“I’ve always detested a certain type of dialect that’s an unkind caricature,” he said in a 1964 interview with The New York Post. “José is not a caricature. He’s the closest representation of a real human being that I can create.” On another occasion, he explained that José was “not a Latin character” but “a universal character.”
Nonetheless, many people saw José as a reinforcement of negative stereotypes, and over the course of the 1960s the character became the target of protests.
By 1970, Mr. Dana had stopped performing as José — he even read the character’s obituary at an event in Los Angeles sponsored by the Congress of Mexican-American Unity — though he insisted that he made that decision not because of mounting anger about the character but because some people were misinterpreting his intentions.
He decided to drop the character, he said in an interview with The Los Angeles Times, because of people “who would tell me, ‘Boy I shore love it when you play that dumb Mexican.’’’
Mr. Dana continued his career in television after that, devoting more of his energies to writing. Among his credits was the script for the 1972 episode of “All in the Family” in which Sammy Davis Jr. ends up in Archie Bunker’s living room, which TV Guide in 1997 ranked 13th on its list of the “100 Greatest Episodes of All Time.”
He also appeared on numerous TV series, occasionally in dramatic roles, although comedy remained his specialty.
The biggest laugh he ever got, he once said, was in a 1991 episode of “The Golden Girls,” when, as a recurring character known as Uncle Angelo, he presumed incorrectly that he’d be taking Blanche, the randy woman-of-a-certain-age played by Rue McClanahan, to bed. Discovering his error,…