Leon Ichaso, TV Director of ‘Miami Vice’ and ‘Queen of the South,’ Dies of Heart Attack at 74

He also directed the 2006 Marc Anthony movie “El Cantante”

Director Leon Ichaso
Director Leon Ichaso attends the premiere of "El Cantante" in 2007. (Evan Agostini/Getty Images)

Veteran director Leon Ichaso, who directed TV episodes from “Miami Vice” to “Queen of the South,” and numerous features, died suddenly of a “massive heart attack,” his sister said Monday.

“My beloved brother Leon Ichaso died today of an unexpected massive heart attack in Los Angeles,” his sister Mari Rodríguez Ichaso tweeted in Spanish on Monday. “Brilliant, full of life, youth of spirit and illusions. A wonderful filmmaker and a unique being – and everyone who has met him knows it. I am destroyed. God help us!”

Mari, who is a contributor to the Spanish-language Vanidades magazine and a style columnist for CNN en Español, shared another tweet in English, in which she wrote, “Leon Ichaso- RIP- Pioneer of telling the history of immigrants in his movies! A brilliant director & writer. Loved Life. My beloved brother!… Damn sudden heart attack!”

Ichaso directed multiple episodes of “Miami Vice” and “Crime Story” in the ’80s, and most recently the Alice Braga USA series “Queen of the South.” He also helmed episodes of “The Cleaner, “Prodigal Son,” “Medium,” and “Criminal Minds.” “Queen of the South Writer” Jorge A. Reyes also shared a tribute to Icharo, saying, “We lost a real one today: Leon Ichaso. Cuban… A true artist & caballero. RIP, hermano.”

The Cuban-born director also helmed the features “El Cantante” with Marc Anthony as the late salsa singer Héctor Lavoe, “Piñero” with Benjamin Bratt as poet/playwright Miguel Piñero, and 1994’s “Sugar Hill” with Wesley Snipes.

Writer/director Carlos Díaz Lechuga remembered him on Facebook.

“Leon Ichaso has died,” Lechuga said. “Great Cuban filmmaker. His film ‘Azucar Amarga’ was one of those experiences where I was more free on the island. RIP and my condolences to the family.”