I first met Dennis Farina in 1979. I was assigned to take a report from an off duty police officer. Dennis was living in a small apartment near 24th and Oakley. His city car was broken into and some items were stolen. Dennis exuded personality. He especially became friendlier when he realized I lived around the corner from him in a similar small apartment. Several single, separated, and divorced police officers lived in the neighborhood at that time. Rents were cheap and it was centrally located. You could get to work anywhere in the city in short time. It was the original "Boys Town" as the "boys" from the police department lived there. What is now "Boys Town", on the north side, was called New Town back then.
Later I would run into Mr. Farina at various functions or what is known as the Police Mass at Mercy Boys Home, when he was in town. Dennis Farina was a true gentleman. Even after he became a movie and television star, he remained one of the nicest people you ever met. He was a child of Chicago and never forgot his roots. He was down to earth, approachable, and a true gentleman in every sense of the word.
Mr. Farina was born and raised in Old Town. He attended St. Michael's elementary and high schools. He was a true Chicago guy. He kept a residence here and visited often.
When the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation was seeking donations to build the Chicago Police Memorial, Mr. Farina donated his time and the cachet of his fame to help raise money for the project. He was often joined by another television star and Chicagoan, Larry Manetti of Magnum P.I. fame.
Dennis Farina spent 18 years as a Chicago Police Officer and Detective. He moonlighted as an actor in Chicago's emerging theater community. A chance meeting with Michael Mann landed him a role in the movie Thief. Mr. Farina never looked back.
No matter how many movies and television shows he made, Dennis Farina was a typical Chicago guy through and through. He was humble, shy, and always willing to lend a hand. He was proud of his hometown and his police department. Mr. Farina was proud to be a son of Chicago and proud to be a member of the Chicago Police family.
Dennis Farina will be missed by those who knew him and his Chicago Police Department family. Chicago suffered a great loss with the death of Dennis Farina.
Chicago Tribune reporter and another Old Town neighborhood boy, Rick Kogan has the best take on Dennis Farina, the man and person.
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