Danny Trejo Biography

Danny Trejo is an American actor of Mexican descent. Check out this biography to know about his childhood, family life, achievements and fun facts about his life.

Quick Facts

Birthday: May 16, 1944

Nationality: American

Famous: Actors American Men

Age: 75 Years, 75 Year Old Males

Sun Sign: Taurus

Born in: Echo Park, Los Angeles, California

Famous as: Actor

Height: 5'6" (168 cm), 5'6" Males


Spouse/Ex-: Debbie Shreve (m. 1997–2009)

father: Dan Trejo

mother: Alice Rivera

children: Danielle Trejo, Danny Boy Trejo, Esmeralda Trejo, Gilbert Trejo, Jose Trejo

U.S. State: California

City: Los Angeles

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Dan “Danny” Trejo is an American actor of Mexican descent. He has appeared in numerous projects on the big screen and the small, mainly portraying villains or anti-heroes. He had a troublesome childhood during which he became involved with drugs and spent considerable time of his youth in prison. During his incarceration, he entered in a twelve-step program to successfully overcome his drug addiction. As of 2017, he has been sober for the last 49 years. While working as a youth drug counsellor, he landed the job of training actor Eric Roberts in boxing for the film ‘Runaway Train’. It ultimately led to a small part in the film. Known for his distinctive appearance with body arts, heavily lined face, and cystic acne marks, he has become a prolific actor across genres since then. In 2001, director Robert Rodriguez first introduced the character Machete, portrayed by Trejo, in the film ‘Spy Kids’. Trejo reprised the role in the sequels and then in the first spin-off, eponymously named ‘Machete’ and its own sequel, ‘Machete Kills’. These movies established him as a potential lead actor in action films. In the comics series ‘DMZ’, writer Brian Wood created the character Danny with not only same features as Trejo but with the same background history as well!

