Film and television actor Dennis Farina has passed away at the age of 69, as reported by his publicist on Monday, July 22.
Dennis Farina was a former Chicago police officer whose acting career often cast him as either a cop or a criminal, ironically.
Farina may be best known to TV audiences for his work on ‘Law & Order’ from 2004-2006, where he headlined the show as Detective Joe Fontana. Dennis Farina had joined to show to replace fan-favorite actor Jerry Orbach, who had passed away after playing Det. Lenny Briscoe for 13 years on the show.
Dennis Farina began acting in films with director Michael Mann’s thriller ‘Thief’ in 1981 starring alongside James Caan. His next prominent film role, also for director Mann, was as FBI Special Agent Jack Crawford in the first film that introduced audiences to Hannibal Lektor, 1986’s ‘Manhunter.’ The same character of Jack Crawford was portrayed by actor Scott Glenn in ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ five years later.
Michael Mann was largely responsible for getting Farina high-profile work, as several of the actor’s early roles were due to his association with the ‘Miami Vice’ visionary. After a recurring role on the popular ‘Miami Vice’, show creator Mann cast Farina to lead the TV series, ‘Crime Story’ which lasted for two seasons.
In 1988, Farina would memorably portray crime boss Jimmy Serrano in the Robert De Niro film ‘Midnight Run.’ That film is a terrific example of much of Dennis Farina’s work. Farina easily alters between being charming and charismatic to downright evil and nasty as the Chicago crime boss Serrano.
Farina continued to impress audiences in higher-profile films such as ‘Saving Private Ryan,’ ‘Snatch,’ and ‘Out of Sight’ but remained a supporting character for much of his film work.
In 2011, film director Joe Maggio cast Farina in ‘The Last Rites of Joe May.’ Dennis Farina plays the titular character of Joe May, an aging hustler in the twilight of his career and his life. With a film to showcase his skills as a central character, Maggio’s film earned Dennis Farina some of the best reviews of his career.
“Farina is always commanding,” cited the NY Post and “Dennis Farina’s performance is a revelation,” was The Huffington Post’s impression of his work for ‘The Last Rites of Joe May.
In the last few years, Farina had continued to work in film and on television. In addition to the actor’s work on the TV series ‘New Girl’ Farina was involved in two films, ‘Lucky Stiff’ and ‘Authors Anonymous’ which are both still in the production phase.
The cause of Dennis Farina’s death was not known at the time of our publishing this article. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his colleagues, family, and friends.