Dennis Farina, a former real-life cop who landed a role as detective on NBC's "Law & Order", has passed away. His publicist, Lori De Waal, says the actor died Monday morning, July 22 in a Scottsdale, Arizona hospital after suffering a blood clot in his lung. He was 69.
"I was stunned and saddened to hear about Dennis' unexpected passing this morning," says "Law & Order" creator Dick Wolf in a statement in the wake of the sad news. "The Law & Order family extends sympathy and condolences to his family. He was a great guy."
Before entering showbiz, Farina worked at the Chicago Police Department from 1967 to 1985. He joined "Law & Order" replacing Jerry Orbach in 2004. He played Det. Joe Fontana who shared the same neighborhood and alma mater with his own in Chicago.
He often played characters on either side of the law, such as Lt. Mike Torello on TV series "Crime Story" and mobsters like Jimmy Serrano in 1998's movie "Midnight Run" and Albert Lombard on TV show "Miami Vice", but his filmography is not limited to crime/procedural projects.
He did comedy in 1997's film "That Old Feeling" co-starring Bette Midler. He also appeared on FOX's sitcom "New Girl" as the con-man father of Nick Miller (Jake Johnson). In a sad case of life imitating art, his character was laid to rest in an episode called "Chicago".
"I feel very honored to have had the chance to meet, talk the Chicago Bears, and act with Dennis Farina," Johnson said in the statement to EW. "He is someone I will surely miss. I looked up to him personally and professionally. I am sad for his family, friends and his fans. We all will miss out."
Farina took on drama work as well. He starred in "Saving Private Ryan" and landed a major role in horse-racing series, "Luck", which was axed after animals died during the production. He also hosted "Unsolved Mysteries" that profiled real-life mysteries in documentary format.
Farina is survived by "the love of his life of 35 years, Marianne Cahill," three adult children from his previous marriage to Patricia Farina, two granddaughters and four grandsons. He was married to the mother of his children for 10 years before splitting in 1980.