Reni Santoni, 'Seinfeld' and 'Dirty Harry' Actor, Dead at 81

Reni Santoni
Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Reni Santoni, best known for his roles in action dramas and the sitcom Seinfeld, has died. He was 81.

The actor died Saturday while in hospice care in Los Angeles after years of health struggles, according to multiplereports.

Born in New York City in 1939, Santoni began acting in off-Broadway productions before breaking through with his first leading role Carl Reiner's 1967 directorial debut, Enter Laughing

Santoni went on to play Detective Chico Gonzalez, the rookie partner to Clint Eastwood's Inspector Harry Callahan, in Dirty Harry (1971) and played Detective Tony Gonzalez in the 1986 action cop drama Cobra, opposite Sylvester Stallone.

Santoni also enjoyed a lengthy career on the small screen, with roles in hit shows including Lou Grant, Hawaii Five-O, Hill Street Blues, The Odd Couple and many others.

Santoni's most recent and high-profile performance came playing the unhygienic and opinionated restaurant owner Poppie on the hit sitcom Seinfeld -- a role he played in four episodes of the series.

Santoni is survived by his wife, Lisa James, and his son, Nick.

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