Reni Santoni was born on April 21st 1939 in New York City. Growing up he briefly played professional baseball and originally planned on being a sports journalist but then began his career in off-Broadway theatre playing oddball/strange characters before becoming a comedy writer. He moved in front of the camera in the early 1960s with a role in Strangers in the City where he was billed as Reni Sands.
It would be another two years before Santoni would get a significant role, as Felipe Valdes in the television show East Side/West Side; this would be followed up with an uncredited appearance as “Junkie Selling Radio” in The Pawnbroker. This was followed up with roles in The Trials of O’Brien, Look Up and Live, and as Nick Weller in the television series Hawk.
In the years that followed Santoni found himself all over the big and small screen with roles in Enter Laughing, A Great Big Thing, The Battle for Anzio, Guns of the Magnificent Seven, and Love, American Style.
As the 1970’s rolled in Santoni became even busier with roles in The Student Nurses, The Odd Couple, The Psychiatrist, and Bearcats! In 1971 Santoni was cast as Inspector “Chico” González in Dirty Harry opposite Clint Eastwood as Harry Callahan. Gonzalez was Callahan’s partner – a newcomer who graduated from San Jose state. He has a wife. Harry does not treat him well at first, but they ended up getting along. Gonzalez was wounded when Scorpio shot him with a machine gun. While recovering, Gonzalez decides to quit the police force and become a teacher. In Magnum Force, he is mentioned by Harry and is said to have become a teacher.
Following Dirty Harry, Santoni appeared in The F.B.I., Indict and Convict, Owen Marshall – Counselor at Law, Barnaby Jones, Panic on the 5:22, The Rookies, Jigsaw John, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, Lou Grant, Hawaii Five-O, They Went That-A-Way & That-A-Way, The Rockford Files, and Charlie’s Angels.
As the 80’s arrived Santoni would again achieve success on the big and small screen with roles in CHiPS, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, Bad Boys, and Lottery!
In 1983 Santoni was cast as Lt. Nick Rivera in Manimal; this was followed up with Scarecrow and Mrs. King, Brewster’s Millions, Radioactive Dreams, 227, and Hardcastle and McCormick.
In 1986 Santoni starred as Detective Tony Gonzales opposite Sylvester Stallone in Cobra, as well as Hill Street Blues, Sanchez of Bel Air, Moonlighting, Miami Vice, Rain man, Murphy’s Law, Midnight Caller, Quantum Leap, Dream On, The New WKRP in Cincinnati, Groundhog Day, The Brady Bunch Movie, Murder She Wrote, Renegade, Walker Texas Ranger, Private Parts, NYPD Blue, Dangerous Minds, Murder One, Murder One: Diary of a Serial Killer and Seinfeld.
As the new Millennium arrived so did more work, so appearances for Santoni soon racked up in The Tony Danza Show, Jessie,Love Boat: The Next Wave, V.I.P., 28 Days, Judging Amy, Dr. Dolittle, Dr. Dolittle 2, Kingpin, Gang Warz, Grey’s Anatomy, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, and Four Kings.
Santioni’s last role to date was as Judge Maurice Vincent in “Voir Dire” a 2012 episode Franklin & Bash.
