Chicago Tribune staff and news wire reports
1:10 p.m. CDT, July 22, 2013
Dennis Farina, a Chicago native and police officer who turned to acting, has died at 69 in Arizona, his publicist said today.
Farina, best known as detective Joe Fontana on the long-running TV series "Law & Order," suffered a blood clot in his lung, publicist Lori De Waal said.
Farina was an 18-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, a detective who moonlighted on Chicago theater stages and in small movie roles. In the 1980s he was on the NBC television series "Crime Story."
He became a full-time actor much in demand for feature films ("Midnight Run," "Saving Private Ryan," "Get Shorty," "Snatch"), TV movies ("The Case of the Hillside Strangler," "Empire Falls") and TV series ("The In-Laws," "Buddy Faro").
He then became one of the stars of "Law & Order," playing tough, nattily dressed Detective Joe Fontana.
Farina was born on Feb. 29, 1944, the fourth son and youngest of the seven children of Joseph and Yolanda Farina. The father was a doctor, the mother a homemaker, and they raised their kids in a home at 549 W. North Ave. in an area that was then a working-class neighborhood with a broad ethnic mix predominated by Italians and Germans.
He went to school right around the corner from his home, at St. Michael's Elementary and St. Michael's Central High School.
After graduating from high school, Farina decided to "get the Army out of the way" and served three years before returning to Chicago. He worked for a while at the South Water produce market until, on the advice of his older brother, a lawyer, he joined the police force and studied criminal justice at Truman Junior College.
Born: 2/29/1944, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
Died: 7/22/2013, Scottsdale, Arizona, U.S.A.
Dennis' Farina's western - actor:
Bonanza Under Attack (TV) - 1995 (Charley Siringo)