Dennis Farina

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Dennis Farina
Dennis Farina 2011 Shankbone.JPG
Farina at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival
Born February 29, 1944
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Died July 22, 2013(2013-07-22) (aged 69)
Scottsdale, Arizona, U.S.
Cause of death
Pulmonary embolism
Occupation Actor
Years active 1981–2013
Spouse(s) Patricia Farina (1970–1980) (divorced), 3 sons
Partner(s) Marianne Cahill[1]

Dennis Farina (February 29, 1944 – July 22, 2013) was an American actor of film and television and former Chicago police officer. He was a character actor, often typecast as a mobster or police officer. His most known film roles are those of mobster Jimmy Serrano in the comedy Midnight Run and Ray "Bones" Barboni in Get Shorty. He starred on television as Detective Joe Fontana on Law & Order. He also hosted and narrated a revived version of Unsolved Mysteries. His last major television role was in HBO's Luck, which premiered on January 29, 2012.

Early life[edit]

Farina was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Sicilian-American parents Joseph Farina, a doctor, and his wife Yolanda Donati.[2][3][4] His father was from Villalba, Sicily.[5] He had three brothers and three sisters.

Before becoming an actor, Farina served three years in the United States Army, followed by 18 years in the Chicago Police Department's burglary division, from 1967 to 1985.

Career in show business[edit]

Farina began working for director Michael Mann as a police consultant, which led Mann to cast him in a small role in the 1981 film Thief. Farina moonlighted as an actor in Chicago theater before Mann chose him for his Crime Story series. Farina played mobster Albert Lombard in Michael Mann's other television show, Miami Vice.

Two of his best known movie characters were Jimmy Serrano, the mob boss from Midnight Run, and Ray "Bones" Barboni, a rival criminal to Chili Palmer in Get Shorty. He also played FBI Agent Jack Crawford in the first Hannibal Lecter crime film, Michael Mann's Manhunter.

Other movies include Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan (as Lieutenant Colonel Walter Anderson), Striking Distance, Another Stakeout, Little Big League, Snatch, The Mod Squad, Big Trouble and Out of Sight. He starred with Bette Midler in the romantic comedy That Old Feeling.

Farina had a flair for comedy. He won an American Comedy Award for his performance in Get Shorty and starred in a television sitcom, In-Laws, from 2002 until 2003. He had a comic role opposite Ed Harris and Helen Hunt in the HBO production of Empire Falls in 2005 and opposite Alan Rickman in 2008's Bottle Shock.

In early 2005, Farina provided the voice of aging boxer-turned-superhero Wildcat on Justice League Unlimited.

The producers of the television series Law & Order hired Farina as Det. Joe Fontana after retiring Jerry Orbach's character Lennie Briscoe. Farina stayed for two years, but his character was not as popular as Orbach's had been. In May 2006, it was announced Farina was leaving Law & Order for other projects, including 2007's You Kill Me opposite Ben Kingsley and 2008's What Happens in Vegas with Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher.

His role of Detective Lt. Mike Torello on Crime Story was as a Chicago police officer, who was assigned to the U.S. Justice Department. Farina's Law & Order character, Joe Fontana, worked for Chicago Homicide before his transfer to the NYPD. Fontana shared a number of other characteristics with the actor who played him; they came from the same Chicago neighborhood, attended the same parochial school, and had the same tastes in clothes and music and were fans of the Chicago Cubs.

In October 2008, Farina became the new host of Unsolved Mysteries when it returned to television with a new five-season, 175-episode run on Spike TV. Farina replaced Robert Stack, who had hosted the series for its entire original 15-year run before his death in 2003. This version featured re-edited segments from previous incarnations on NBC, CBS, and Lifetime (all originally hosted by Stack).[6]

Farina played the title role in a 2011 independent film, The Last Rites of Joe May, written and directed by Joe Maggio, shot on location in Chicago.

He co-starred in the 2012 HBO horse-race gambling series Luck, with Dustin Hoffman, directed by Michael Mann. He also had a recurring guest role in 2013 in the television comedy series New Girl, though his character was killed off prior to the actor's death.

Personal life[edit]

Farina in May 2007

Farina was married to Patricia Farina from 1970 until their divorce in 1980. They have three sons together: Dennis Jr, Michael and Joseph. His youngest son, Joseph, is also an actor. He has two granddaughters, Brianna and Olivia, and four grandsons: Michael, Tyler, Matthew and Eric. He lived with his longtime girlfriend Marianne Cahill[7] in Arizona.

Farina was a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan and played in this role in a 1988 revival of the successful 1977 Organic Theater Company stage play The Bleacher Bums, which was written by and starred fellow Chicago actors Joe Mantegna and Dennis Franz.

