Joe Santos

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Joe Santos
Staff Sgt. Nicolas Perez, a recruiter with Recruiting Station Los Angeles, laughs with Joe Santos
Born Joseph John Minieri Jr.
(1931-06-09)June 9, 1931
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Died March 18, 2016(2016-03-18) (aged 84)
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1963–2010
Spouse(s) Maria Montero (m. 1958–1988; her death)
Partner(s) Nancy Hobson
Children 3, including Perry Santos

Joe Santos (born Joseph John Minieri Jr.; June 9, 1931 – March 18, 2016) was an Italian-American film and television actor, best known as Sgt. Dennis Becker, the friend of James Garner's character, on the NBC crime drama, The Rockford Files.

Early years[edit]

Born in Brooklyn on June 9, 1931, the same day his father died.[1] His mother Rose (née Sarno), sold olive oil and eventually became a nightclub owner and singer in New York City and Havana. She later married Puerto Rican-born Daniel Santos, and Joe took his name.[2]

Santos was a football player at Fordham University, and even turned semi-pro, before finding a new avenue in acting. He struggled in show business, and worked blue-collar jobs until his friend Al Pacino helped him get a role in the 1971 movie The Panic in Needle Park.[3]

In the Korean War, Santos served in the United States Army.[1]


From 1974–1980, Santos played LAPD Sergeant (later Lieutenant) Dennis Becker, the friend of the easy going ex-convict-turned-private investigator Jim Rockford (played by James Garner) in The Rockford Files,[4] and Lt. Frank Harper in the TV series Hardcastle and McCormick (1985–86).

In 1980, Santos played Norman Davis in the NBC comedy Me and Maxx.[5]:675 In 1984, he portrayed Domingo Rivera on the ABC comedy A.K.A. Pablo.[5]

He had brief parts in several lesser-known films, and made a number of guest appearances on television shows throughout his acting career, frequently in the stock character role of a police officer. He also appeared on The Sopranos as Angelo Garepe in seven 2004 episodes. From 1978-80 Santos appeared on the CBS game show The Match Game, always sitting in the top left seat. He appeared in numerous episodes and was usually comic foil to Brett Somers.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

In 1958, Santos met and married Maria Montero while he was in Cuba.[1]


Santos had a heart attack in March 2016 and died a few days later at the age of 84.[3]


Year Film Role Notes
1964 Flesh and Lace Julian shop owner
1966 Moonlighting Wives Detective Hank
1967 The Tiger Makes Out Uncredited
1971 The Panic in Needle Park Detective DiBono
1971 The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight Ezmo
1972 Shaft's Big Score! Pascal
1973 The Friends of Eddie Coyle Artie Van
The Blue Knight Sgt. Cruz Segovia
Shamus Lieutenant Promuto
1974 Zandy's Bride Frank Gallo
1976 A Matter of Wife... And Death Lieutenant Promuto
1983 Blue Thunder Montoya
1984 Fear City Frank
1986 The Education of Allison Tate Detective Duncan
1989 Beverly Hills Brats Spyder
1990 Revenge Ibarra
1991 The Last Boy Scout Bessalo
1992 Sinatra Marty Sinatra
Mo' Money Lt. Raymond Walsh
1993 The Right Way
1994 Trial by Jury Johnny Verona
1997 The Postman Colonel Getty
2000 Hammerlock Warden Stan Cromwell
Auggie Rose Emanuel
2001 Proximity Clive Plummer
The Man from Elysian Fields Domenico
2009 Baseline Bashir Abu Ahmed
2010 Dead Genesis Jason

Television credits[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Lentz, Harris M. III (2017). Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2016. McFarland. pp. 347–348. ISBN 9781476670317. Retrieved 24 March 2018. 
  2. ^ Weber, Bruce (March 18, 2016). "Joe Santos, a Mainstay of 'The Rockford Files,' Dies at 84" – via 
  3. ^ a b Weber, Bruce (March 18, 2016). "Joe Santos, a Mainstay of 'The Rockford Files,' Dies at 84". The New York Times. p. A22. 
  4. ^ Susan Doukas Brady (July 11, 2012). Tales, Observations and Notes: Bob an Actor's Mentor. Susan Doukas Brady. p. 36. ISBN 978-1-61927-060-2. 
  5. ^ a b Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2nd ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. pp. 21–22. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7. 

External links[edit]