July 22, 2013 3:02 pm

Dennis Farina, star of ‘Law & Order,’ dead at 69

AP Photo/File

NEW YORK – Dennis Farina, a onetime Chicago cop who as a popular character actor played a TV cop on Law & Order during his wide-ranging career, has died.

Death came Monday morning in a Scottsdale, Ariz., hospital after Farina suffered a blood clot in his lung, according to his publicist, Lori De Waal. He was 69.

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For three decades, Farina was a character actor who displayed remarkable dexterity, charm and toughness, making effective use of his craggy face, husky frame, ivory smile and ample moustache. He could be as dapper as Fred Astaire and as full of threat as Clint Eastwood. His gift has been described as wry, tough-guy panache, and audiences loved him for it.

“Sometimes you can take those dramatic roles and maybe interject a little humour into them, and I think the reverse also works,” Farina said in a 2007 interview with The Associated Press. “One of the funny things in life to me is a guy who takes himself very seriously.”

Farina’s many films include Saving Private Ryan, (1998), Out Of Sight (1998), Midnight Run (1988), Manhunter (1986), and his breakout and perhaps most beloved film, Get Shorty (1995), a comedic romp where he played a Miami mob boss.

He recently completed shooting a comedy film, Lucky Stiff.

Among his numerous TV roles was Detective Joe Fontana on Law & Order during the 2004-06 seasons, replacing longtime cast member Jerry Orbach in the ensemble.

Law & Order executive producer Dick Wolf said he was “stunned and saddened to hear about Dennis’ unexpected passing this morning. The Law & Order family extends sympathy and condolences to his family.”

Also on TV, Farina was a regular in the star-studded though short-lived 2011-12 HBO horse-track drama Luck.

He starred in the 1980s cult favourite Crime Story, and his stylish private-eye drama Buddy Faro (1998) was warmly received if little-watched. He followed that up with a 2002 sitcom flop, The In-Laws.

© The Canadian Press, 2013

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