Character actor Reni Santoni, who played Poppie the restaurant owner on Seinfeld, has died at the age of 81, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Santoni passed away Saturday while in hospice care in Los Angeles following years of health problems that included cancer.
Born in New York City, Santoni gained fame with film roles like Dirty Harry, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid and Cobra. He also notched TV credits including Hill Street Blues, Moonlighting, Miami Vice and Murder, She Wrote. But he was perhaps best known for his four appearances as Poppie on Seinfeld, beginning with 1994’s “The Pie.”
In that Season 5 installment, Poppie ran a popular Italian restaurant, but he disgusted Jerry by neglecting to wash his hands after using the bathroom. Santoni returned as Poppie the following season in two episodes: “The Couch,” in which Poppie teams up with Kramer to plan a “make your own pie” pizza business and ruins Jerry’s couch; and “The Doorman.” He also reprised the role of Poppie in the Seinfeld series finale, which saw many of Jerry and the gang’s old enemies return to testify against them in court.
After Seinfeld, Santoni made guest appearances on shows like Grey’s Anatomy and CSI. His final TV credit was a 2012 episode of Franklin & Bash.