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Former cop turned actor Dennis Farina dies at 69

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
July 22nd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

His craggy face had seen a lot, and Hollywood responded. A former Chicago policeman, casting agents came to actor Dennis Farina to take roles that demanded a world-weary but worldly wise veteran of life. Farina has passed away at the age of 69 from a blood clot on the lung. He was 69.

LOS ANGELES, CA (catholic Online) - Farina once told an entertainment reporter, riding the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel in his hometown of Chicago, "I spend all day walking around this city. I always come back here. This is where I'm comfortable."

Farina had lent his talents to such major films as "Get Shorty," "Saving Private Ryan" and "Midnight Run." He arguably left his largest mark on television shows such as "Crime Story" and "Law & Order."

Farina maintained a home in Chicago in order to keep in close touch with family members and lifelong friends. Those who knew him intimately remember Farina as self-effacing and shy.

"I know guys who look at themselves on TV, in movies. Not me," he told the press in 2010. "I'm afraid if I ever did I'd just sit there saying, 'Why the hell did they ever hire me?'"

The youngest of the seven children, Farina grew up in the Old Town neighborhood, where he attended St. Michael Grammar School and St. Michael Central High.

After a hitch in the Army he went to work in the South Water produce market for a time. He joined the Chicago Police Department and started as a patrolman and became a detective four years later.

His acting career began in 1981 when director Michael Mann - in Chicago scouting locations for his film "Thief" - met Farina and gave him a bit part in the movie.

Circulating his picture to various Chicago agents led to his being cast in an episode on "Chicago Story," where he met John Mahoney, who convinced Farina to audition for a role in "A Prayer for My Daughter," at Steppenwolf.

 Farina subsequently appeared in "Streamers" at Columbia College; "The Time of Your Life" at the Goodman; "Class C Trial in Yokohama" at the Theater Building; in TV shows such as "Hunter," "Miami Vice" and "Remington Steele," and in such locally-filmed movies as "Code of Silence" and "The Naked Face."

"When I first got into acting, I never had any long-term goals, never had any plan," he once said in 1988. "I just thought it would be a good way to make some extra money."

In 1985, Farina was cast opposite William L. Petersen in "Manhunter" and set to start filming episodes of a new TV series titled "Crime Story."

Leaving law enforcement after 20 years, his career was one of enviably steady employment, with parts large and small in such films as "Get Shorty," "Snatch" and "Midnight Run" and dozens of TV appearances, including his role as host of "Unsolved Mysteries" and the high-profile part of natty Det. Joe Fontana on "Law & Order," from which he departed in 2006.


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