Freddy Beras Goico, an actor and comedian considered the most influential television figure in his native Dominican Republic, died Thursday in New York. He was 69.
Beras died at Mount Sinai Medical Center from complications of pancreatic cancer, according to Giancarlo Beras, his son.
Beras was hospitalized in the Dominican Republic on Nov. 2 and flown to New York two days later. He underwent surgery at Mount Sinai earlier this year.
His death prompted an outpouring of grief in his homeland and among Dominican communities in the United States.
President Leonel Fernandez praised him as a mediator of the country’s political and social conflicts with his broadcasting and philanthropy.
“He appealed with energy and integrity for the construction of a better society,” Fernandez said.
Beras began his television career as a cameraman in the early 1960s and went on to host a weekly variety show that aired for 30 years, featuring some of the most famous musicians of the Dominican Republic and Latin America. He also regularly appeared on other programs and nightclubs and created a charitable foundation.
Beras, whose family fled to Colombia during the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo, was also a political activist in the 1950s and 1960s and was jailed in 1965 for taking part with Gen. Francisco Alberto Caamano in a war to re–establish the democratic government of Juan Bosc.
He later became a critic of the late strongman Joaquin Balaguer, who held power off and on for 24 years until 1996.
Beras’ body was scheduled to be transported back to his homeland Friday for a funeral.