by Shannonn Kelly
04:45PM, EST July 22, 2013
Today I’m sad to report we have lost another wonderful character actor.
Best known for playing tough guy roles in films such as Midnight Run, Snatch, Get Shorty and as TV’s Detective Joe Fontana on Law & Order, Chicago cop turned actor, Dennis Farina is dead at the age of 69.
I first saw Dennis Farina in a short-lived TV series I personally believe was ahead of its time called “Crime Story” (1986-1988).
Director Michael Mann, who actually left the hot Miami Vice to helm Crime Story, produced it. The premise was a young made mobster from Chicago was sent to Las Vegas to expand the Chicago mob’s casino interests.
Dennis Farina played Lieutenant Mike Torello. His antagonist in the series was Ray Luca, a mobster played by Anthony Denison. They both were obsessed with bringing each other down on the mean and dirty mobbed up streets of early 1960’s Las Vegas.
The series also brought to the front more character actors such as complexly talented yet, under-rated Hollywood work-horse Bill Smitrovich who played Torello’s right-hand Detective Danny Krychek. Stephen Lang, now every movie’s bad guy or power-mad megalomaniac, played the sensitive, nerd-hot ginger haired bespectacled attorney David Abrams.
Farina got his start in the film industry with Michael Mann as a ‘police consultant’ during his 18 years as a police officer in the burglary division. Eventually Mann offered Farina a small role in his neo-noir film from 1981 starring James Caan and Tuesday Weld, called “Thief”.
Also, a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, Farina kept his feet in both worlds continuing to moonlight in live stage in Chicago at night and cop by day until Mann cast him in Crime Story.
According to Wikipedia:
Farina demonstrated quite a flair for comedy. He won an American Comedy Award for his performance in Get Shorty and starred in a television sitcom, In-Laws, from 2002-03. He had a comic role opposite Ed Harris and Helen Hunt in the HBO production of Empire Falls in 2005 and opposite Alan Rickman in 2008’s Bottle Shock.
Very few people saw Bottle Shock, but I did and I enjoyed Farina’s role as a man with a great palate and a lavish taste for wine, women and wonders of the world.
According to IndieWire:
Long relegated to supporting roles, Farina experienced a late career breakthrough in 2011 with the release of Joe Maggio’s solemn character study “The Last Rites of Joe May,” starring Farina as the titular short-money hustler clinging to the belief that he has a future in the game. In an interview with Indiewire, Farina said of the role, “Every character I’ve enjoyed doing, but this was another kind of character. Everybody likes to do that. Switch it up.” Following that acclaimed turn, Farina continued his great run on the small screen by starring opposite Dustin Hoffman in Michael Mann’s ill-fated HBO show “Luck,” and as Nick Miller’s father in the Fox’s hit comedy show “New Girl.”
- For a clip of Dennis Farina as Detective Joe Fontana, please click Here
- For a clip of Dennis Farina as Lieutenant Mike Torello, please click Here
His live-in girlfriend Marianne Cahill, 3 sons, 2 granddaughters and 4 grandsons survive Farina. We send them all our heartfelt condolences…