Reni Santoni Dead: Actor who played Poppie the pizza chef on Seinfeld and starred in Dirty Harry dies at 81

ACTOR Reni Santoni died at the age of 81 on Saturday.

Fans remembered the late actor on social media as "terrific" and for playing "cool" characters following his passing.

He was best known for his work as Clint Eastwood's maverick detective Inspector Chico Gonzalez in the 1971 film Dirty Harry and his role as Poppie the pizza chef on four episodes of Seinfeld.

TV writer-producer and musician Tracy Newman, who was a friend of the late actor, told The Hollywood Reporter that he died in hospice care in Los Angeles after years of health problems, which included cancer.

Seinfeld fans will remember Reni's character as the unsanitary pizza guy who had bladder control issues.

He also portrayed Mexican-Irish revolutionary Max in the 1969 film Guns of the Magnificent Seven and Sylvester Stallone's partner Sergeant Tony Gonzales in 1986's Cobra.

On the TV side, Reni had a recurring role as one of Arthur Hill's assistants Danny Paterno in Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law from 1973-1974.

Some of Reni's other notable film appearances include Carl Reiner's semi-autobiographical film Enter Laughing (1967) as David Kolowitz, as well as roles in Anzio (1968), The Student Nurses (1970), I Never Promised You a Rose Garden (1977), Bad Boys (1983), Brewster's Millions (1985), Rain Man (1988), The Package (1989) and Gang Warz (2004).

The actor later reunited with Carl in the 1982 film Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid.

He worked alongside his longtime romantic partner actress-turned-director Betty Thomas in the 1992 film Only You, 1995's The Brady Bunch Movie, the 1996 HBO made-for-television film The Late Shift, Howard Stern's film 1997 Private Parts, 1998's Doctor Dolittle and the Sandra Bullock-led 2000 drama 28 Days.

Prior to his relationship with Betty, Reni was married to actress and stage director Lisa James.

The New York City native wrote the off-Broadway play Raisin' Hell in the Son, which premiered in 1962.

Reni also appeared on stage in The Mad Show alongside David Steinberg, Jo Anne Worley and Linda Lavin.

Before making it as a movie star, Reni appeared in the TV shows East Side/West Side, The Trials of O'Brien and Hawk.

Reni's other television appearance included roles on The Odd Couple, The Rockford Files, Hill Street Blues, Miami Vice, Murder, She Wrote, NYPD Blue and Murder One.

He is survived by his only son, Nick.

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