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.
Santos (right) in 2009
Joseph John Minieri Jr.
June 9, 1931
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
|Died||March 18, 2016 (aged 84)|
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
(m. 1958; her death 1988)
|Children||3, including Perry Santos|
Santos was born in Brooklyn on June 9, 1931, the same day his father died. 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.
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.
In the Korean War, Santos served in the United States Army.
Santos had roles in a number of notable films of the early 1970s, including The Panic in Needle Park (1971), The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight (1971), as the leader of a slave-catching gang in the western The Legend of Ngr Charley (1972), Shaft's Big Score! (1972), as a policeman in Shamus (1973), The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973), The Don Is Dead (1973), Blade (1973) and Zandy's Bride (1974). More than two decades later he appeared in the big budget Kevin Costner flop, The Postman (1997).
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,. He portrayed Lt. Frank Harper in the TV series Hardcastle and McCormick (1985–86). He reprised the Dennis Becker role in eight The Rockford Files television movies (1994-1999).
Santos appeared in various television movies during the 1970s and 1980s, including Nightside (1973), The Blue Knight (1973), The Girl on the Late, Late Show (1974), A Matter of Wife... and Death (1975), Power (1980), The Hustler of Muscle Beach (1980), The Selling of Vince D'Angelo (1983), and The Ratings Game (1984). His character was often a police detective or lieutenant. He portrayed Marty Sinatra, Frank's father, in the four-part 1992 television miniseries Sinatra.
In 1980, Santos played Norman Davis in the short-lived (10 episodes) NBC comedy Me and Maxx.:675 In 1984, he portrayed Domingo Rivera on the ABC comedy a.k.a. Pablo, which was cancelled after six episodes.
Santos made guest appearances on television shows throughout his acting career, including Room 222, Toma, Barnaby Jones, The Streets of San Francisco, Kung Fu, Baretta, Lou Grant, Police Story (in 8 episodes), Black Sheep Squadron, Trapper John, M.D. , The Greatest American Hero, Hill Street Blues (in 3 episodes), The A-Team, Remington Steele, T.J. Hooker, Hardcastle and McCormick (in 10 episodes), MacGyver (in 2 episodes), Magnum P.I. (in 5 episodes), Murder, She Wrote (in 2 episodes), Miami Vice, Quantum Leap, Santa Barbara (in 5 episodes), Hunter (in 2 episodes), and NYPD Blue. From 1978 to 1980 he appeared on the CBS game show The Match Game, always sitting in the top left seat. He appeared in numerous episodes and was usually a comic foil to Brett Somers.
In 1958, Santos met and married Maria Montero while he was in Cuba.
|1964||Warm Nights and Hot Pleasures||Dick|
|Flesh and Lace||Julian shop owner|
|1966||Moonlighting Wives||Detective Hank|
|1967||The Tiger Makes Out||Man at Housing Authority||Uncredited|
|My Body Hungers||Truck Driver|
|1971||The Panic in Needle Park||Detective DiBono|
|The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight||Ezmo|
|1972||The Legend of Ngr Charley||Reverend|
|Shaft's Big Score!||Pascal|
|The Friends of Eddie Coyle||Artie Van|
|The Blue Knight||Sgt. Cruz Segovia||TV movie|
|The Don Is Dead||Joe Lucci|
|1974||Zandy's Bride||Frank Gallo|
|A Knife for the Ladies||Uncredited|
|1976||A Matter of Wife... And Death||Lieutenant Promuto||TV movie|
|1986||The Education of Allison Tate||Detective Duncan|
|1989||Beverly Hills Brats||Spyder|
|Sinatra||Marty Sinatra||5 episodes|
|1991||The Last Boy Scout||Bessalo|
|1992||Mo' Money||Lt. Raymond Walsh|
|1994||Trial by Jury||Johnny Verona|
|Art Deco Detective||Detective Guy Lean|
|1997||The Postman||Colonel Getty|
|1998||The Right Way|
|Hammerlock||Warden Stan Cromwell|
|The Man from Elysian Fields||Domenico|
|2009||Baseline||Bashir Abu Ahmed|
|2015||Chronic||Issac Sr.||(final film role)|
- 1973: Police Story Season 1 Episodes 12 - 13 "Countdown" — Detective Sally Pickel
- 1974–1980: The Rockford Files — Sergeant (later Lieutenant) Becker (recurring), also in 8 subsequent TV-movies (1994-1999)
- 1978: Black Sheep Squadron — CPO Miller Timmons (one episode)
- 1978-1980: The Match Game — Himself (multiple episodes)
- 1974: Kung Fu Season 3 Episode 52 "A Lamb to the Slaughter" — Señor Sanjero
- 1984: Remington Steele — Alf Nussman
- 1985–1986: Hardcastle and McCormick — Lt. Frank Harper
- 1986–1987: MacGyver — Jimmy 'The Eraser' Kendall (two episodes)
- 1986–1988: Magnum, P.I. — Police Lieutenant Nolan (five episodes)
- 1988: Miami Vice — Oscar Carrere (one episode)
- 1989: Quantum Leap — Tony La Palma (one episode)
- 1993: NYPD Blue — Angelo Marino (2 episodes)
- 2004: The Sopranos — Consigliere Angelo Garepe (seven episodes)
- Lentz, Harris M. III (2017). Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2016. McFarland. pp. 347–348. ISBN 9781476670317. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
- Weber, Bruce (March 18, 2016). "Joe Santos, a Mainstay of 'The Rockford Files,' Dies at 84" – via NYTimes.com.
- Weber, Bruce (March 18, 2016). "Joe Santos, a Mainstay of 'The Rockford Files,' Dies at 84". The New York Times. p. A22.
- 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.
- 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.