‘Rockford Files’ star Joe Santos dies at 84

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NEW YORK — TV actor Joe Santos, best known for his role as police Sgt. Dennis Becker on the 1970s show “The Rockford Files,” has died, according to his agent, Alicia Beekman. He was 84.

Santos died Friday in Santa Monica, California, after a heart attack earlier in the week, according to Beekman.

Santos’ career spanned more than four decades, from a guest shot on “Naked City” in the early 1960s through a recurring role on “The Sopranos.”

He was best known as Lieutenant Becker, the pal and grudging helpmate of L.A. private eye Jim Rockford (James Garner) on NBC’s “The Rockford Files,” which aired from 1974 to 1980 and scored him an Emmy nomination.

The New York-born actor also had guest roles on such series as “Magnum, P.I.,” ”Miami Vice” and “Hardcastle & McCormick.”

Santos most recently was seen in the 2015 film “Chronic.”

Santos was a durable character actor who often played “good cop” roles, as in “The Blue Knight,” according to the Internet Movie Database.

He had a recurring role as Angelo Garepe in “The Sopranos” until his character was killed and tossed into the trunk of a car.

Born Joseph Minieri in Brooklyn, Santos was a football player at Fordham University and turned semi-pro before finding a new avenue in acting, IMDb said.

He struggled in show business and worked blue-collar jobs until his friend Al Pacino helped him get a role in the 1971 movie “Panic in Needle Park.”

He is survived by his wife and two children.

The Associated Press and CNN contributed to this report.