Dennis Farina (February 29, 1944 â" 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. His most known film roles are those of 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. He also hosted and narrated a revived version of Unsolved Mysteries. His last major television role was in HBO's Luck, which premiered on January 29, 2012.
Before becoming an actor, Farina served three years in the United States Army, followed by 18 years in the Chicago Police Department's burglary division, from 1967 to 1985.
Career in show business
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 1986-88. 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 1988 private-detective series on CBS.
Two of his best-known movie characters are 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 include Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan (as Lieutenant Colonel Walter Anderson) and in various cops-and-robbers stories including 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 basketball coach in Eddie.
In a leading-man role and a departure from his usual parts, Farina co-starred with Bette Midler in a romantic comedy, That Old Feeling, directed by Carl Reiner in 1997.
Farina had 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 until 2003. He appeared in 2002's Stealing Harvard, a comedy in which he played a detective. 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 2008's Bottle Shock.
His distinctive voice was put to use in early 2005, when 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 Det. Joe Fontana; following the departure of longtime cast member Jerry Orbach. Farina stayed on the show for two seasons, but his character was not as popular as Orbach's Det. Lennie Briscoe had been. In May 2006, it was announced Farina was leaving Law & Order for other projects, including 2007's You Kill Me opposite Ben Kingsley and 2008's 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.
Also on television, Farina appeared in two network miniseries based on Joe McGinniss 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 entire original 15-year run before his death in 2003. This version featured re-edited segments from previous incarnations on NBC, CBS, and Lifetime (all originally hosted by Stack).
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.
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 the actor's death.
Farina was married to Patricia Farina from 1970 until their divorce in 1980. They have three sons together: 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.
Farina was a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan and played in this role in a 1988 revival of the successful 1977 Organic Theater Company stage play Bleacher Bums, which 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.
On July 17, 2008, after reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors, Farina pleaded no contest and was sentenced to two years' probation.
Farina died on July 22, 2013, in a hospital in Scottsdale, Arizona after suffering a pulmonary embolism. Farina is buried at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Hillside, Illinois.
- Dennis Farina at the Internet Movie Database
- Dennis Farina At Find A Grave