Latinos Onscreen, Conspicuously Few - NYTimes.com: If you went to the movies in 1946, when Latinos constituted barely 3 percent of the American population, you might have caught Carmen Miranda, reportedly the highest-paid woman in the world at the time, dancing with her improbably tall fruit hat. By the 1950s, Desi Arnaz graced network TV as a star of “I Love Lucy.”
But it was more likely that the Latino actors seen on big and small screens occupied a narrow range of stereotyped background roles. Still, relative to the total population, the stardom of even a few prominent Latinos was culturally and statistically significant.
Today, Latinos make up 17 percent of Americans, but there has been little change in network television in the number of Latino lead actors and in Latino roles, according to a study, “The Latino Media Gap: A Report on the State of Latinos in U.S. Media,” released on Tuesday by Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race.