A Late-Blooming Career Cut Short: Dennis Farina Passes at 69

Dennis Farina’s acting career was unique in Hollywood as one of the few actors to garner success later in life. This “late-bloomer” started his acting career at 37 years old, after almost 20 years as a Chicago police officer. He

Joe Fontana (Law & Order)

Joe Fontana (Law & Order) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

was well known as a character actor, playing a cop on NBC’s “Law & Order,” and one of the only cast members that had been on the police force in real life.

Dennis was born on February 29, 1944 to Italian parents in Chicago. His father, Joseph, was a doctor and an immigrant from Sicily. This leap-year baby would go on to serve 3 years in the military and then to serve his native city as a policeman from 1967 to 1985. He worked mostly in burglary and it was there that he was hired by director Michael Mann as a consultant for the movie “Thief” (1981), starring James Caan. Farina was given a bit part in the movie and would go on to work for Mann in future roles. After a brief stint acting in Chicago theater, he left the police force for a lead role in Mann’s television series “Crime Story” (1986). He also played mobster Albert Lombard in Mann’s other television show, “Miami Vice.”

Farina’s distinguishing looks made him perfect for his roles as a cop or a gangster. He was tall and imposing, with a memorable silver mustache. He worked steadily in both television and the movies after quitting the Chicago police force. His first major movie role was another Michael Mann movie, “Manhunter”(1986), in which he played an FBI agent. This was the first of the Hannibal Lecter films and Farina would go on to star in all three.

Farina’s most memorable movie roles were in 1998’s “Saving Private Ryan” in which he played a colonel who convinces Tom Hank’s character to rescue Private Ryan from the Nazis. He was known for his comedy roles as well as his serious characters. In “Get Shorty,” Farina received an American Comedy Actor award for his performance as “Ray ‘Bones’ Barboni, John Travolta’s rival.

Dennis Farina’s other screen credits include “Out of Sight” with Jennifer Lopez; John Frankenheimer’s “Reindeer Games,” Guy Ritchie’s “Snatch,” as well as the 2008 comedy, “Bottle Shock”. He was narrator for the TV show “Unsolved Mysteries,” replacing Robert Stack as the original host. Farina starred alongside Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher in “What Happens in Vegas” (2008). Another comedic role was in HBO’s “Empire Falls,” starring Helen Hunt and Ed Harris. His last recurring TV role was in “Luck,” the 2012 horse racing series.

Farina and his wife of 10 years, Patricia, had three sons. Joseph Farina followed in his father’s footsteps and became an actor. And sadly, Dennis Farina’s second act in life came to a close on July 22, 2013. He was only 69 years old when he died from a pulmonary embolism at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona.

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The Do-Over

This post is from Kevin @ DebtEye.com.  Kevin is a co-founder @ DebtEye.com, where he helps consumers manages their finances and find the optimal way to get out of debt. .  This is guest post is part of a blog swap for the Yakezie, answering the question “If you had one financial do-over, what would it be and why?”.

I usually look on the brighter side of things.  There’s never an incident where I wish I could go back in time and change things.  Everyone will eventually make mistakes, but it’s up to them to learn from these mistakes and make sure it never happens again.  However, if there was one moment in the past I could change, It would be not buying a house straight out of college.

Throughout my college days, I have been fortunate to have saved up enough money for a down-payment on a house.   That’s not enough to maintain debt-free living. I worked with several internet gaming companies and acted as an affiliate for them.  I saved up around $25,000 and decided to buy a condo with my brother.

I thought it would be cool to own a condo in the city.  I was really looking forward to turning this new place in a bachelor’s pad.  This was probably the worst decision I’ve made.  I always believed that it was better to buy a property instead of renting one, since some of the payment would go towards paying down the loan.  Of course, I realized that this wasn’t the smartest of ideas.

Here are some reasons why I regret it:

  1. Property Taxes:  Property taxes in Chicago are one the highest in the nation.  For a $320,000 property, annual real estate taxes were roughly about $5,800/year.  Property taxes usually go up every year, it can be difficult for some people to maintain these payments.
  2. Valuation:  Thankfully, the property only decreased 10% in the past 2 years.  It’s not as bad as some areas, but the timing to buy a property was poor.
  3. Cost:  Buying a property involves more money to spruce up the place.  New paint, new appliances, new floors, etc.  Most of us won’t get a free appliance from the government.  Many homeowners have to put in extra care of the property, so when they sell it, it’s still in great condition.

Looking hindsight, I definitely wish I rented instead of owning a home.  In this day of age, I think most people can make the clear argument that renting is worthwhile to look into.

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