Farina in 2011
February 29, 1944|
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
July 22, 2013 (aged 69)|
Scottsdale, Arizona, U.S.
(m. 1970; div. 1980)
Dennis Farina (February 29, 1944 - July 22, 2013) was an American actor of film and television and former Chicago police officer. He was a character actor, often typecast as a mobster or police officer. He is known for roles such as mobster Jimmy Serrano in the comedy Midnight Run and Ray "Bones" Barboni in Get Shorty. He starred on television as Lieutenant Mike Torello on Crime Story and as NYPD Detective Joe Fontana on Law & Order. From 2008-2010, he hosted and narrated the television program Unsolved Mysteries on Spike TV. His last major television role was in HBO's Luck, which premiered on January 29, 2012.
Farina was born in a leap year on February 29, 1944 in Chicago's Old Town neighborhood. He was the fourth son and youngest of the seven children of Joseph and Yolanda Farina. Farina's father, who was from Villalba, Sicily, was a Chicago-area doctor, and his mother a homemaker. The Farinas raised their children in a North Avenue home in Old Town, a working-class neighborhood with a broad ethnic mixture, with Italians and Germans being the two predominant ethnicities.
Farina began working for director Michael Mann as a police consultant, which led Mann to cast him in a small role in the 1981 film Thief. Farina moonlighted as an actor in Chicago-based films (like Code of Silence, a 1985 Chuck Norris film) and theater before Mann chose him for his Crime Story series, which aired on NBC from 1986 to 1988. Farina played mobster Albert Lombard in Mann's previous hit television show, Miami Vice. He later starred as the title character in Buddy Faro, a 1998 private-detective series on CBS.
Sticking to the stereotype roles he had frequently been cast in, Farina played Jimmy Serrano, the mob boss from Midnight Run, and Ray "Bones" Barboni, a rival criminal to Chili Palmer in Get Shorty. Farina also played FBI Agent Jack Crawford in the first Hannibal Lecter crime film, Michael Mann's Manhunter.
Other movies Farina was cast in include Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan, Striking Distance, Another Stakeout, Snatch, The Mod Squad, Reindeer Games, Men of Respect, Big Trouble and Out of Sight. He played a baseball manager in Little Big League and a nemesis basketball coach in Eddie.
Farina won an American Comedy Award for his performance in Get Shorty and starred in a television sitcom, In-Laws, from 2002 until 2003. He appeared in the 2002 Stealing Harvard, a comedy in which he played a tough-talking, overprotective father-in-law. He also had a comic role opposite Ed Harris and Helen Hunt in the HBO production of Empire Falls in 2005 and opposite Alan Rickman in the 2008 Bottle Shock.
Working as a voice-actor beginning in early 2005, Farina provided the voice of aging boxer-turned-superhero Wildcat on Justice League Unlimited. In early 2013, he voiced the father of Daffy Duck's girlfriend on The Looney Tunes Show, and played himself in an April 13, 2014, episode of the animated series Family Guy called "The Most Interesting Man in the World," aired posthumously, one of his final acting roles.
In 2004, the producers of the television series Law & Order hired Farina as Detective Joe Fontana; following the departure of longtime cast member Jerry Orbach. Farina stayed on the show for two seasons. In May 2006, it was announced Farina was leaving Law & Order for other projects, including the 2007 You Kill Me opposite Ben Kingsley and the 2008 What Happens in Vegas with Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher.
His role of Detective Lt. Mike Torello on Crime Story was as a Chicago police officer, who was assigned to the U.S. Justice Department. Farina's Law & Order character, Detective Fontana, worked for Chicago Homicide before his transfer to the NYPD. Fontana shared a number of other characteristics with the actor who played him; they came from the same Chicago neighborhood, attended the same parochial school, and had the same tastes in clothes and music and were fans of the Chicago Cubs.
Farina appeared in two television network miniseries' based on Joe McGinniss's true-crime books, Blind Faith (1990) and Cruel Doubt (1992). He made a rare western, portraying legendary lawman Charlie Siringo in a 1995 television movie, Bonanza: Under Attack, a followup to the hit 1960s series.
In October 2008, he became the new host of Unsolved Mysteries when it returned to television with a new five-season, 175-episode run on Spike TV. Farina replaced Robert Stack, who had hosted the series for its prior 15-year run. This version featured re-edited segments from previous incarnations on NBC, CBS, and Lifetime.
Farina played the title role in a 2011 independent film, The Last Rites of Joe May, written and directed by Joe Maggio, shot on location in Chicago. He was among the stars of a 2014 release, Authors Anonymous, playing a wanna-be novelist with a fantasy of becoming another Tom Clancy.
Again on television, Farina co-starred in the 2012 HBO horse-race gambling series Luck, with Dustin Hoffman, directed by Michael Mann. He had a recurring guest role in 2013 in the television comedy series New Girl, though his character was killed off prior to his death.
Farina was married to Patricia Farina from 1970 until their divorce in 1980. They have three sons: Dennis Jr., Michael and Joseph. His youngest son, Joseph, is also an actor. He has two granddaughters, Brianna and Olivia, and four grandsons: Michael, Tyler, Matthew and Eric. He lived with his longtime girlfriend Marianne Cahill in Chicago and Scottsdale, Arizona.
A lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, Farina played the role of a Cubs fan in a 1988 revival of the successful 1977 Organic Theater Company stage play Bleacher Bums. The play was written by and starred fellow Chicago actors Joe Mantegna and Dennis Franz.
