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Dennis Farina (born February 29, 1944) is an Americanmarker film and television actor. He is a character actor, often typecast as a mobster or police officer, the latter due to his pre-acting career as a police officer.

Early life

Farina was born in Chicago, Illinoismarker, to Italian American parents Yolanda, a homemaker, and Joseph Farina, a Sicilian doctor. He was raised in a large family and has three brothers and three sisters.

Farina served 18 years as a policeman on the Chicago police force before becoming an actor. Farina himself has stated several times that his handgun skills while on the force were so poor that his fellow officers nick-named him 'The Great Wounder'.


Farina began his work in show business working for director Michael Mann as a police consultant on Mann's early works. This led to an interest in acting when Mann cast him in a small role in the 1981 film Thief. Farina proceeded to moonlight as an actor in the Chicago theater scene before Mann chose him for his Crime Story series. Farina played the mobster Albert Lombard in Michael Mann's other television show Miami Vice.

Two of his most well-known movie characters are Jimmy Serrano, the mob boss from Midnight Run, and Ray "Bones" Barboni, a rival criminal of Chili Palmer's in Get Shorty. He also played the FBI agent in the first Hannibal Lecter crime film, Michael Mann's Manhunter.

Other movies in Farina's filmography include Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan (as an Army Lieutenant Colonel), Striking Distance, Another Stakeout, Little Big League, Snatch, The Mod Squad and Out of Sight. He co-starred with Bette Midler in the romantic comedy That Old Feeling.

Farina has demonstrated quite a flair for comedy. He won an American Comedy Award for his performance in Get Shorty and starred in a television sitcom, In-Laws, from 2002-03. He had a comic role opposite Ed Harris and Helen Hunt in the HBO production of Empire Falls in 2005 and opposite Alan Rickman in 2008's Bottle Shock.

In early 2005, Farina provided the voice of aging boxer-turned-superhero Wildcat on Justice League Unlimited.

The producers of the long-running television series Law & Order hired Farina as Det. Joe Fontana after the death of Jerry Orbach. Farina stayed with the show for two years, but his character was not as popular with viewers as Orbach's Lennie Briscoe had been. As a result, in May 2006, it was announced that Farina was leaving Law & Order to pursue other projects, including 2007's You Kill Me opposite Ben Kingsley and 2008's What Happens in Vegas with Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher.

His role of Detective Lt. Mike Torello on Crime Story was as a Chicago police officer, who was later seconded to the U.S.marker Justice Departmentmarker. Farina's Law & Order character, Joe Fontana, worked for Chicago Homicide before his transfer to the NYPD. As is common on Law & Order, Fontana shares a number of other characteristics with the actor who plays him: they hail from the same Chicago neighborhood, attended the same parochial school, and have the same tastes in both clothes and music (Dean Martin).

In October 2008, Farina became the new host of Unsolved Mysteries when it returned to television with a new five-season, 175-episode run on Spike TV. Farina was filling a void that the late Robert Stack left upon his death. (Stack hosted the series for its entire original 15 year run.) The series would include re-edited segments from previous incarnations on NBC, CBS, and Lifetime (all originally hosted by Stack) as well as several new original stories.

Personal life

Farina is the father of three sons, Dennis, Michael, and Joseph. His youngest son, Joseph, is also an actor. He was an officer in the Chicago Police Department from 1967 to 1985. When Farina quit the force, he became a private detective. He has one granddaughter, Brianna, and four grandsons, Michael, Tyler, Matthew and Eric. Dennis is a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan and played an avid fan alongside Dennis Franz in the play "The Bleacher Bums" for a few years.

Farina was arrested on May 11, 2008 carrying a loaded .22 caliber pistol through LAXmarker airport security. Farina was taken to LAPD's Pacific Division, booked on suspicion of carrying a concealed weapon and bail was set at $25,000. He claimed he had simply forgotten the weapon was still in his briefcase and had never intended to take it on a plane. After police determined the weapon was unregistered, the charges were upgraded to a felony and bail was increased to $35,000.

On July 17, 2008 after reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors, Farina pleaded no contest and was sentenced to two years probation. On July 17, 2009, the judge in his case decided he should not have been prosecuted for a criminal offense, dismissed the charge and expunged it from Farina's otherwise clean record.


