Dennis Farina

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Dennis Farina
Dennis Farina 2011 Shankbone.JPG
Farina at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival
BornFebruary 29, 1944
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
DiedJuly 22, 2013(2013-07-22) (aged 69)
Scottsdale, Arizona, U.S.
Cause of death
Pulmonary embolism
Years active1981–2013
Spouse(s)Patricia Farina (1970–1980) (divorced)
Partner(s)Marianne Cahill[1]
ChildrenDennis Farina Jr
Michael Farina
Joseph Farina
RelativesOlivia Farina (granddaughter)
Brianna Farina (granddaughter)
Michael Farina (grandson)
Tyler Farina (grandson)
Matthew Farina (grandson)
Eric Farina (grandson)
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Dennis Farina
Dennis Farina 2011 Shankbone.JPG
Farina at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival
BornFebruary 29, 1944
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
DiedJuly 22, 2013(2013-07-22) (aged 69)
Scottsdale, Arizona, U.S.
Cause of death
Pulmonary embolism
Years active1981–2013
Spouse(s)Patricia Farina (1970–1980) (divorced)
Partner(s)Marianne Cahill[1]
ChildrenDennis Farina Jr
Michael Farina
Joseph Farina
RelativesOlivia Farina (granddaughter)
Brianna Farina (granddaughter)
Michael Farina (grandson)
Tyler Farina (grandson)
Matthew Farina (grandson)
Eric Farina (grandson)

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. 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 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.

Early life[edit]

Farina was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Sicilian-American parents Joseph Farina, a doctor, and his wife Yolanda Donati.[2][3][4] His father was from Villalba, Sicily.[5] He had three brothers and three sisters.

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[edit]

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 theater before Mann chose him for his Crime Story series, which aired on NBC from 1986-88. Farina played mobster Albert Lombard in Michael Mann's other television show, Miami Vice. He also played the title character in Buddy Faro, a 1988 private-detective series on CBS.

Two of his best-known movie characters were 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), Striking Distance, Another Stakeout, Little Big League, Snatch, The Mod Squad, Big Trouble and Out of Sight. He co-starred with Bette Midler in a romantic comedy, That Old Feeling, directed by Carl Reiner. He also played a role in the 2002 film Stealing Harvard, in which he played a detective alongside Jason Lee and Tom Green (Comedy). 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 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.

In early 2005, Farina provided the voice of aging boxer-turned-superhero Wildcat on Justice League Unlimited.

The producers of the television series Law & Order hired Farina as Det. Joe Fontana after retiring Jerry Orbach's character Lennie Briscoe. Farina stayed for two years, but his character was not as popular as Orbach's 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, Joe 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.

In October 2008, Farina 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).[6]

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.

Personal life[edit]

Farina in May 2007

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[7] 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 The 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.[8]

On July 17, 2008, after reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors, Farina pleaded no contest and was sentenced to two years' probation.[9]


Farina died on July 22, 2013, in a hospital in Scottsdale, Arizona after suffering a pulmonary embolism.[10][11] Farina is buried at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Hillside, Illinois.


1985Code of SilenceDorato
1986Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is CallingFreddy
1986ManhunterJack Crawford
1988Midnight RunJimmy Serrano
1990Men of RespectBankie Como
1992We're Talking Serious MoneySal
1992MacMr. Stunder
1992Street CrimesBrian
1993Another StakeoutBrian O'Hara
1993Romeo Is BleedingNick GazzaraUncredited
1993Striking DistanceCapt. Nick Detillo
1994Little Big LeagueGeorge O'Farrell
1995Get ShortyRay "Bones" Barboni
1996EddieCoach John Bailey
1997That Old FeelingDan De Mora
1998Out of SightMarshall Sisco
1998Saving Private RyanLt. Col. Walter Anderson
1999The Mod SquadCapt. Adam Greer
2000Reindeer GamesJack Bangs
2000Preston TylkDick Muller
2000SnatchAbraham "Avi" Denovitz
2001Sidewalks of New YorkCarpo
2002Big TroubleHenry Desalvo
2002Stealing HarvardMr. Warner
2004PaparazziDet. Burton
2004Scrambled EggsDr. CarlsonShort film
2007You Kill MeEdward O'Leary
2007Purple VioletsGilmore
2007National Lampoon's Bag BoyMarty Engstrom
2008The GrandL.B.J. Deuce Fairbanks
2008Bottle ShockMaurice
2008What Happens in VegasBanger
2010KnuckleheadMemphis Earl
2011Last Rites of Joe MayJoe May
2014Authors AnonymousJohn K. Butzin


1983Through Naked EyesPatrolmanTV film
1984Hard KnoxAprilTV film
1984–1989Miami ViceAlbert Lombard3 episodes
1985American PlayhouseSupervisorEpisode: "The Killing Floor"
1985Hardcastle and McCormickEd ColeyEpisode: "Undercover McCormick"
1985HunterVic TerranovaEpisode: "The Snow Queen" 1 & 2
1985Remington SteeleCopEpisode: "Steele Trying"
1985Final JeopardyPoliceman #2TV film
1986The Birthday BoyTV film
1986Jack and MikeEpisode: Pilot
1986Lady BlueJoe KaufmanEpisode: "Sylvie"
1986TriplecrossErnie (Veteran Cop)TV film
1986–1988Crime StoryLt. Mike Torello44 episodes
1987Six Against the RockRobert StroudTV film
1988Open AdmissionsFredTV film
1989China BeachLt. Col. Edward Edward VincentEpisode: "All About E.E.V."
1989The Case of the Hillside StranglersAngelo Buono, Jr.TV film
1990Blind FaithProsecutor KellyTV film
1990People Like UsElias RenthallTV film
1991Perfect CrimesArmand ZaroTV film
1992Drug Wars: The Cocaine CartelMike CeroneTV film
1992Cruel DoubtTom BeretonMiniseries
1992Tales from the CryptAntoineEpisode: "Werewolf Concerto"
1993The Disappearance of NoraDentonTV film
1993A Stranger in the MirrorTV film
1994One Woman's CourageCraig McKennaTV film
1994The Corpse Had a Familiar FaceDet. Harry LindstromTV film
1995Out of Annie's PastCharlie IngleTV film
1995Bonanza: Under AttackCharley SiringoTV film
1997Bella MafiaDon Roberto LucianoTV film
1998Buddy FaroBuddy Faro13 episodes
2002–2003In-LawsVictor Pellet15 episodes
2004–2006Law & OrderDet. Joe Fontana46 episodes
2005Justice League UnlimitedWildcat (voice)Episode: "The Cat and the Canary"
2005Empire FallsWalt ComeauMiniseries
2008–2010Unsolved MysteriesHost/narratorLifetime
2011–2012LuckGus DemitriouHBO
2012New GirlWalt Miller2 episodes
2012Doc McStuffinsRiggoEpisode: "Stuck Up"
2013The Looney Tunes ShowFrank Russo (voice)Cartoon Network
2014Family GuyHimself, final roleEpisode: The Most Interesting Man in the World


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