Dennis Farina: American actor (born: 1944 - died: 2013) | Biography
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Dennis Farina
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American actor
Was Actor Police officer Television actor Film actor Film producer
From United States of America
Field Film, TV, Stage & Radio Law
Gender male
Birth 29 February 1944, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Death 22 July 2013, Scottsdale, Maricopa County, Arizona, USA (aged 69 years)
Star sign Pisces
The details (from wikipedia)


Dennis Farina (February 29, 1944 – July 22, 2013) was an American film and television actor, TV presenter, narrator and former Chicago police officer. He was a character actor, often typecast as a mobster or police officer. He is known for roles such as mobster Jimmy Serrano in the comedy Midnight Run, Ray "Bones" Barboni in Get Shorty and Cousin Avi in Snatch. He starred on television as Lieutenant Mike Torello on Crime Story and as NYPD Detective Joe Fontana on Law & Order. From 2008–2010, he hosted and narrated the television program Unsolved Mysteries on Spike TV. His last major television role was in HBO's Luck, which premiered on January 29, 2012.

Early life

Farina was born on a Leap Day (February 29, 1944) in Chicago's Old Town neighborhood, the fourth son and youngest of the seven children of Joseph and Yolanda Farina. Farina's father, who was from Villalba, Sicily, was a Chicago-area doctor, and his mother a homemaker. The Farinas raised their children in a North Avenue home in Old Town, a working-class neighborhood with a broad ethnic mixture, with Italians and Germans being the two predominant ethnicities.

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

Career in show business

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. He moonlighted as an actor in Chicago-based films (like Code of Silence, a 1985 Chuck Norris film) and theater before Mann chose him for his Crime Story series, which aired on NBC from 1986 to 1988. Farina played mobster Albert Lombard in Mann's previous hit television show, Miami Vice. He later starred as the title character in Buddy Faro, a short-lived 1998 private-detective series on CBS.

Sticking to the stereotype roles in which he had frequently been cast, Farina played Jimmy Serrano, the mob boss from Midnight Run, and Ray "Bones" Barboni, a rival criminal to Chili Palmer in Get Shorty. Farina also played FBI Agent Jack Crawford in the first Hannibal Lecter crime film, Michael Mann's Manhunter.

Other movies he was cast in include Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan, Striking Distance, Another Stakeout, Snatch, The Mod Squad, Reindeer Games, Men of Respect, Big Trouble and Out of Sight. He played a baseball manager in Little Big League and a nemesis basketball coach in Eddie.

In a leading-man role and a departure from his usual parts, he co-starred in 1997 with Bette Midler in a romantic comedy, That Old Feeling, directed by Carl Reiner.

In 1998's Saving Private Ryan, he played the battalion commander who advises Capt. John Miller (Tom Hanks) of the mission which forms the basis of the film's plot.

Farina won an American Comedy Award for his performance in Get Shorty and starred in a television sitcom, In-Laws, from 2002 until 2003. He appeared in the 2002 Stealing Harvard, a comedy in which he played a tough-talking, overprotective father-in-law. He also had a comic role opposite Ed Harris and Helen Hunt in the HBO production of Empire Falls in 2005 and opposite Alan Rickman in the 2008 Bottle Shock.

Working as a voice-actor beginning in early 2005, he provided the voice of aging boxer-turned-superhero Wildcat on Justice League Unlimited. In early 2013, he voiced the father of Daffy Duck's girlfriend on The Looney Tunes Show, and played himself in an April 13, 2014, episode of the animated series Family Guy called "The Most Interesting Man in the World," aired posthumously, one of his final acting roles.

In 2004, the producers of the television series Law & Order hired him as Detective Joe Fontana; following the departure of longtime cast member Jerry Orbach. Farina stayed on the show for two seasons. In May 2006, it was announced he was leaving Law & Order for other projects, including the 2007 You Kill Me opposite Ben Kingsley and the 2008 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, Detective 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.

He appeared in two television network miniseries' based on Joe McGinniss's true-crime books, Blind Faith (1990) and Cruel Doubt (1992). He made a rare western, portraying legendary lawman Charlie Siringo in a 1995 television movie, Bonanza: Under Attack, a followup to the hit 1960s series.

In October 2008, he 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 prior 15-year run. This version featured re-edited segments from previous incarnations on NBC, CBS, and Lifetime.

He 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 was among the stars of a 2014 release, Authors Anonymous, playing a wanna-be novelist with a fantasy of becoming another Tom Clancy.

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

Farina's last film role was as an aging Italian playboy in a film version of the Off-Broadway musical Lucky Stiff co-starring Dominic Marsh, Nikki M. James, and Jason Alexander. The film, released posthumously in 2014, was dedicated to his memory.

Personal life

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

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

Farina was arrested on May 11, 2008, for carrying a loaded .22-caliber pistol through Los Angeles International Airport security. He was taken to the Los Angeles Police Department's Pacific Division and booked on suspicion of carrying a concealed weapon, bail being 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. After reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors, he pleaded no contest and was sentenced to two years' probation on July 17, 2008.


He died on July 22, 2013, in a Scottsdale, Arizona hospital from complications of lung cancer, including a pulmonary embolism. His body was buried at Mount Carmel Cemetery at Hillside, Illinois.

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 24 Mar 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is Dennis Farina's full name?
A: Dennis Farina's full name is Dennis Farina.
Q: When and where was Dennis Farina born?
A: Dennis Farina was born on February 29, 1944, in Chicago, Illinois, United States.
Q: What was Dennis Farina's profession?
A: Dennis Farina was an American actor and former police officer.
Q: What are some notable movies and TV shows that Dennis Farina appeared in?
A: Some notable movies and TV shows that Dennis Farina appeared in include "Midnight Run," "Get Shorty," "Snatch," "Law & Order," and "Crime Story."
Q: When did Dennis Farina pass away?
A: Dennis Farina passed away on July 22, 2013, in Scottsdale, Arizona, United States.
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