Actor Dennis Farina has died in a hospital in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was 69 and his publicist says the cause of death was a pulmonary embolism. Born and raised in Chicago, he spent three years in the U.S. Army before joining the Chicago Police Department. He spent 18 years as a tough Chicago cop, becoming a detective.
In the early 1980s he was hired by director Michael Mann as a police consultant and that led to a small role in the 1981 film Thief. In 1985 he portrayed a gruff Chicago cop in the Chuck Norris film Code of Silence (probably the best acting Norris ever did).
Dennis Farina was best known for his work on television, in Mann’s critically acclaimed series Crime Story and for two seasons on the hit show Law & Order. Cast to replace Jerry Orbach, Farina himself left the show after two seasons to pursue other projects. He was thought of as an excellent replacement for Orbach, who had left the show due to the illness that ultimately took his life in 2004.
Throughout his career he played most cops or mobsters, appearing in such memorable films as Get Shorty, Manhunter, Snatch, and the unmemorable Bruce Willis film Striking Distance. Farina, who didn’t start acting until he was 37 years old also worked in comedy films like Little Big League and Eddie.
He was a self-deprecating man, who said he was such a poor shot when he was a cop that other officers called him “the Great Wounder.” Born on February 29th, he’d only seen his actual birthday 15 times during his all too short lifetime.
Farina was married and divorced and had three sons from that marriage. Funeral arrangements are pending.