Dennis Franz biography
Born in Illinois in 1944, actor Dennis Franz made his big-screen debut in 1978's The Fury, which garnered the attention of television producer Steven Bochco. Bochco later put the actor in various television projects, but it was 1993's controversial drama NYPD Blue that made Franz a bona fide star. Playing volatile detective Andy Sipowicz on the series, Franz earned four Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe Award.
Early Life and Career
Born Dennis Franz Schlacta on October 28, 1944, in Maywood, Illinois, the son of two Chicago postal workers and the youngest of three siblings, actor Dennis Franz found success on such television shows as Hill Street Blues and NYPD Blue. He attended Wright Junior College and Southern Illinois University, where he received a bachelor's degree in speech and theater in 1968.
Franz was drafted into the U.S. Army after college, and ended up serving 11 months in the airborne division during the Vietnam War. After he returned home, Franz followed his parents' footsteps and became a postman for a short time. He then decided to pursue a career as an actor, starting out with Chicago's Organic Theater Company. Around this time, Franz met and befriended fellow actor Joe Mantegna.
In 1978, Franz made his first appearances on the big screen: He had small parts in both Brian De Palma's The Fury and Robert Altman's A Wedding. His work in The Fury garnered the attention of television producer Steven Bochco.
Dennis Franz first came to prominence with Bochco's gritty police drama Hill Street Blues; in the 1980s, he played two different roles on the popular series—Detective Sal Benedetto and Lieutenant Norman Buntz. The latter character was later featured in a short-lived spinoff, Beverly Hills Buntz (1987).
In 1993, Franz took on his most acclaimed role of his career, starring as Detective Andy Sipowicz on the controversial drama NYPD Blue. First partnered on screen with David Caruso and later Jimmy Smits, Franz stayed with the series throughout its entire run. He won numerous accolades for his portrayal of the emotionally volatile lawman, including four Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe Award.
After NYPD Blue ended in 2005, Dennis Franz has largely stayed out of the spotlight. In recent years, he's reportedly been devoting time to enjoying his retirement. Franz and his wife, Joanie, have been traveling and spending time with their grandchildren. (The couple has been married since 1995, and she has two daughters from a previous relationship.)
In 2012, Franz made a rare public appearance: He gave a reading at the National Memorial Day Concert, which was held in Washington, D.C., and co-hosted by Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise. According to Zap2it.com, Franz said of the event, "It's a wonderful time to pay tribute to men and women in the service in general ... to acknowledge their sacrifice. It's a very admirable thing, and I'm proud to be a part of this."