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"I'll get up and bury this telephone in your head."
July 22, 2013 11:40 AM   Subscribe

Actor Dennis Farina, known for his roles as cops, crooks, and crooked cops, has died.

The Chicago-born Farina was a police officer before deciding to pursue an acting career in his late 30s. His movie debut was in Thief, Michael Mann's first movie [SPOILERS]. He later starred in two other Mann projects, the critically acclaimed TV series Crime Story and the Thomas Harris adaptation Manhunter (the first film to feature Harris' Hannibal Lector.) Farina turned in a memorably profane performance as mob boss Jimmy Serrano in Midnight Run. He also appeared as a hapless criminal in Get Shorty, starred as U.S. Army officer in Saving Private Ryan and dispensed some memorable travel advice as an American hoodlum in London in Snatch.

In 2004, Farina replaced Jerry Orbach in Law and Order, but his character proved less popular than his predecessor, and he left after only a few seasons. In 2008, he became the host of the revamped Unsolved Mysteries. One of Farina's final projects, the ill-starred HBO series Luck, reunited him with Michael Mann.

Farina died in Scottsdale, Arizona of complications from a blood clot in his lung. He was 69 years old, and he said "fuck" like nobody else.
posted by Rangeboy (93 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by Hairy Lobster at 11:42 AM on July 22, 2013


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posted by Iridic at 11:42 AM on July 22, 2013


Aw, I loved him as Cousin Avi in Snatch. Great actor.
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posted by brand-gnu at 11:43 AM on July 22, 2013


He weren't no Lenny Briscoe, but I loved him on L&O.

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posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:44 AM on July 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


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I instantly thought of "Yeah. Don't go to England." when I saw his name. Nobody projects attitude like Farina did.
posted by jiawen at 11:44 AM on July 22, 2013


Fuck.
posted by daveje at 11:44 AM on July 22, 2013


Fuck.

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posted by flyingsquirrel at 11:45 AM on July 22, 2013


Loved this guy, i.e. he will be missed, e.g.
posted by Lukenlogs at 11:47 AM on July 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Pretty sure I just saw him in a Comcast commercial. Bizarre.
posted by valkyryn at 11:48 AM on July 22, 2013


"I.e., e.g., fuck you."

My first exposure to him was Get Shorty. Loved him ever since. He almost made Comcast commercials tolerable.
posted by yerfatma at 11:49 AM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


His Ray Barboni in Get Shorty just killed me when I saw that movie.

Don't you puke on my shoes, Harry.
posted by zzazazz at 11:50 AM on July 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


Ah, nuts, I forgot this Random Roles interview from a few years back.
posted by Rangeboy at 11:51 AM on July 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


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posted by Smart Dalek at 11:52 AM on July 22, 2013


And here's another one where he talks a little bit about working as a cop.
posted by Rangeboy at 11:53 AM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


And thus passes probably the most famous celebrity born on February 29. (For some reason, that is the only thing I know about Farina's life.) I suppose the crown now passes to Ja Rule, or possibly Tony Robbins.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:53 AM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


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Remembering Dennis Farina, the great cop-turned-character-actor
You knew what you were going to get with Farina, and it was all about how well the people employing him took advantage of his particular gifts. One of his final roles (before a couple of amusing guest appearances on "New Girl" as the con man father of Jake Johnson's Nick) was as Gus Demitriou on "Luck." Farina was back with Mann (and working with writer David Milch for the first time), and the character was a classic Farina type. For the bulk of the series' first and only season, Gus is a relaxed, sweet guy who enjoys his life as Hoffman's driver, bodyguard and confidante, but there's always a sense that Gus isn't quite the simple retiree he presents himself as to the world. And sure enough, in what turned out to be the last episode, we see the brutal, competent thug beneath the laid-back facade, as Gus kills a hitman with his bare hands after a savage brawl in a restaurant men's room. The fight is one that could have gone either way, and after Gus emerges as the victor, the camera sits on his face for a long time as he studies his reflection in the bathroom mirror, thinking about all the times he's come close to death, all the men he's killed, and wondering exactly how much longer he can get away with a life like this.

