Actor Joe Santos, best-known for playing Lt. Becker on “The Rockford Files,” died today in a Santa Monica, Calif., hospital after suffering a heart attack earlier in the weeks. He was 84 years old.
Although he a long career in film and television, for most people he will always be Becker, the jaded police detective who grudgingly helped hard-luck private eye Jim Rockford (James Garner) week after week for eight seasons (in 112 episodes!) on the popular NBC series. Joe earned an Emmy nomination for outstanding supporting actor in a drama series in 1979.
While he also appeared in “Magnum P.I.,” “Police Story,” “Miami Vice” and Hardcastle & McCormick,” he demonstrated that he could also play a baddie, taking a recurring role on “The Sopranos” as Angelo Garepe.
Joe’s big-screen career was highlighted by the 1968 Frank Sinatra film “The Detective” and 1971’s “Panic in Needle Park” opposite Al Pacino, but he also appeared in “Blue Thunder” (1983) and “The Last Boy Scout” (1991) with Bruce Willis.
He first television appearance was a guest shot on “Naked City” in 1963, and he was last seen on the big screen in last year’s “Chronic.”
Joe had two sons and a daughter.