November 11, 1933
|Died||August 23, 2011 (aged 77)|
|Other names||Uncle Frank|
|Known for||Jimmy Kimmel Live!|
|Relatives||Jimmy Kimmel |
Francis Potenza (November 11, 1933 – August 23, 2011) was an American police officer for the New York City Police Department and security guard. He later became a television actor for the late-night show Jimmy Kimmel Live!. He appeared as Jimmy Kimmel's "Uncle Frank" on the ABC show as a regular from 2003 until his death in 2011.
Early life and career
Francis Potenza was born in Brooklyn, New York City, in 1933. He served in the United States Army during the Korean War. Potenza joined the New York Police Department (NYPD) following the war, serving as a beat cop in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, in the 62nd Precinct for 20 years. He reportedly made just six arrests during his two decades in the NYPD, believing that a lecture by the police delivered more benefits than a prison sentence.
He became a security guard and moved to Las Vegas upon his retirement from the NYPD. He served inside Frank Sinatra's personal security detail and as bodyguard when Sinatra performed at Caesars Palace. He returned to New York City to take a security position at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan.
Role on Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Potenza had worked in security for more than ten years in New York City and Las Vegas when his nephew, comedian Jimmy Kimmel, asked him to join his late-night talk show, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, as a regular in 2003. Potenza, who was still working security at St. Patrick's Cathedral at the time, accepted Kimmel's offer and moved to southern California. He was introduced to audiences as Kimmel's "Uncle Frank", serving as a comic foil to the late-night host. Potenza appeared on the show for eight years from 2003 to 2011. Uncle Frank quickly developed his own fan following, with Kimmel noting in 2007, "People can tell that Uncle Frank is the genuine article... That's why they like him."
In one ongoing comic piece, Potenza was teamed with his former wife (and Kimmel's aunt), Concetta ("Chippy"), for a series of tasks ranging from self defense lessons to dairy farming. Potenza was also paired with Guillermo Rodriguez, the show's parking lot security guard, and Veatrice Rice, the show's security guard, for comedic effect. Rice died of cancer on January 21, 2009.
Death and tributes
Potenza died from cancer in Los Angeles on August 23, 2011, aged 77. He was survived by his ex-wife, three daughters, and a granddaughter. He was married to Chippy for more than 28 years before their divorce. His memorial service was held in Las Vegas. In a Twitter message, Kimmel thanked Potenza's fans, tweeting, "Thank you for your kind words about a very kind man" and "RIP Uncle Frank, his comic timing took a lifetime to earn. Today I eat cake for him."
The show was on summer hiatus at the time of Potenza's death and was scheduled to return on September 6, 2011. On September 6, Kimmel aired a special tribute episode to Uncle Frank, with an interview with Frank's favorite guest, Don Rickles. A caricature of Uncle Frank appears in tribute on the back cover of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones' album The Magic of Youth, released on December 16, 2011 (the Bosstones' lead singer, Dicky Barrett, is the announcer for Jimmy Kimmel Live!).
- "Passings: Frank Potenza, John Howard Davies, Jack Layton". Los Angeles Times. August 24, 2011. Retrieved September 1, 2011.
- Dillon, Nancy (August 23, 2011). "Frank Potenza, 'Uncle Frank' on nephew Jimmy Kimmel's late-night show, dead at 77". New York Daily News. Retrieved September 1, 2011.
- Carter, Bill (August 26, 2011). "Frank Potenza, Foil for Kimmel, Is Dead at 77". New York Times. Retrieved September 1, 2011.
- "NYPD 62nd Precinct - New York City, New York". wikimapia.org. Retrieved October 26, 2015.
- "Jimmy Kimmel's Uncle Frank, Staple on 'Kimmel Show' Dies at 77". KTLA-TV. August 23, 2011. Retrieved September 1, 2011.