Arrest[edit]

Farina was arrested on May 11, 2008, for carrying a loaded .22 caliber pistol through Los Angeles International Airport security. Farina was taken to the Los Angeles Police Department's Pacific Division and booked on suspicion of carrying a concealed weapon, and bail was set at $25,000. He claimed he had simply forgotten the weapon was still in his briefcase and had never intended to take it on a plane. After police determined the weapon was unregistered, the charges were upgraded to a felony and bail was increased to $35,000.[8]

On July 17, 2008, after reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors, Farina pleaded no contest and was sentenced to two years' probation.[9]

Death[edit]

Farina died on July 22, 2013, in a hospital in Scottsdale, Arizona after suffering a pulmonary embolism.[10][11] Farina is buried at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Hillside, Illinois.

Filmography[edit]

Film
Year Film Role Notes
1981 Thief Carl
1985 Code of Silence Dorato
1986 Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling Freddy
1986 Manhunter Jack Crawford
1988 Midnight Run Jimmy Serrano
1990 Men of Respect Bankie Como
1992 We're Talking Serious Money Sal
1992 Mac Mr. Stunder
1992 Street Crimes Brian
1993 Another Stakeout Brian O'Hara
1993 Romeo Is Bleeding Nick Gazzara Uncredited
1993 Striking Distance Capt. Nick Detillo
1994 Little Big League George O'Farrell
1995 Get Shorty Ray "Bones" Barboni
1996 Eddie Coach John Bailey
1997 That Old Feeling Dan De Mora
1998 Out of Sight Marshall Sisco
1998 Saving Private Ryan Lt. Col. Walter Anderson
1999 The Mod Squad Capt. Adam Greer
2000 Reindeer Games Jack Bangs
2000 Preston Tylk Dick Muller
2000 Snatch Abraham "Avi" Denovitz
2001 Sidewalks of New York Carpo
2002 Big Trouble Henry Desalvo
2002 Stealing Harvard Mr. Warner
2004 Paparazzi Det. Burton
2004 Scrambled Eggs Dr. Carlson Short film
2007 You Kill Me Edward O'Leary
2007 Purple Violets Gilmore
2007 National Lampoon's Bag Boy Marty Engstrom
2008 The Grand L.B.J. Deuce Fairbanks
2008 Bottle Shock Maurice
2008 What Happens in Vegas Banger
2010 Knucklehead Memphis Earl
2011 Last Rites of Joe May Joe May
2014 Authors Anonymous John K. Butzin Completed

Television[edit]

Television
Year Title Role Notes
1983 Through Naked Eyes Patrolman TV film
1984 Hard Knox April TV film
1984–1989 Miami Vice Albert Lombard 3 episodes
1985 American Playhouse Supervisor Episode: "The Killing Floor"
1985 Hardcastle and McCormick Ed Coley Episode: "Undercover McCormick"
1985 Hunter Vic Terranova Episode: "The Snow Queen" 1 & 2
1985 Remington Steele Cop Episode: "Steele Trying"
1985 Final Jeopardy Policeman #2 TV film
1986 The Birthday Boy TV film
1986 Jack and Mike Episode: Pilot
1986 Lady Blue Joe Kaufman Episode: "Sylvie"
1986 Triplecross Ernie (Veteran Cop) TV film
1986–1988 Crime Story Lt. Mike Torello 44 episodes
1987 Six Against the Rock Robert Stroud TV film
1988 Open Admissions Fred TV film
1989 China Beach Lt. Col. Edward Edward Vincent Episode: "All About E.E.V."
1989 The Case of the Hillside Stranglers Angelo Buono, Jr. TV film
1990 Blind Faith Prosecutor Kelly TV film
1990 People Like Us Elias Renthall TV film
1991 Perfect Crimes Armand Zaro TV film
1992 Drug Wars: The Cocaine Cartel Mike Cerone TV film
1992 Cruel Doubt Tom Bereton Miniseries
1992 Tales from the Crypt Antoine Episode: "Werewolf Concerto"
1993 The Disappearance of Nora Denton TV film
1993 A Stranger in the Mirror TV film
1994 One Woman's Courage Craig McKenna TV film
1994 The Corpse Had a Familiar Face Det. Harry Lindstrom TV film
1995 Out of Annie's Past Charlie Ingle TV film
1995 Bonanza: Under Attack Charley Siringo TV film
1997 Bella Mafia Don Roberto Luciano TV film
1998 Buddy Faro Buddy Faro 13 episodes
2002–2003 In-Laws Victor Pellet 15 episodes
2004–2006 Law & Order Det. Joe Fontana 46 episodes
2005 Justice League Unlimited Wildcat (voice) Episode: "The Cat and the Canary"
2005 Empire Falls Walt Comeau Miniseries
2008–2010 Unsolved Mysteries Host/narrator Lifetime
2011–2012 Luck Gus Demitriou HBO
2012 New Girl Walt Miller 2 episodes
2012 Doc McStuffins Riggo Episode: "Stuck Up"
2013 The Looney Tunes Show Frank Russo (voice) Cartoon Network
2014 Family Guy Himself, final role Episode: The Most Interesting Man in the World

References[edit]

External links[edit]