Tuned In

Dennis Farina Dies at Age 69

Plenty of actors invest time doing research for their roles, but most of them had nothing on ex-cop-turned-actor Dennis Farina.

  • Share
  • Read Later
Jessica Burstein / NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Dennis Farina as Detective Joe Fontana on 'Law & Order' on Oct. 6, 2004

Plenty of actors invest time doing research for their roles, but most of them had nothing on Dennis Farina. Farina, who died July 22 of a blood clot in his lung, spent nearly two decades as a Chicago cop, a career that led him to work as a consultant for director Michael Mann. Mann saw something in the raspy-voiced burglary cop, giving him a small part in his movie Thief in 1981, then casting him as star of his hard-boiled TV drama Crime Story.

Farina became a fixture in movies and TV, playing cops, mobsters, and connected guys in classics from Midnight Run to Get Shorty to Law and Order. There’s no substitute for experience; Farina’s Chi-Town voice, his creased face, his tough bearing suggested he’d been around and seen action. As a cop, he could make make threats that were not strictly legal and make them sound credible (see video, below); as a crook, he could promise to end a rival and make it sound almost charming. He was the thespian equivalent of a weathered silver dollar or a V-8 getaway car; a durable classic they don’t make anymore.

Yet Farina was a real actor, not jut a lucky beneficiary of casting. He could swear like a poet but also do comedy and play the nice guy. Late in his career, he held his own with Dustin Hoffman as a mobster’s empathetic confidante in HBO’s Luck, and one of his last roles was a comic turn in Fox’s sitcom New Girl. The law made him, and his most memorable roles brought the law, and law-breakers, alive. That he was taken at age 69 was a crime. RIP.

6 comments
therealdude
therealdude

He was a fine actor. I pray for his family's loss. He will be missed.

Law1955
Law1955

My favorite movie was Striking Distance I think by far that was one of his best.

chiquelitz
chiquelitz like.author.displayName 1 Like

I could not believe when I saw the obituary on Dennis Farina this morning. He was always one of my favorite actors.   God Bless his family,,,what a terrible loss.  My husband died on Thanksgiving 2012 at the age of 66....a disabled Veteran,  Special Forces Medic.  Jim loved Dennis Farina's work.  .  

ShannonP
ShannonP

A sad loss because he was one of hollyweirds better actors and in a pool that is becoming smaller and smaller every year it is a loss that hollyweird can not really afford! But many in hollyweird could take a few lessons from Farina! 1st...stay out of politics, YOU have no business there! 2ndly give back to AMERICA who supports you and makes you as successful as you are because there are millions here who are homeless & starving too. 3rdly have some TALENT; which the majority of you in hollyweird are severly lacking (with special note to Kristen Stewart who should really take some acting lessons and learn what an emotion is)!!!

cjh2nd
cjh2nd

@ShannonP

your post is depressing. it could be a case study in why most of the world thinks americans are intellectually lacking

Ivy_B
Ivy_B like.author.displayName 1 Like

I loved Crime Story and Farina was a big part of it. RIP