Dennis Farina, the former Chicago cop turned film and TV actor best known for his role as wise-cracking detective Joe Fontana on the hit NBC police drama "Law & Order," died in Scottsdale, Arizona, on Monday, his publicist said. He was 69. By Eric Kelsey.
Farina, who parlayed his experience as a police officer, Chicago-accented baritone and straight talking demeanor into a series of tough-guy roles in Hollywood, died after suffering a blood clot in his lung, his publicist Lori De Waal said.
“I was stunned and saddened to hear about Dennis’ unexpected passing this morning,” Dick Wolf, executive producer of “Law & Order,” said in a written statement.
“The ‘Law & Order’ family extends sympathy and condolences to his family. He was a great guy.”
The Chicago-born Farina earned his first credited role in a bit part in the 1981 Michael Mann film “Thief” and would go on to play mobsters Jimmy Serrano in 1988 comedy “Midnight Run” and Ray “Bones” Barboni in 1995 comedy “Get Shorty.”
He gained wider attention on NBC TV series “Crime Story” portraying Lt. Mike Torello, the head of Chicago Police Department’s organized crime unit, during the show’s two season run between 1986 and 1988.
Farina’s role on “Law & Order” between 2004 and 2006 also played on the actor’s law enforcement background, as Fontana landed in the New York Police Department via Chicago.
The actor’s final starring role was in the short-lived HBO TV mob and horse racing series “Luck” opposite Dustin Hoffman. The critically acclaimed series was canceled after its first season due to the death of three horses during production.
Farina also played small parts in the 1998 film “Out of Sight,” Steven Spielberg’s 1998 Oscar-winning World War Two epic “Saving Private Ryan” and the current Fox TV comedy “New Girl.”
Farina is survived by three sons, six grandchildren and his partner of 35 years, Marianne Cahill. DM
Photo: Actor Dennis Farina arrives at the Hollywood premiere of the HBO series “Luck” in Los Angeles, California January 25, 2012. REUTERS/Gus Ruelas
Support DAILY MAVERICK & get FREE UBER vouchers every month
An increasingly rare commodity, quality independent journalism costs money, though not nearly as much as its absence can cost global community. No country can live and prosper without truth - that's why it matters.
Every Daily Maverick article and every Scorpio exposé is proof of our dedication to this unshakeable mission. Investing in our news media is by far the most effective investment into South Africa's future.
You can support Independent and Investigative journalism by joining Maverick Insider. If you contribute R150 or more per month you will receive R100 back in UBER vouchers. EVERY MONTH until October 2019.
So, if you'd like to help and do something meaningful for yourself and your country, then sign up to become a Maverick Insider. Together we can Defend Truth.
Sylvester Stallone speaks the way he does due to a partial paralysis of the face that occurred during his birth.