He was born on February 4, 1922, in the municipality of Ponce. He was the son of Monserrate Ramírez and Tomás Muñiz, who was an employee of the West Indies Advertising Company, an advertising agency, and owner of a radio station, WIAC. He began his primary studies at the New City School in Santurce. Later, he continued his studies at the Model School at the University of Puerto Rico and graduated from the high school at the campus.
In his first job in the communications media, he was 19 years old and he operated the radio station controls for WIAC during press conferences. Later, he was a script writer and a disc jockey for the program La era del ritmo and was a moderator for Revista informal along with Luis Vigoreaux and José Miguel Agrelot. Along with the latter, he participated in the radio comedy La familia Pérez – which became the most listened to program among Puerto Ricans – and Torito & Co.
In 1943, he appeared along with other artists in vaudeville shows at training camps for the United States armed forces in the Caribbean. Later, he created his own production company called Producciones Tommy Muñiz, which, from its beginnings, opened doors for many young artists.
In 1954, he entered the new world of television as an independent producer. In his television career, he was also a script writer and a comedian. The first of his programs was El profesor Colgate. Among other programs he produced were El colegio de la alegría, La criada malcriada, Esto no tiene nombre, Los García, El show de Tommy, Jajá, jijí, jojó con Agrelot and El show del mediodía.
When WAPA TV was bought by investors in the United States, Tommy decided to buy his own station where he could promote Puerto Rican programs and artists. In 1978, he bought WRIK, channel 7, along with its radio station, and renamed it WLUZ, TeleLuz, and Radio WLUZ, in honor of his wife.
He broadcast a large number of comedy and analysis programs through his station. Channel 7 was the only station to transmit, in 1983, the public hearings in the Senate about the Cerro Maravilla case, in which police agents assassinated two pro-independence activists in 1978.
In 1985, however, he was forced to sell the television station due to economic problems, and concentrated on Radio WLUZ.
He entered the theater for the first time in the work Los muchachos de la alegría (Sunshine Boys) by Neil Diamond, under the direction of Puerto Rican director and actor Jacobo Morales. The same director hired him to play the protagonist in the film Lo que le pasó a Santiago, the first Puerto Rican film to receive a nomination for an Oscar (1990). Later, he acted alongside Rubén Blades in Crazy from the Heart (1991).
In the 1990s, he returned to the small screen where he acted in the weekly programs Carcajadas y algo más and El papá de mi papá. He also created a series of specials called Latitud 18.5, that presented the history of the island in the 1950s and 1960s, and Las islas de Puerto Rico, in which he spoke about the beauty of the island's natural resources. In October of 2003, Producciones Tommy Muñiz donated to the University of Puerto Rico a collection of his radio and television programs, as well as official documents and scripts.
Tommy Muñiz died on January 15, 2009, at his residence in San Juan at 86 years of age.
"Don Tommy". Claridadpuertorico.com, Periódico Claridad, s.f. On line. 5 febrero 2009.
"En memoria: aplausos para don Tommy". Claridadpuertorico.com, Periódico Claridad, s.f. En línea. 5 febrero 2009.
Rivera, Osvaldo. "Los pasos de don Tommy". Notic@mpus, Universidad de Puerto Rico, Río Piedras, s.f. On line. 6 febrero 2009.
López Ortiz, Miguel. "El legado de don Tommy a nuestra televisión". Fundación Nacional para la Cultura Popular, 27 enero 2009. On line. 6 febrero 2009.
Autor: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: September 12, 2014.