Joe Santos (1931 - 2016)

Joe Santos, a character actor known best for playing Lieutenant Dennis Becker on TV’s “The Rockford Files” alongside James Garner, died March 18, four days after having a heart attack, according to multiple news sources. He was 84.

The death was announced by the actor’s son, Perry.

Santos helped Garner’s character, L.A. private eye Jim Rockford, solve crimes on the show from 1974 to 1980. Santos, who received an Emmy nomination for the part, also played the role in several made-for-TV movies. He also had continuing roles on “Police Story,” “Magnum, P.I.,” “Santa Barbara,” and “The Sopranos.” In seven 2004 episodes of “The Sopranos,” Santos played a consigliere, Angelo Garepe.

Santos, who was born Joseph Minieri June 9, 1931, in Brooklyn, New York, enjoyed working with Garner on “The Rockford Files.” As he explained in “The Garner Files: A Memoir,” Garner’s autobiography, “Garner says he’s easygoing, but he’s lying. He’s angry and desperate, just like I am. That’s why ‘Rockford’ has always worked so well, because Jim is coming from a very passionate, driven place.”


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Santos’ career wasn’t limited to the small screen. He played various characters in more than two dozen films including “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight” (1971), “The Education of Allison Tate” (1986), “The Last Boy Scout” (1991), and “The Man From Elysian Fields” (2001).

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