Hollywood has lost another one of its stars, as Joe Santos, the actor who played Lt. Dennis Becker on ‘The Rockford Files’ has died. The actor, also known for his roles on ‘Magnum, P.I.’ and ‘The Sopranos’ passed away on March 18 after suffering a heart attack. He was 84.
Fans of classic television are in mourning today, as Joe Santos has tragically passed away. The actor, who was nominated an Emmy for his work on The Rockford Files, was taken off of life support following a tragic heart attack. He was 84.
Joe suffered a heart attack while in his Los Angeles home on March 16, his son Perry told TMZ. The actor was then placed on life support, but he passed away on March 18 at a Santa Monica hospital. Along with his son, Joe leaves behind another son and a daughter.
Joe had a career that spanned over 40 years. He will be remembered mostly as Lt. Dennis Becker, the LAPD officer who assisted James Garner’s character, Jim Rockford. While speaking about his James, per The Hollywood Reporter, Joe explained, “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.”
Joe would also play Lt. Frank Harper in Hardcastle and McCormick and Lt. Nolan Page in Magnum, P.I., appearing opposite Tom Selleck, 71. Joe decided to play a role on the other side of the law when he took on the part of Angeleo Garepe, consigliere to the Carmine Lupertazzi crime family, on the modern classic television series, The Sopranos.
Born in Brooklyn, New York to Italian parents, Joe started out as a football player at Fordham University. He turned semi-pro, before giving up the gridiron for Hollywood, according to IMDB. While working a number of odd jobs, Joe pursued acting until his big break in 1971. Joe’s role in The Panic In Needle Park, which starred the then up-and-coming Al Pacino, 75, led to parts in The Blue Knight and ultimately, The Rockford Files.
His work wasn’t just limited to playing police officers on television, as he appeared in movies like The Postman, The Last Boy Scout, and Shaft’s Big Score!. Joe continued to work up until his final days, as he had a part in the 2015 movie, Chronic.
Our thoughts are with Joe’s family and friends during this period of loss.