Originally from New York, NY, both his parents emigrated from the Dominican Republic to the U.S. for a better life. His mother wanted a career in show business to keep him out of trouble. He began as an advertising model at age 3 for a fast food chain. He then began real acting on "The Cosby Show" (1984). At 15, he co-starred in the show "Getting By" (1993). His best known role was in the "Steve Harvey Show" (1996), as Romeo Santana. He later was known as an aspiring rapper. On November 9, 2002 Merlin Santana was shot to death by two armed men - at the age of 26 - in Los Angeles, California while sitting in a car in the passenger's seat. The person who was with him was wounded but survived. Merlin was buried on November 18, 2002. He left behind a daughter. Merlin had been falsely accused of rape by Monique King where at that time she was a minor. This led to her two male friends - Brandon Douglas Bynes and Damien Andre Gates - to kill Merlin. Damien Andre Gates was convicted of the first-degree murder of Santana and the attempted murder of another man in the car and was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences plus 70 years in prison. Brandon Douglas Bynes received 23 years' imprisonment after he pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon. Monique King was sentenced to eight years in juvenile prison for her role in the crime and convicted of second-degree murder and attempted murder.