2 thoughts on “Reni Santoni”
Hi! My name is Nick Santoni and this is my dad!! And it was very cool coming across this while looking for the name of a specific episode my dad had done, so I spontaneously decided that I’d “add” a little to this as soon of an update and see if anybody ever sees it and might be able to help me with something that I’ll get to as o wrap this up beat the end. Anyway, Reni (or dad, to me) will turn 82 in April. I am writing this on 1/13/20… Unfortunately, I’m sorry to report that my father’s health of late has been a real concern for all of us who are close to him… And
over the last 6 years or so it has dipped, but what we specifically learned only a couple of months ago has been the toughest challenge yet… So, whoever reads this will be some of the first to know (besides close friends and family) that we learned my father has cancer. It was discovered after a chest x-ray picked up as couple of unusual “masses” and then confirmed thru a ct-scan that was performed in early December. And what made it even more of a shock and surprise was. That we had taken him into the Dr bc we thought he just had as common virus. So to suddenly go from what we originally thought was only a bad cold and a case of laryngitis, to learning that he has 2 tumors– one on his throat next to his vocal cords, and another on his left lung seemed e some sort of cruel joke or be mistake. After all, he had had a chest x-Ray done a year previously and nothing of this nature was on our radar. We hoped they were benign b and not serious but our worst fears were confirmed and we discovered they are malignant. Presently, we are exploring treatment options and as a matter of fact, my dad and modern medicine will water their first battle against the big “C” this week with a treatment that’s called “immunotherapy”. Then we’ll see if he responds positively to it… Obviously, we hope and pray that the tumors can be shrunken down so that he can stick around longer–to see the dodgers win as title again for the first time since 1988 and spend some more time with me and hopefully some grandkids that I’ve yet to give him or either of my parents….;) I am an only-child and I just turned 40 last year…so, I’m no spring chicken anymore, that’s for sure. But, I feel like he’s still got time and that now isn’t going to be the time he”checks out” and heads to, “the afterlife”. Like 8 said, here’s still got unfinished business and things he had to see still before that day arrives;) I’m just happy that my dad and I have overcome a lot and are closer now than we ever were. I’m truly blessed to have been able to put our “Rocky times” behind us (the years when I was young and reckless)… Err, or maybe I’m still a lil reckless, but at least our relationship hasn’t been affected and we don’t butt heads or argue like we did when I was a teenager and in my early 20’s doing stupid sh#t and giving birth of my parents headaches with poor decision-making and doing a lot 8f stupid things that young people tend to do (partying, hanging out with the wrong people). So to be do close now had been a godsend:)
As for the severity of it–The doctors have said that if my father didn’t want to pursue treatment of any kind that he would be looking at roughly 6 months left to live, but they (the oncologist and medical team) seem optimistic he’ll respond to the treatment and be given an “extension”. The full scope of treatment options aren’t in the table bc my dad’s strength and overall physical position is such that chemo isn’t an option since it’s so taxing on the body and he doesn’t really walk these days so exercise and activity in general is very minimal. But As long as he is not suffering, or in any sort of agonizing pain I obviously want to see my dad tell more of his silly jokes and hear more of the stories he has to share about the roles he okayed over the years in what amounted to over 100+appearances in various tv shows and films during a career that spanned almost 50 years. A career that had garnered recognition on this website that I stumbled across and is entitled–“Heroes of Cult”, which might be over if my favorites. And while here, I decided I’d insert some current info… Even though it’s not as cheery and great as if like it to be. But also maybe I can get some help finding some older material he was a part of before I was born (specifically any roles he had before 1980). I’ve been reasonably successful finding many of the more obscure and earlier roles he had going to different sites online and using his filmography from IMDb. He can’t believe what I’ve been able to dig up and show him, and In many cases it’s the first time hes seen it since the year it originally aired on TV or came out in theatres so in dinner cases it’s been 40 or 50 years since he had seen something;) There are two specific roles I’ve been wanting to track down the most thought, but I haven’t had any luck yet… One is his episode of “The Psychiatrist” from the really 70’s. And the other is a film he did in the 60’s soon after he was in “Enter Laughing” entitled “A Great Big Thing”. So, If anybody knows how to get a hold of these please email me– firstname.lastname@example.org
Any help you could offer that helps me locate them to view and to preferably purchase would be greatly appreciated!!
In the meantime I pray my dad’s health improves:)
A big thanks to whomever worked on creating and compiling this neat bio on him here with links to view some of his more better known roles included. He’ll get a kick out of this when I read it and show it to him.
My dad–A hero of cult? I love it!
Grateful, Nick Santoni (Reni’s Son)