Joe Santos, best known for playing Lt. Dennis Becker, the frustrated LA policeman friend of James Garner’s private detective on “The Rockford Files”, has died on Friday, his agent, Alicia Beekman, confirmed. He was 84.
Santos’ son Perry said that his father suffered a heart attack at his Los Angeles home on Wednesday and was put on life support. He died in a Santa Monica hospital, he said, reported TMZ.
The Brooklyn native played Becker, who had a love-hate relationship with Garner’s Jim Rockford, on 112 episodes of “The Rockford Files”, which ran on NBC from 1974-80.
He was nominated for an Emmy for outstanding supporting actor in a drama series in 1979 and reprised the role for several telefilms.
His 40-year career was filled with roles as good cops on such series as “Police Story”, “Magnum, P.I” and “Hardcastle and McCormick” and on the 1973 miniseries “The Blue Knight” opposite William Holden, though he played a bad guy, Consigliere Angelo Garepe, on “The Sopranos”.
Santos also portrayed a detective in the Al Pacino starrer “The Panic in Needle Park” (1971) and a reporter in the Frank Sinatra film “The Detective” (1968). He also was in such films as “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight” (1971), Shaft’s “Big Score!” (1972), “The Friends of Eddie Coyle” (1973), “Blue Thunder” (1983), “The Last Boy Scout” (1991) and “Chronic” (2015).
Before he turned to acting, Santos, who had played football at Fordham University.