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Childhood & Early Life
  • Born on May 16, 1944, in the Echo Park neighbourhood of Los Angeles, California, Danny Trejo is the son of a construction worker, Dan Trejo, and his wife Alice Rivera. He is of Mexican descent.
  • Throughout his late teens and 20s, Trejo ended up in jail several times on drug and robbery charges, serving terms in legendary prisons such as Folsom and San Quentin. During his incarceration in the latter, he diverted all his intense energy into the boxing ring, winning multiple championships in that prison’s lightweight and welterweight divisions.
  • His search for a better life was also accommodated by his willingness to change himself. To combat his drug addiction, he attended a twelve-step program, eventually beating the evil habit and staying clean since. He used to be a labour foreman in construction before his acting career took off.
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Career & Later Life
  • Danny Trejo desired to give back to his community and help out the youths stuck in the same situation as he once was. Thus he worked tirelessly for various rehabilitation and counselling programs.
  • During this period, he was requested by a struggling teenager to assist him in dealing with his cocaine use. Trejo met him on the set of the film ‘Runaway Train’ in 1985 and was recognised by the screenwriter Edward Bunker, himself an ex-convict, who hired him to train Eric Roberts for a boxing scene. The film’s director Andrei Konchalovsky later offered Trejo a small part in the project.
  • Since then, he has built up quite an impressive resume, appearing in as much as five movies a year. In 1987, he acted in ‘Penitentiary III’, ‘The Hidden’, and ‘Death Wish 4: The Crackdown’. He followed that up with films such as ‘Bulletproof’ (1988), ‘Lock Up (1989), ‘Marked For Death’ (1990), ‘Wedlock’ (1991), ‘Nails’ (1992), ‘Last Light’ (1993), and ‘Against the Wall’ (1994). He was part of the stellar cast of Michael Mann’s directorial venture ‘Heat’ (1995), which also included Al Pacino and Robert De Niro.
  • In recent years, he has been cast in ‘Point Blank’ (1998), ‘Animal Factory’ (2000), ‘Bubble Boy’ (2001), ‘The Devil's Rejects’ (2005), Snoop Dogg's ‘Hood of Horror’ (2006), ‘Delta Farce’ (2007), ‘Grindhouse’ (2007), ‘Valley of Angels’ (2008), ‘Zombie Hunter’ (2013), ‘The Book of Life’ (2014), and ‘All About the Money’ (2017).
  • Trejo has starred in several Hollywood blockbusters, including ‘Anaconda’ (1997), Con Air (1997), ‘XXX’ (2002), and ‘Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004). His collaboration with Rodriguez beyond the ‘Spy Kids’ franchise has produced ‘Desperado’ (1995), ‘From Dusk till Dawn’ (1996), and its sequels, ‘Once Upon a Time in Mexico’ (2003), and ‘Predators’ (2010).
  • In the 2012 action film ‘Bad Ass’ and its sequels, ‘Bad Ass 2: Bad Asses’ (2014) and ‘Bad Asses on the Bayou’ (2015), Trejo portrayed Frank Vega, a down and out Vietnam War veteran. He played Jack, a criminal, in Philip Shih’s crime horror ‘Reaper’ (2015).
  • Trejo is equally at ease on the small screen, guest-starring in some of biggest shows of the last two decades. He has appeared in ‘Baywatch’, ‘Alias’, ‘Lost’, ‘Monk’, ‘Bones’, and ‘The Family Guy’, just to name a few.
Major Works
  • Danny Trejo is best known for portraying the character of Machete in several films. Director Rodriguez has always cast Trejo in roles that the audience can sympathize with as opposed to his regular outings as the antagonist in projects helmed by other filmmakers.
  • When they first met, Rodriguez thought that Trejo should be like the Mexican Charles Bronson or Jean Claude Van Damme, and that his name should be Machete. The gradual development of the character Isador “Machete” Cortez coincided with Danny Trejo’s rising popularity.
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  • Trejo first portrayed the role in 2001 adventure comedy ‘Spy Kids’, also starring Antonio Banderas as Machete’s brother Gregorio Cortez and Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara as his niece Carmen and nephew Juni respectively. He also appeared in its three sequels, ‘Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams’ (2002), ‘Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over’ (2003), and ‘Spy Kids: All the Time in the World’ (2011).
  • In 2010, the film ‘Machete’—featuring Trejo in the lead role—premiered to rave reviews and earned US$ 14 million in its first weekend at the box-office in America. Made with an eye on older audiences, the film is a bloody, violent tale of hatred and vengeance. Trejo returned in the sequel ‘Machete Kills’ (2013), which won him an Eyegore Award.
Awards & Achievements
  • In 2007, Danny Trejo won Best Actor Award for ‘Valley of Angels’ at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival.
  • He was inducted into the Texas Film Hall of Fame on March 8, 2012.
  • For ‘The Weight of Blood and Bones’ (2015), he received the Best Picture Trophy (shared with Chris Ekstein) at the 2016 United International Film Festival.
Personal Life
  • Danny Trejo married actress and realtor Debbie Shreve on December 12, 1997. They have two children together, Gilbert and Dannielle. After twelve years of marriage, the couple divorced in 2009. Trejo is also the father of sons Danny Boy and Jose, and daughter Esmeralda from other relationships.
  • He currently resides in San Fernando Valley and is an ardent fan of the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Dodgers.
  • Beside a thriving career in the entertainment industry, Trejo has made a name for himself as a shrewd investor, particularly in the food and beverage sector. He is the owner of a successful restaurant chain in Los Angeles, including a taco restaurant on La Brea Avenue. He has recently begun to operate a doughnut food truck in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is also the majority shareholder in numerous brands of coffee, beer, ice cream sandwiches, baseball caps and shirts.
  • In 2005, director Joe Eckardt made ‘Champions’, an award-winning documentary on Danny Trejo’s life. The Mexican alternative rock band Plastilina Mosh composed the track ‘Danny Trejo’ as a tribute to the actor for their third album ‘All U Need Is Mosh’ (2008).
Net Worth
  • Danny Trejo has an estimated net worth of $16 million.
  • He is a second cousin of Robert Rodriguez, a fact that neither knew until they worked together in ‘Desperado’.
  • Trejo is one of the contributors to Clifton Collins, Gustavo “Goose” Alvarez, and Samuel L. Jackson’s cookbook ‘Prison Ramen: Recipes and Stories from Behind Bars’ (2015).

1. Heat (1995)

  (Drama, Crime, Thriller, Action)

2. Bound by Honor (1993)

  (Crime, Drama)

3. 'A' gai wak (1983)

  (Comedy, Action)

4. Grindhouse (2007)

  (Action, Horror, Thriller)

5. From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

  (Action, Horror, Crime)

6. Beat the Devil (2002)

  (Adventure, Action, Comedy, Short)

7. Desperado (1995)

  (Thriller, Crime, Action)

8. The Salton Sea (2002)

  (Mystery, Drama, Thriller, Crime)

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Article Title
- Danny Trejo Biography
- Editors, TheFamousPeople.com
- TheFamousPeople.com
Last Updated
- October 11, 2017
Danny Trejo

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