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Dennis Farina, 'Law & Order' star, dies at 69

July 22, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Dennis Farina, a former Chicago cop who as a popular actor played a cop on "Law & Order," died Monday. He was 69.

The actor died in a Scottsdale, Ariz., hospital after suffering a blood clot in his lung, Farina's representative Lori De Waal said.

Born Feb. 29, 1944, in Chicago, Farina spent 18 years with the Chicago Police Department. He started acting as a sideline and landed his first role, a small one, in the 1981 film, "Thief." In 1986, he took a leave of absence from his law enforcement career to star in a TV series.

Farina's work on "Crime Story" convinced him it was time to hang up his badge and give acting a go full-time. But during an interview 15 years later, the "cop" was still in him.

"You're never completely off the job. It's just instinctual," he said.

On camera, Farina could be both funny and ferocious. In 1988, he starred alongside Charles Grodin and Robert De Niro in "Midnight Run."

Farina's other film work included roles in the George Clooney-Jennifer Lopez film, "Out of Sight," and the comedy, "Big Trouble," and the romantic comedy, "That Old Feeling."

Farina was fine being described as a "character actor." He would show that side off in films like "Snatch" and "Get Shorty," where he got notice for playing a Miami mob boss.

In 2004, Farina joined the cast of "Law & Order" as Det. Joe Fontana, stepping in after the death of its star, Jerry Orbach. The former cop was back wearing a badge.

Farina is survived by three sons, six grandchildren and his longtime partner, Marianne Cahill.


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