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Actor Dennis Farina Dies at Age 69

Vivien Killilea/WireImage(SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.) -- Actor Dennis Farina, who starred as Det. Joe Fontana on NBC's Law & Order, has died.  He was 69.

In a statement provided to ABC News, Farina's publicist writes, "Dennis Farina died suddenly this morning in Scottsdale, AZ after suffering a blood clot in his lung.  Farina was born Feb. 29, 1944 in Chicago.  He is survived by three sons, six grandchildren and the love of his life of 35 years, Marianne Cahill."

Farina's acting career began while he was serving as a police officer in Chicago, when he was hired by director Michael Mann as a consultant on his 1981 film, Thief.  That work led to Farina leaving his 18-year police career behind for an acting career that saw him often play law enforcement officials and, ironically, mobsters and other criminals, in films that included Manhunter, Midnight Run and Get Shorty.  He also had a flair for comedy, demonstrated in numerous films and on television, including a recurring role in the Zooey Deschanel comedy New Girl.  Farina most recently starred in the HBO series Lucky.

In lieu of flowers, Farina's publicist asks that donations be made to The 100 Club of Chicago, which assists families of fallen Chicago-area police officers.

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