Dennis Farina Biography

Film Actor, Actor, Television Actor (1944–2013)
Dennis Farina is a TV and film actor known for his tough-guy roles on such shows as Law & Order and in films such as Get Shorty.


Dennis Farina was a police officer in Chicago from 1967 to 1985. It was while working as a police consultant with director Michael Mann that Farina first got interested in professional acting. He eventually landed film and TV roles, often as a mobster or police officer. He is best known by mainstream audiences from Law & Order. His films include Midnight Run, Get Shorty, and Saving Private Ryan.

Early Years

Donaldo Gugliermo Farina was born on February 29, 1944 in Chicago, Illinois. Farina grew up in a large Italian family, the fourth son of seven children. After graduating from high school, Farina served in the Army for three years before joining hte Chicago Police Department where he served as an officer from 1967 to 1985.

While on the force, Farina performed small roles in Chicago theater and worked as a police consultant for director Michael Mann. Mann cast him in the 1981 movie Thief, which led to roles in television shows created by the director including Miami Vice, in which he played a mobster, and Crime Story, in which he starred as Lieutenant Mike Torello.

Starring in 'Law & Order'

Farina became a full-time actor when he began to land film and television roles, often as a mobster or police officer. He appeared in movies including Midnight Run (1987), Get Shorty (1995), Saving Private Ryan (1998), The Mod Squad (1999) and Snatch (2000).

But Farina was perhaps best known for his role as Detective Joe Fontana on NBC's Law & Order. In 2004, he joined the cast of the popular television drama after Jerry Orbach left the show. For two years, Farina played sharp-dressed, tough detective Joe Fontana, the partner of Ed Green, played by Jesse L. Martin.

Later Career & Death

After Law & Order, Farina starred in the short-lived HBO horse racing drama Luck and made occasional appearances in the Fox series New Girl as Nick's father.

On July 22, 2013, Farina died at an Arizona hospital after a blood clot was found in one of his lungs. He was 69 and survived by his partner Marianne Cahill and three sons from a previous marraige.

Fact Check

We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!