance was lauded, and his acting abilities were acknowledged. He was cast as Marcus Dixon in the American sitcom ‘Getting By,' which premiered on ABC and subsequently NBC in 1993. However, because of poor ratings, it was discontinued after a year.
In November 1994, he was cast in the television sitcom ‘Sister, Sister' as Joey, who falls in love with Tia and Tamera.
In 1995, he starred as Marcus Henry in the CBS family drama ‘Under One Roof,' which was equally short-lived.
He was also cast as Ohagi in ‘Moesha,' a 1996 comedic series that aired on the UPN network. It lasted over five years.
He also earned the role of Romeo on ‘The Steve Harvey Show' in 1996, which ran on The WB Television Network for six years.
In 2001, he portrayed the character of Jermaine in the movie ‘Flossin', and in 2002, he was included in the VH1 TV movie, ‘Play'd: A Hip Hop Story'. While ‘Half & Half' on UPN was his final TV series, his last picture was the comedy ‘The Blues,' which was released in 2003.