Farina lived two wildly different lives as an adult, and he always used the first to inform him in the second. He'll be missed.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:58 AM on July 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


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posted by Thorzdad at 11:59 AM on July 22, 2013


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posted by Elly Vortex at 12:05 PM on July 22, 2013


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posted by shallowcenter at 12:07 PM on July 22, 2013


Fuck. I loved him in every role I saw him in, ever since Crime Story. One of a kind, and one hell of a Chicago accent, to boot.
posted by rocket88 at 12:07 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


A friend of mine worked with him on a couple of otherwise unrelated projects, and said he was exactly how he came across on screen -- a great guy until a problem arose that he needed to solve, and then he would calmly and professionally do exactly what it took to solve the problem. My friend considers himself lucky that he was never a problem that needed to be solved by Dennis Farina.

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posted by Etrigan at 12:07 PM on July 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


"FIND MY FRIEND A NICE JEWISH DOCTOR!!"

As a character actor, I was always impressed by his ability to play both good guys and bad guys in a way that made you pay attention.

Fuck
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posted by dry white toast at 12:10 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's amazing how much Farina looked like an archetypal East Coast cop, if such a thing exists. He had a good run, for sure.
posted by planetesimal at 12:10 PM on July 22, 2013


Wow, that's a loss. He was awesome.
posted by nevercalm at 12:10 PM on July 22, 2013


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posted by From Bklyn at 12:11 PM on July 22, 2013


Damn. I loved his performance in Midnight Run. And for anyone who hasn't seen Thief, by the way, track it down and watch it right now. It's brilliant, horrible, captivating, etc. etc. It's everything people say about Drive, particularly in terms of its depiction of LA as something much grimier, murkier and bleak than the standard Hollywood depiction of the city.
posted by Len at 12:12 PM on July 22, 2013


I once was watching him in L&O with an old boyfriend's mother, and she was the one who told me he'd been a cop - and pointed out that he still held his gun on camera the way a real cop would. "Watch when there's a bunch of cops running," she pointed out. "Everyone else holds them up in the air, because they're actors and that's how they've been trained to do it because it looks good on camera. He holds it down pointing to the ground, because that's what actual cops do."

Sending a Chicago PD bagpipe corps out for you, sir.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:12 PM on July 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


Fuck.
posted by Ber at 12:14 PM on July 22, 2013


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posted by Cash4Lead at 12:22 PM on July 22, 2013


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posted by but no cigar at 12:22 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Farina was among the actors who embodied the "Hey. it's that guy!" trope.

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posted by Gelatin at 12:24 PM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Even though it was set in the early 60s, because it was located in Chicago, Crime Story had an "Untouchables" quality to it -- cops in big hats and overcoats fighting criminals in big hats and overcoats. One critic at the time said the show sometimes seemed like a shootout in a Hasidic neighborhood.

Which, I was pleased to discover when it came out, was sort of a plot point of Snatch.

RIP.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:24 PM on July 22, 2013


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The link zzazazz posted above had me crying with laughter in the theater when I first saw it.
posted by cmfletcher at 12:25 PM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


He was so good I even enjoyed the recent Comcast commercial he was in. What a loss.
posted by botono9 at 12:28 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by Renoroc at 12:29 PM on July 22, 2013


I loved him on Law and Order. It would be impossible to replace Orbach, but I don’t see how you could do any better than he did.
posted by bongo_x at 12:39 PM on July 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


One of my favorite scenes (warning: violence) from Get Shorty, and the source of zzazazz's quote above. I too liked him in everything I saw him in. Sorry to see him go.
posted by Brak at 12:41 PM on July 22, 2013


Ah rats, it's already linked in the post. Sorry about that, Rangeboy!
posted by Brak at 12:44 PM on July 22, 2013


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Farina in "Midnight Run" was a perfect blue-collar crime boss. My roommate and I used to say "I'll get up and bury this telephone in your head" to each other way too often, and he even put it on a mix tape he sent me while I was studying abroad.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:48 PM on July 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


And he was so lovable as Jennifer Lopez's dad in Out of Sight.

Fuck.
posted by Max Udargo at 12:49 PM on July 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


Fuck.

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posted by PROD_TPSL at 12:50 PM on July 22, 2013


DF once said that Barney Miller was the most accurate depiction of work as a police detective he'd ever seen on TV.

