Dennis Farina, real officer turned TV cop, dies at 69

2013-07-23T00:00:00Z Dennis Farina, real officer turned TV cop, dies at 69The Associated Press The Associated Press
July 23, 2013 12:00 am  • 

NEW YORK - Dennis Farina, a one-time Chicago cop who as a popular character actor played a TV cop on "Law & Order" during his wide-ranging career, has died.

He died Monday morning in a Scottsdale hospital after suffering a blood clot in his lung, according to his publicist, Lori De Waal. He was 69.

For three decades, Farina was an actor who displayed remarkable dexterity, charm and toughness, making effective use of his craggy face, husky frame, ivory smile and ample mustache.

He could be as dapper as Fred Astaire and as full of threat as Clint Eastwood. His gift has been described as wry, tough-guy panache, and audiences loved him for it.

"Sometimes you can take those dramatic roles and maybe interject a little humor into them, and I think the reverse also works," Farina said in a 2007 interview with The Associated Press. "One of the funny things in life to me is a guy who takes himself very seriously."

Farina's many films include "Saving Private Ryan," (1998), "Out Of Sight" (1998), "Midnight Run" (1988), "Manhunter" (1986), and his breakout and perhaps most beloved film, "Get Shorty" (1995), a comedic romp where he played a Miami mob boss.

He recently completed shooting a comedy film, "Lucky Stiff."

Among his numerous TV roles was Detective Joe Fontana on "Law & Order" during the 2004-06 seasons, replacing longtime cast member Jerry Orbach in the ensemble.

"Law & Order" executive producer Dick Wolf said he was "stunned and saddened to hear about Dennis' unexpected passing... . The 'Law & Order' family extends sympathy and condolences to his family."

Also on TV, Farina was a regular in the star-studded though short-lived 2011-12 HBO horse-track drama "Luck."

He starred in the 1980s cult favorite "Crime Story," and his stylish private-eye drama "Buddy Faro" (1998) was warmly received if little-watched.

Last season he guest-starred on the Fox comedy "New Girl."

A veteran of the Chicago theater, Farina appeared in Joseph Mantegna's "Bleacher Bums" and "Streamers," directed by Terry Kinney, among other productions.

Born on Feb. 29, 1944, Farina was raised in a working-class neighborhood of Chicago, the seventh child of Italian immigrants.

After three years in the U.S. Army, he served with the Chicago Police Department for 18 years.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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