ENTERTAINMENT

Actor Reni Santoni, Poppie On 'Seinfeld,' Dead At 81

Santoni, who was perhaps best known as the hygiene-averse pizza maker on the classic sitcom, also starred in "Dirty Harry."
Reni Santoni, right, as Poppie, with Jerry Seinfeld and Suzanne Snyder on "Seinfeld."
Reni Santoni, right, as Poppie, with Jerry Seinfeld and Suzanne Snyder on "Seinfeld."

Actor Reni Santoni, perhaps best known as the unsanitary Poppie who tormented the germaphobic Jerry on “Seinfeld,” has died at age 81 in Los Angeles after months of hospice care, People reported.

“Those of you who knew him know how funny he was, what a terrific actor, improviser, performer,” TV writer and producer Tracy Newman wrote in announcing Santoni’s Aug. 1 death on Facebook. “So brilliant. I loved him very much and will miss him terribly. Another great one is gone.” 

The New York City-born Santoni got a leading film role in Carl Reiner’s “Enter Laughing” (1967) and notably played Chico Gonzalez, the rookie partner of Clint Eastwood’s Harry Callahan, in “Dirty Harry” (1971). He also appeared in another prominent cop actioner, “Cobra” (1986), with Sylvester Stallone.

On the small screen, Santoni collected credits on shows such as “Lou Grant,” “Hawaii Five-0,” “Hill Street Blues” and later, “Quantum Leap” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Santoni got to flex his comedic chops as Poppie, a hygiene-averse pizza chef, on the classic sitcom “Seinfeld.” He appeared in just a handful of episodes in 1994, 1995 and on the 1998 finale, but they were memorable.

Remember when Jerry, who was on a date with Audrey (Suzanne Snyder), saw Poppie exit the bathroom without washing his hands, knead pizza dough with said dirty hands and then serve them pizza? (See the clip above.)

Or when Poppie peed on Jerry’s couch?

Funny stuff to remember him by.

Santoni’s survivors include his son, Nick.