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posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 12:52 PM on July 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


I actually enjoyed him on Law and Order. His character was a change from Lennie, and he really seemed to realize it and play a character as far from his predecessor as possible, the way that Jerry Orbach did when he came on. I can see why people might not have reacted to him completely positively - there was a bit of a plot point that he wasn't nearly as clean as Briscoe, but then Briscoe wasn't totally clean either - but that just made his character, to me, more interesting, wondering to him what the line was.

And yeah, he was a "hey, look, its that guy" kind of actor, but he always brought a presence with him.

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posted by mephron at 12:57 PM on July 22, 2013


And he was so lovable as Jennifer Lopez's dad in Out of Sight.

Came in to say the same thing. My first thought with him is always "Shut up and sit down you big-balled fuck!" (or perhaps "big, bald fuck") but I love how he was able to bring such paternal sweetness to Out of Sight.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:01 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


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He was no longer "that guy" to me, after his second appearance on Miami Vice.
posted by ogooglebar at 1:05 PM on July 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


Jeez, I'm actually watching Law & Order right now.
posted by Katemonkey at 1:20 PM on July 22, 2013


I thought it was a mistake to kill his character off this past season on the crappy sitcom New Girl, but I guess it doesn't matter now.

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posted by cropshy at 1:24 PM on July 22, 2013


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And now I go on a Dennis Farina Netflix binge...
posted by RainyJay at 1:28 PM on July 22, 2013


All of the hosts of Unsolved Mysteries are gone...

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posted by smoothvirus at 1:33 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, what a shame. I've loved watching him since I saw "Midnight Run"
posted by rmd1023 at 1:35 PM on July 22, 2013


I used to get him mixed up with the guy that told Pesci to "go get his fuckin' shine-box" in Goodfellas . Eventually I figured it out. His performances in Out of Sight and Get Shorty were pitch perfect, like he sprang fully-formed from Elmore Leonard's head.

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posted by wabbittwax at 1:39 PM on July 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


I used to get him mixed up with the guy that told Pesci to "go get his fuckin' shine-box" in Goodfellas.

For years, I was certain Dennis Farina had played that character. It drove me crazy that I couldn't find Goodfellas listed on his filmography. After I sorted it out, I figured Frank Vincent's performance was an homage to Dennis Farina.
posted by ogooglebar at 1:47 PM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Fuck.
posted by brundlefly at 1:48 PM on July 22, 2013


Two anecdotes:

1. He was a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan and starred in the revival of Bleacher Bums. I remember seeing him on TV at the Bartman Game in 2003. I remember thinking that his first reaction must've been an long diatribe of curse words.

2. I'm from the area, and like to entertain people with a spiel in the accent of a typical Chicago Joe named "Mike Grabowski." People always think I'm doing Ditka, but in reality, I'm imitating Dennis Farina.

Fuck, indeed.
posted by zooropa at 1:57 PM on July 22, 2013


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posted by Peach at 1:59 PM on July 22, 2013


. Fuck.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 2:02 PM on July 22, 2013


Liked him on L&O, loved him in Snatch.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:03 PM on July 22, 2013


Aw, so sad. I loved Dennis in everything, but I've seen Midnight Run about 15 times. Whenever one of my dogs gets hyper, "[Dogname], relax, have a cream soda" is my go-to line!
posted by FelliniBlank at 2:03 PM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


God, yes, he could say "fuck" like nobody else in the business. Better go get "Get Shorty" from Netflix.

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posted by skycrashesdown at 2:16 PM on July 22, 2013


He was no longer "that guy" to me, after his second appearance on Miami Vice.

Yes! This! And then, anytime I saw him in anything, I just lit up inside. He was SO GOOD at being sweet and menacing at the same time, in a way that always ended up being hilarious. I adore actors like him, who are game for being ridiculous, but who take it to some deeper level. And holy fuck could he carry off a tacky shiny suit.
posted by flyingsquirrel at 2:33 PM on July 22, 2013


"You better start getting more personally involved in your work, or I'm gonna stab you through the heart with a fuckin pencil. You understand me?"

Man, how often do lines like that come along?