Farina was arrested on May 11, 2008, for carrying a loaded .22-caliber pistol through Los Angeles International Airport security. Farina was taken to the Los Angeles Police Department's Pacific Division and booked on suspicion of carrying a concealed weapon, and bail was set at $25,000. He claimed he had simply forgotten the weapon was still in his briefcase and had never intended to take it on a plane. After police determined the weapon was unregistered, the charges were upgraded to a felony and bail was increased to $35,000. After reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors, Farina pleaded no contest and was sentenced to two years' probation on July 17, 2008.
|1985||Code of Silence||Det. Dorato|
|1986||Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling||Freddy|
|1988||Midnight Run||Jimmy Serrano|
|1990||Men of Respect||Bankie Como|
|1990||Havana||Joe Volpe's assistant||Uncredited|
|1992||We're Talking Serious Money||Sal|
|1993||Another Stakeout||Brian O'Hara|
|1993||Romeo Is Bleeding||Nick Gazzara||Uncredited|
|1993||Striking Distance||Capt. Nick Detillo|
|1994||Little Big League||George O'Farrell|
|1995||Get Shorty||Ray "Bones" Barboni|
|1996||Eddie||Coach John Bailey|
|1997||That Old Feeling||Dan De Mora|
|1998||Out of Sight||Marshall Sisco|
|1998||Saving Private Ryan||Lt. Col. Walter Anderson|
|1999||The Mod Squad||Capt. Adam Greer|
|2000||Reindeer Games||Jack Bangs|
|2000||Preston Tylk||Dick Muller|
|2000||Snatch||Abraham "Avi" Denovitz|
|2001||Sidewalks of New York||Carpo|
|2002||Big Trouble||Henry Desalvo|
|2002||Stealing Harvard||Mr. Warner|
|2004||Scrambled Eggs||Dr. Carlson||Short film|
|2007||You Kill Me||Edward O'Leary|
|2007||Purple Violets||Glen Gilmore|
|2007||The Grand||L.B.J. Deuce Fairbanks|
|2007||National Lampoon's Bag Boy||Marty Engstrom|
|2008||Bottle Shock||Maurice Cantavale|
|2008||What Happens in Vegas||Banger|
|2011||The Last Rites of Joe May||Joe May|
|2014||Authors Anonymous||John K. Butzin|
|2014||Lucky Stiff||Luigi||(final film role)|
|1983||Through Naked Eyes||Patrolman||TV film|
|1984||Hard Knox||April||TV film|
|1984-1989||Miami Vice||Albert Lombard||3 episodes|
|1985||American Playhouse||Supervisor||Episode: "The Killing Floor"|
|1985||Hardcastle and McCormick||Ed Coley||Episode: "Undercover McCormick"|
|1985||Hunter||Vic Terranova||Episode: "The Snow Queen" 1 & 2|
|1985||Remington Steele||Cop||Episode: "Steele Trying"|
|1985||Final Jeopardy||Policeman #2||TV film|
|1986||The Birthday Boy||Diner owner||TV film|
|1986||Jack and Mike||Episode: Pilot|
|1986||Lady Blue||Joe Kaufman||Episode: "Sylvie"|
|1986||Triplecross||Ernie (Veteran Cop)||TV film|
|1986-1988||Crime Story||Lt. Mike Torello||44 episodes|
|1987||Six Against the Rock||Robert Stroud||TV film|
|1988||Open Admissions||Fred||TV film|
|1989||China Beach||Lt. Col. Edward Edward Vincent||Episode: "All About E.E.V."|
|1989||The Case of the Hillside Stranglers||Angelo Buono, Jr.||TV film|
|1990||Blind Faith||Prosecutor Kelly||TV film|
|1990||People Like Us||Elias Renthall||TV film|
|1991||Perfect Crimes||Armand Zaro||TV film|
|1992||Drug Wars: The Cocaine Cartel||Mike Cerone||TV film|
|1992||Cruel Doubt||Tom Bereton||Miniseries|
|1992||Tales from the Crypt||Antoine||Episode: "Werewolf Concerto"|
|1993||The Disappearance of Nora||Denton||TV film|
|1993||A Stranger in the Mirror||TV film|
|1994||One Woman's Courage||Craig McKenna||TV film|
|1994||The Corpse Had a Familiar Face||Det. Harry Lindstrom||TV film|
|1995||Out of Annie's Past||Charlie Ingle||TV film|
|1995||Bonanza: Under Attack||Charley Siringo||TV film|
|1997||Bella Mafia||Don Roberto Luciano||TV film|
|1998||Buddy Faro||Buddy Faro||13 episodes|
|2002-2003||In-Laws||Victor Pellet||15 episodes|
|2004-2006||Law & Order||Det. Joe Fontana||46 episodes|
|2005||Law & Order: Trial by Jury||Det. Joe Fontana||Episode: "Skeleton"|
|2005||Justice League Unlimited||Wildcat (voice)||Episode: "The Cat and the Canary"|
|2005||Empire Falls||Walt Comeau||Miniseries|
|2008-2010||Unsolved Mysteries||Host/narrator||Spike TV|
|2012||New Girl||Walt Miller||2 episodes|
|2012||Doc McStuffins||Riggo (voice)||Episode: "Stuck Up"|
|2013||The Looney Tunes Show||Frank Russo (voice)||Episode: "Daffy Duck, Esquire"|
|2014||Family Guy||Himself||Episode: "The Most Interesting Man in the World" (final role)|