Year Film Role Notes
1981 Thief Carl
1985 Code of Silence Dorato
1986 Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling Freddy
Manhunter Jack Crawford
1988 Midnight Run Jimmy Serrano
1990 Men of Respect Bankie Como
1992 We're Talking Serious Money Sal
Mac Mr. Stunder
Street Crimes Brian
1993 Another Stakeout Brian O'Hara
Romeo Is Bleeding Nick Gazzara Uncredited Role
Striking Distance Capt. Nick Detillo
1994 Little Big League George O'Farrell
1995 Get Shorty Ray 'Bones' Barboni
1996 Eddie Coach John Bailey
1997 That Old Feeling Dan De Mora
1998 Out of Sight Marshall Sisco
Saving Private Ryan Lt. Col. Walter Anderson
1999 The Mod Squad Capt. Adam Greer
2000 Reindeer Games Jack Bangs
Preston Tylk Dick Muller
Snatch Abraham 'Avi' Denovitz
2001 Sidewalks of New York Carpo
2002 Big Trouble Henry Desalvo
Stealing Harvard Mr. Warner
2004 Paparazzi Det. Burton
Scrambled Eggs Dr. Carlson Short film
2007 You Kill Me Edward O'Leary
Purple Violets Gilmore
National Lampoon's Bag Boy Marty Engstrom
2008 The Grand L.B.J. Deuce Fairbanks
Bottle Shock Maurice
What Happens in Vegas Banger
Year Title Role Notes
1983 Through Naked Eyes Patrolman ABC TV-Movie
1984 Hard Knox April NBC TV-Movie/TV-Pilot
1984–1989 Miami Vice Albert Lombard Episode: One Eyed Jack
Episode: Lombard
Episode: "World of Trouble"

1985 American Playhouse Supervisor Episode: "The Killing Floor"
Hardcastle and McCormick Ed Coley Episode: "Undercover McCormick"
Hunter Vic Terranova Episode: "The Snow Queen" 1 & 2
Remington Steele Cop Episode: "Steele Trying"
Final Jeopardy Policeman #2 NBC TV-Movie
1986 The Birthday Boy Short TV-Movie
Jack and Mike Episode: Pilot
Lady Blue Joe Kaufman Episode: "Sylvie"
Triplecross Ernie (Veteran Cop) ABC TV-Movie
1986–1988 Crime Story Lt. Mike Torello 44 episodes
1987 Six Against the Rock Robert Stroud NBC TV-Movie
1988 Open Admissions Fred CBS TV-Movie
1989 China Beach Lt. Col. Edward Edward Vincent Episode: "All About E.E.V."
The Case of the Hillside Stranglers Angelo Buono, Jr. NBC TV-Movie
1990 Blind Faith Prosecutor Kelly NBC TV-Movie
People Like Us Elias Renthall NBC TV-Movie
1991 Perfect Crimes Armand Zaro NBC TV-Movie/Unsold TV-Pilot
1992 Drug Wars: The Cocaine Cartel Mike Cerone NBC TV-Movie
Cruel Doubt Tom Bereton NBC Miniseries
Tales from the Crypt Antoine Episode: "Werewolf Concerto"
1993 The Disappearance of Nora Denton CBS TV-Movie
A Stranger in the Mirror ABC TV-Movie
1994 One Woman's Courage Craig McKenna NBC TV-Movie
The Corpse Had a Familiar Face Det. Harry Lindstrom CBS TV-Movie
1995 Out of Annie's Past Charlie Ingle TV-Movie
Bonanza: Under Attack Charley Siringo NBC TV-Movie
1997 Bella Mafia Don Roberto Luciano CBS TV-Movie
1998 Buddy Faro Buddy Faro 13 episodes
2002–2003 In-Laws Victor Pellet 15 episodes
2004–2006 Law & Order Det. Joe Fontana 46 episodes
2005 Justice League Unlimited Wildcat Voice Role
Episode: "The Cat and the Canary"
Law & Order: Trial by Jury Det. Joe Fontana Episode: "Skeleton"
Empire Falls Walt Comeau HBO Miniseries


  1. His name is sometimes given as Donaldo Guglielmo Farina. However, this is incorrect - it has never been his name.
  2. Cigar Aficionado | People Profile | Dennis Farina
  3. Dennis Farina Biography (1944-)
  5. Actor Dennis Farina arrested at LA Airport. 11 May 2008. Reuters.
  6. Actor Dennis Farina Gets Probation on Gun Charge. 11 May 2008. Reuters.

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