Dennis Farina, the dapper, mustachioed cop-turned-actor best known for his tough-as-nails work in such TV series as "Law & Order," "Crime Story," and "Miami Vice," has died. He was 69.
"We are deeply saddened by the loss of a great actor and a wonderful man," said his publicist, Lori De Waal, in a statement Monday. "Dennis Farina was always warmhearted and professional, with a great sense of humor and passion for his profession. He will be greatly missed by his family, friends and colleagues."
Farina, who had a long career as a police officer in Chicago, got into acting through director Michael Mann, who used him as a consultant and cast him in his 1981 movie, "Thief." That role led to others in such Mann-created shows as "Miami Vice" (in which Farina played a mobster) and "Crime Story" (in which he starred as Lt. Mike Torello).
Farina also had roles, generally as either cops or gangsters, in a number of movies, including "Midnight Run" (1988), "Get Shorty" (1995), "The Mod Squad" (1999) and "Snatch" (2000).
In 2004, he joined the cast of the long-running "Law & Order" after Jerry Orbach's departure, playing Detective Joe Fontana, a role he reprised on the spinoff "Trial by Jury." Fontana was known for flashy clothes and an expensive car, a distinct counterpoint to Orbach's rumpled Lennie Briscoe.
Farina was on "Law & Order" for two years, partnered with Jesse L. Martin's Ed Green. Martin's character became a senior detective after Farina left the show.
In recent years, Farina was one of the stars of "Luck," the ill-fated HBO series about horse racing, and had an occasional role on the Fox series "New Girl."
Farina was born in 1944 in Chicago's Old Town neighborhood. He became a police officer in the late '60s and soon graduated to detective.
His switch to acting was a fluke.
A friend was an adviser on "Thief" and recommended Farina to Mann, who was looking for a guide to the city. The director gave Farina a small part in the film.