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Actor Dennis Farina Dies At Age 69

By Chuck Sudo in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 22, 2013 6:20PM

Photo by Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images

Dennis Farina, the former Chicago police officer turned in-demand character actor, died Monday in Scottsdale, Ariz. Mr. Farina’s publicist, Lori De Waal, said he suffered a blood clot in his lung. He was 69.

Mr. Farina was a leap year baby, born Feb. 29, 1944. He was a Chicago cop for 18 years when he was hired by director Michael Mann as a police consultant. He eventually developed an interest in acting and was cast by Mann in the 1981 thriller Thief.

Mr. Farina moonlighted in Chicago theatrical productions before Mann gave him his big break, casting him as Lt. Mike Torello in the 1985 cult television series Crime Story. Mr. Farina played Det. Joe Fontana on NBC’s Law & Order from 2004-2006, notable for being the only actor with police experience on the long-running program. Law & Order creator Dick Wolf released a statement saying he was "stunned and saddened" about Mr. Farina's death.

Thanks to his distinctive features and Chicago accent, Mr. Farina was able to forge a steady career as a character actor in television and film, with at least 75 roles to his credit. Some of his more memorable roles were in the films Midnight Run, Saving Private Ryan, Snatch and Get Shorty. Few actors could say the word “fuck” with the panache as Mr. Farina.