sam munoz (1958-2023)
Sam Munoz died unexpectedly on Sunday Feb 26th, after a brief battle with cancer. He was an actor who loved actors, was a devoted son and family member, and a server of people throughout his life who left a swath of devoted customers in his wake.
Sam - who also performed under the name Sam Cates - was a familiar and much-loved face on the Chicago storefront theater scene, working with Lifeline Theatre (Bram Stokers “Dracula”, “The Little Sister”), A Red Orchid Theatre (“Born Guilty”), Steppenwolf Theatre (“House on Mango Street”), Stage Left (“Leander Stillwell”, “The Good Woman of Szechwan”, “BOCON...The Big Mouth”), Prop Theatre (“St Joan of the Stockyards”), Touchstone Theater, Chicago Dramatists Workshop and Chameleon Productions to list just a few. Sam began his acting career in the 80s in productions of “Othello” and the “Glass Menagerie” at Northeastern Illinois University while a student there.
During his time in Chicago theater, Sam worked with Ed Asner, Jeremy Piven, Bernie Sahlins, and trained with Amy Wright, Shira Piven, Uta Hagen, Mark Nutter and Jim Wise. Sam was included in the Jeff Award for Best Ensemble and Best Production for the 1992 Stage Left Production of “Leander Stillwell”, and was in HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.”
As many actors do, Sam worked a range of “day gigs”. From decades working with the events team at Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, to a Starbucks barista to a Trader Joe’s regular – Sam’s warmth, humor, charm and ability to connect to others in the kindest of ways, literally harnessed new friends and admirers wherever he went.
His family had this to say:
Sam was an actor. Let no one question that. He was also a son, brother (by blood and choice) to many, cousin, greatest uncle in the whole world, godfather, best old friend that you haven't seen in forever (but still best friend), best new friend (ever), a confidant, mentor, public speaker, bad dad joke teller, baby sitter, master barista, TJ crew member, manager of a Tex-Mex restaurant in Brooklyn, Die-hard Cubs fan, Chicago Bears fan, displaced Brooklynite (he loooved Brooklyn) travel junky, couch surfer, bar fly and so much more than that. Sam was loved by many and called away much sooner than any of us would have liked.