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Actor Dennis Farina was suffering from cancer before death

Actor Dennis Farina arrives at the Hollywood premiere of the HBO series "Luck" in Los Angeles, California January 25, 2012. REUTERS/Gus Ruel
Actor Dennis Farina arrives at the Hollywood premiere of the HBO series "Luck" in Los Angeles, California January 25, 2012. REUTERS/Gus Ruel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Dennis Farina, the actor best known for his role as a tough-talking detective in the NBC television crime drama "Law & Order," was being treated for lung cancer when he died earlier this week, his doctor said on Wednesday.

The former Chicago cop who turned to acting and found fame playing mobsters and policemen in films and on TV died from a blood clot in Scottsdale, Arizona, on Monday at the age of 69.

His cardiologist, Dr. Marc A. Kates, said the actor had suffered a recurrence of a cancer that had been diagnosed 13 years ago.

"Over the last several months, he unfortunately experienced a recurrence of the cancer which was being treated. Despite treatment, over the weekend, a blood clot developed in Mr. Farina's lung which unexpectedly and suddenly took his life," Kates, said in a statement released by the actor's publicist.

Farina is survived by three sons, six grandchildren and his partner of 35 years, Marianne Cahill.

The Chicago-born actor started his film career in 1981 in the Michael Mann movie "Thief" and went on to play mobsters in the 1988 comic action-adventure "Midnight Run," starring Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin, and in the 1995 gangster satire "Get Shorty," with John Travolta and Gene Hackman.

From 1986 to 1988 he appeared in the NBC television series "Crime Story," portraying Lieutenant Mike Torello, head of the Chicago Police Department's organized crime unit.

His role on "Law & Order," from 2004-06 also drew on his real-life experience a policeman with his character on the show, Joe Fontana, landing in the New York Police Department via Chicago.

Farina's final starring role was in the short-lived HBO TV mob and horse-racing drama "Luck," opposite Dustin Hoffman. The critically acclaimed series was canceled after its first season due to the death of three horses during production.

(Reporting by Patricia Reaney, editing by Eric Kelsey and Cynthia Osterman)

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