The "fuck" field is pretty crowded. Farina's "jagoff" was perfect. You almost never hear anyone deliver that word believably in a film. Ed Harris maybe.
But Farina was able to surround any profanity to make it sound justified and rooted in real frustration and anger.

He was in the first Manhunter with William Petersen. He works perfectly as Jack Crawford being a regular agent and the foil for Graham being the (then) template for the genius profiler.

The mood builds from the visceral "fuck it" Farina delivers to Petersen's revelation "Have him peel the top label back...it does doesn't it." - and Farina stares at him. He brings the mood to that grind it out level most law enforcement works on that makes the change in mood with the revelation work.

Mann's genius sure. But Farina could genuinely act.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:37 PM on July 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


And then, anytime I saw him in anything, I just lit up inside.

Me, too. When I saw him in his first Miami Vice episode, he was "that guy," like, "I must have seen that guy in something before this," and I was amazed when I figured out I hadn't.
posted by ogooglebar at 2:44 PM on July 22, 2013



Jeez, I'm actually watching Law & Order right now.
posted by Katemonkey at 4:20 PM


Someone somewhere is always watching Law & Order. I fall asleep to it every night. RIP, Dennis Farina.
posted by maggieb at 3:01 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by jquinby at 3:06 PM on July 22, 2013


I remember an L&O episode where the police captain got in trouble and had to gingerly ask Farina's character to lie for her, and he didn't even bat an eye and said "sure". The way he reacted was just such an encapsulation of the character (and made it distinct from Lt. Briscoe).

And then, Midnight Run, natch. He's the only guy in that film that didn't steal my badge.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 3:42 PM on July 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


He had an easy naturalism. Between that and his fetching mid-western accent, he almost always made his movies a net plus in fun to watch. Second or third that he was good as Jack Crawford in the old Thomas Harris adaptation: Manhunter. "It's Gateway, Will." Is a great moment.
posted by Trochanter at 3:55 PM on July 22, 2013


"Have you spoken to Mr. Palmer since your husband blew up?"

Safe travels Mr. Farina.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 4:04 PM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


I loved watching him in Crime Story, and in everything since. I'll miss his presence in movies and TV.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:44 PM on July 22, 2013


"Crime Story" was gone too soon, but fortunately we got to see a lot more examples of entertaining work from Dennis Farina after that. Always enjoyed seeing him whenever he popped up onscreen.

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posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 4:49 PM on July 22, 2013


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posted by Token Meme at 5:33 PM on July 22, 2013


"Moron number 1? Put Moron number 2 on the phone."
posted by Ike_Arumba at 5:35 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Loved him on Law and Order. His character was all Gucci loafers and a wool overcoat, I think the first episode he was in was all about "how can he afford this on a cop's salary?" but then Green was a profligate gambler so it was like "who's the real bad cop here?" and so on and so forth. Love that he was called "Denny" throughout his life, also.
posted by polly_dactyl at 5:49 PM on July 22, 2013


I hear the fucking smog is why you have such beautiful fucking sunsets.

Fuck (you, fuckball). :(
posted by biscotti at 5:59 PM on July 22, 2013


As I read this thread and laugh at some of the great lines he got to deliver, it strikes me that, honestly, a lot of them are actually... not that great without being in that authentic voice that Dennis Farina could bring to almost cartoonishly neo-noir heavies and cops.

"i.e., e.g., fuck you!" would come off as mawkishly dumb, petulantly anti-intellectual in too many actors' voices. "Is this moron number 1? Put moron number 2 on the phone," reads on the page like something Shane Black would have written on an off day, but with Dennis Farina's voice behind it? Perfect and natural.
posted by Etrigan at 6:00 PM on July 22, 2013


Damn, this is way too bad. I'll never forget bumping into him at the Cubby Bear one night after a Cubs game and him asking "did the Cubbies win?" and his reaction when I told him "no, Prior stumbled." "Prior huh? FUCK Mark Prior."
posted by playertobenamedlater at 6:20 PM on July 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


He rocked a 'stache like I never could.

