The 1982 Halloween episode of CHiPs is famous for its Kiss-inspired storyline, but the episode is notable for the inclusion of a future rocker: Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo.

Viewers can’t be blamed for missing the aspiring metalhead in the episode. After all, Trujillo was just 18 years old when he appeared on CHiPs. The young actor played Flippy, a teen who gets arrested after putting pumpkins in the street for unsuspecting vehicles to run over. The kid is befriended by Erik Estrada’s character, Ponch, who gets him out of trouble in exchange for agreeing to chaperone younger children while they go trick-or-treating.

Later in the episode, Ponch saves Flippy's life, pulling him from underneath a fuel tanker, just before it bursts into flames.

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While this CHiPs role offered Trujillo arguably the most memorable role of his acting career, it wasn’t his on-screen debut. That honor goes to House Calls, a 1978 film starring Walter Matthau, Glenda Jackson and Art Carney. Trujillo had a brief, non-speaking role in the romantic comedy, credited as “Mexican Boy.”

Scout’s Honor, a 1980 made-for-TV movie starring Gary Coleman would give Trujillo his first lines. The family-friendly comedy, based around the adventure of a young boy (Coleman) who dreams of being the best Cub Scout he can be, was hardly the place you’d expect to find a future Rock and Roll Hall of Famer.

Following his CHiPs appearance, Trujillo turned his attention to music. “I ended up playing a lot of backyard party bands,” the rocker recalled of his teen years during a conversation with Metal Hammer. “I played a lot of [Black] Sabbath, a lot of Ozzy [Osbourne], Rush but challenging Rush, [Led] Zeppelin, it goes on. I went to jazz school when I was 19. I really wanted to be a studio musician but I was still passionate about rock and metal.”

Though his burgeoning music career meant an end to acting, Trujillo did pop up in the 1992 film Encino Man. The rocker, alongside the other members of his funk-metal supergroup Infectious Grooves, performed at the film’s high school prom. Their rendition of “Feed the Monkey” got the entire student body -- led by Brendan Fraser and Pauly Shore, dancing in unison.

Watch Robert Trujillo and Infectious Grooves in 'Encino Man'

While Trujillo’s career, and certainly his wallet, is probably better off having focused on music rather than acting, it’s still fun to look back at the rocker’s early brush with stardom. While fans are unlikely to see Trujillo returning to his thespian roots, we’ll always have Flippy.

 

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