Dennis Farina, star of 'Law & Order,' dead at 69 - FOX 32 News Chicago

Dennis Farina, star of 'Law & Order,' dead at 69

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) - Dennis Farina, a onetime Chicago cop who as a popular actor played a cop on "Law & Order," has died.

Farina died Monday morning in a Scottsdale, Ariz., hospital after suffering a blood clot in his lung, according to his publicist, Lori De Waal. He was 69.

For three decades, Farina was a character actor who displayed remarkable dexterity, charm and, when called for, toughness, making effective use of his craggy face, steel-gray hair, ivory smile and ample mustache.

Farina appeared in films including "Get Shorty," ''Saving Private Ryan," ''Midnight Run" and "Out Of Sight."

Among his many TV portrayals was Detective Joe Fontana on "Law & Order" during the 2004-06 seasons. He starred in the 1980s cult favorite "Crime Story" and was a regular in the 2011-12 HBO drama "Luck."

He recently completed shooting a comedy, "Lucky Stiff."

A veteran of the Chicago theater, Farina appeared in Joseph Mantegna's "Bleacher Bums" and "Streamers," directed by Terry Kinney, among other productions.

Born Feb. 29, 1944, in Chicago, he was a city detective before he found his way into the acting profession as he neared his forties.

On Monday, the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation released a statement on Farina's passing saying, in part, "The Foundation will remember him as someone who found fame doing something he loved while never forgetting where he came from. But most importantly, we'll remember him as a true Chicago original – someone who was a great actor, an outstanding detective, and a great friend to so many police officers."

Chicago Police Department Superintendent Garry McCarthy had several chances to meet the former cop.

"He did this department proud...and he never forgot where he came from," McCarthy said. "You know, if he saw one of these guys on the street he wouldn't pass by them without stopping without saying hello and shaking their hand."

His first film was the 1981 action drama "Thief," directed by Michael Mann, whom he had met through a mutual friend while still working for the Chicago Police Department.

"I remember going to the set that day and being intrigued by the whole thing," Farina recalled in a 2004 interview with The Associated Press. "I liked it. And everybody was extremely nice to me. If the people were rude and didn't treat me right, things could have gone the other way."

Farina was witty and funny on screen, but friends say he was even better in person.

"Just a wonderful human being and one of those guys that no matter how far he went in the movie business, the television business, he always remembered he was just a Chicago guy," friend Dan Jiggetts said.

Farina always gave back to his own. The 100 Club of Chicago provides assistance to the families of fallen police and firefighters. Joe Ahern, the CEO of the 100 Club found out, Farina is still giving back. In lieu of flowers, he asked that people donate to the club instead.

"I literally, I burst into tears thinking about what this guy meant as a personal friend, as a great Chicagoan, a guy that was a real Chicago guy, and how much he was loved, but how much he gave back," Ahern said.

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

For more information or to donate to the 100 Club of Chicago in memory of Dennis Farina, click here.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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