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posted by tommasz at 6:55 PM on July 22, 2013


And then, Midnight Run, natch. He's the only guy in that film that didn't steal my badge.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 6:42 PM on July 22


Five bucks well spent, indeed.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:05 PM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Loved him in Crime Story.
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posted by Fibognocchi at 7:50 PM on July 22, 2013


Fuck.
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posted by ants at 8:03 PM on July 22, 2013


My nick is actually from his Law & Order character. Whenever a person would hesitate to let them in or show them possibly confidential information, he would just say "Don’t worry — we’re authorized". Which of course means nothing, but sounds official. Great actor, always loved him.
posted by Authorized User at 8:22 PM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Anyone who hasn't seen Manhunter yet and is a fan of Red Dragon really should see it. Dennis Farina is perfect in his role as is William Peterson. It one of 5 DVDs I own simply because of Dennis' chemistry with William Peterson. Great, great movie.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 8:29 PM on July 22, 2013


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posted by rahnefan at 8:57 PM on July 22, 2013


Yup, that second Miami Vice episode, at the end there was a scene where, after his character made a controversial choice, he just shrugged. Loved him ever since. He was a natural.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 9:13 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


He's who I always imagined playing the Comedian.
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posted by Mister Moofoo at 12:51 AM on July 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


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posted by On the Corner at 3:57 AM on July 23, 2013


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posted by Not The Stig at 4:35 AM on July 23, 2013


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posted by Golden Eternity at 8:47 AM on July 23, 2013


I'm from the area, and like to entertain people with a spiel in the accent of a typical Chicago Joe named "Mike Grabowski." People always think I'm doing Ditka, but in reality, I'm imitating Dennis Farina.

Ditka might be The Coach, but his accent is pure Pittsburgh.

I first became aware of Dennis Farina in beer commercials.

He's also the uncle that many Chicagoans have known, who would have this conversation with a troubled youth, staring directly into his eyes and never blinking: "Hey kid, I hear you like drinking and driving. Did you know I'm a cop? Well, lemme tell ya what happens when you drink and drive. I was minding my own business one night ...[long story that ends with] ... and then I had to dig through this guy's guts just to get his wallet so I could go ring his poor mother's doorbell and tell her what happened to him. Don't drink and drive, kid."
posted by gjc at 9:42 AM on July 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Loved him in Big Trouble. Goddamn Gators fans.
posted by Brocktoon at 5:11 PM on July 23, 2013


One of my long-time celebrity crushes.

(Still mourning John Spencer, btw.)

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posted by she's not there at 9:39 PM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


This seriously broke my heart when I heard. I am definitely one of his biggest fans. Crime Story is still one of my favorite series ever.

Did anybody besides me watch his short-lived series Buddy Faro? He played this old Rat Pack style detective who's brought out of "retirement" by Frank Whaley (who bizarrely isn't even mentioned in the imdb summary). It was adorable, and I've always wished I could have seen the episodes CBS didn't air. My friend bought me an autographed script on eBay as a birthday present, which I still have. Sniff.
posted by emcat8 at 9:53 PM on July 23, 2013


Late to the thread. My sister was Dennis Farina's agent when he first started acting. She said that she never had a client who was more fun to be around and more grateful for every opportunity to act.

She once fixed the two of us up on a blind date, just as he was starting to be well known for Crime Story. We went to an Italian restaurant - the kind of place with a map of Italy on paper placemats, and lots of veal dishes on the menu. It was a lovely evening - never repeated, but it has always been fun to be able to say that I once dated a movie star.

By the way, I don't think he cursed even once, unlike the characters he played.
posted by tizzie at 10:55 AM on July 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


Before this thread closes, the funeral was today. Many Chicago cops were in attendance. Joel Murray linked to this Tribune photo, which is great, and posted to Facebook: "I'm sure has his choice of any seat in the bleachers today. Doing Bleacher Bums back in '89 was an absolute joy every night. Being able to listen to the stories of Dennis, Joey Montegna, JJ Johnstone, Ron Dean et al was a kid actor's dream come true, PLUS I got a free Frosty Malt every night. Farina could not have been nicer to me and always exuded pure class. When I moved to Los Angeles, it seemed he would go out of his way to lose money to Ed Blatchford and I on the golf course. I will always think of him with the utmost respect. RIP my friend."
posted by tizzie at 12:17 PM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


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