Tuesday, August 4, 2020

"Dirty Harry" Actor Reni Santoni 1939-2020 Memorial Video - Extended Version

Reni Santoni (April 21, 1939 – August 1, 2020) was an American film, television and voice actor. He was noted for playing Poppie on the television sitcom Seinfeld. He also played Chico González in Dirty Harry.

Early life

Santoni was born in New York City on April 21, 1939. His family was of French (Corsican) and Spanish descent. He began his career in Off-Broadway theatre, writing the play Raisin' Hell in the Son which premiered in 1962.


Santoni's first significant film role was an uncredited appearance in the 1964 film The Pawnbroker (starring Rod Steiger), in which he played a junkie trying to sell a radio to the title character (using anti-Semitic slurs to no effect).

His first leading role was as a young actor in Enter Laughing

He went on to play Inspector "Chico" González in the 1971 film Dirty Harry. His character uttered the memorable phrase, "No wonder they call him Dirty Harry; [he] always gets the shit end of the stick." 

Other film roles included Carl Reiner's comedic homage to the film noir genre, Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982), as prison official Ramon Herrera in Bad Boys (1983), and as Detective Tony Gonzales in the action film Cobra (1986). He featured in the short-lived series Sanchez of Bel Air and Manimal, in which he played Nick Rivera.

Santoni made guest appearances on television shows such as Barnaby Jones, Lou Grant, Hawaii Five-O, Hardcastle and McCormick, Hill Street Blues, The Odd Couple and Midnight Caller. In 1973, Santoni played a junior partner on Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law. His most notable later role was as "Poppie," the bombastic, antiabortion, neurotic, and very unhygienic restaurateur in Seinfeld.

Personal life

Santoni was married to Lisa James. He subsequently had a long-term relationship with actress and director Betty Thomas, and a son named Nick.

Santoni died on August 1, 2020, at a hospice in Los Angeles at the age of 81. He had several health issues during his last years, including battling cancer.

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