He was one of daytime television’s biggest heroes and one-half of one of the most popular supercouples in soap opera history. But there was one particular thing that made Cruz Castillo, Santa Barbara’s top cop, stand out from the crowded pack of swarthy soap hunks: he was the very first prominently featured Hispanic-American character on a serialized program.
Cruz made his debut in Santa Barbara’s eleventh episode and was initially presented as a “fixer” who specialized in oil rigs that have caught on fire.
Cruz arrived at an offshore rig belonging to C.C Capwell that was already spewing out toxic fumes and red hot flames.
Although he was able to evacuate the crew and prevent the entire structure from exploding, Cruz was presumed lost at sea before making his way to the Capwell estate. Ever the gentlemen, Cruz managed to greet his former sweetheart, Santana Andrade, and kiss her hand before passing out at her feet.
Cruz and Eden are now synonyms with the word supercouple but in Santa Barbara’s early days the characters didn’t even mingle. In fact, each was destined for other pairings: Cruz with Santana and Eden with Warren Lockridge.
But when Cruz and Eden finally shared a scene together there was a noticeable tension made all the more palpable by the positively electric chemistry that exuded between actors A Martinez and Marcy Walker.
In short order, a heretofore unknown dalliance between the two characters was invented and soon Cruz and Eden were picking up where they had left off all those years ago.
The couple earned the 1990 Soap Opera Digest Award for Outstanding Supercouple but the relationship also has another important distinction: it was the very first fan-supported interracial love affair.
Although the couples socioeconomic divide was an acceptable soap opera staple, the fact that a love affair between a Mexican-American male and a Caucasian female could be so well received was revelatory to daytime executives.
Interruptions and Interference
In keeping with supercouple tradition, Cruz and Eden would have to deal with a series of severe and traumatic events that would serve to put their relationship asunder, bring them back together and break them up all over again.
At first, it was Cruz’s new job as a police detective that would stand in the way of their happiness — it’s bound to happen when your lover arrests your mother for committing murder.
And just to further complicate the issue Cruz and Eden both pledged their troth to another party: Cruz married Santana and Eden wed Kirk Cranston.
When the duo finally got around to setting a wedding date the venue was set ablaze and the event canceled. Their second stab at marriage was interrupted by Eden’s vengeful half-sister, Elena Nikolas, who shoved Eden off the side of a mountain in snowy Utah.
Cruz and Eden did eventually make it down the aisle — marrying in period costumes at the Pebble Creek Inn on April 1, 1988. The couple welcomed a daughter, Adriana — though there was an initial fear that the baby had been fathered by Zack Kelton, the gynecologist who had brutally raped Eden nine months previous.
Cruz had also been revealed to the father of Chip — conceived with Victoria Lane while Cruz was feverish and under the impression that his fellow shipwreck survivor was Eden.
Santa Barbara was certainly not your average soap opera. And Cruz found himself embroiled in a number of highly improbable and downright imaginary storylines. He fought his way out of a privately-owned jungle all the while avoiding a madman hunting him for sport.
He and Eden traveled back in time via an enchanted mirror and had to reunite Eden’s parents to ensure her birth. The couple even helped Santa Claus deliver toys on Christmas Eve.
But even Cruz had to blanch about this tale involving a magical necklace: In 1990, Cruz was visited by a dying shaman who claimed to be his forefather tasked with bringing a special talisman that only Cruz could wield.
The villainous Pasha of Kareef tried to kill Cruz to get his hands on the sacred item but the talisman’s power protected Cruz from harm.
In desperation, the Pasha kidnapped Cruz and brought him to his homeland where he intended to force Mr. Castillo to perform with one of the women in his harem and produce a child capable of using the talisman. Luckily Eden is able to rescue Cruz and the audience from such a ridiculous story.