Actor James Farentino dies at 73: Star succumbs after long illness

Jane Lasky's picture

Actor James Farentino, 73, passed away Tuesday after enduring a protracted illness that ended with heart failure while being an in patient at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, according to family spokesperson Bob Palmer.

The tried-and-true thespian enjoyed a life-long love for performing. A Brooklyn boy who made good in Hollywood, Farentino appeared on stage as well as on the big and small screens in dozens of diverse roles.

From playing George Clooney's estranged dad on ER to playing a lawyer on The Bold Ones, James was a mainstay on television in recent times. But. in the early years of his storied career, this keen artist was a Broadway baby, taking his initial turn on the Great White Way with Bette Davis and Patrick O'Neal in the Tennessee Williams classic, The Night of the Iguana.

His movie efforts were not as numerous as his work on the tube, although James Farentino did receive a Golden Globe in 1967 as most promising male newcomer for his part in the comedy called The Pad and How to Use It, which also starred Edy Williams, Julie Sommars, and Brian Bedford.

Two years later, Farentino played opposite Patty Duke in a film called Me, Natalie, a movie in which another newcomer called Al Pacino appeared with his esteemed colleagues and which marked this seminal actor's film debut.

Another assignment had the late thespian playing a Navy commander in the 1980 movie The Final Countdown alongside Kirk Douglas and Martin Sheen.

Meanwhile, TV roles always beckoned to James Farentino, with this veteran appearing on every network and in all kinds of roles. As Saint Peter in the Franco Zefirelli-directed mini-series, Jesus of Nazarethe, the performer was Emmy nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Comedy or Drama Special. He had a recurring role of Dr Nick Toscanni in the wildly popular series Dynasty with friend John Forsythe and he was Frank Chaney in a series called Blue Thunder that introduced a young actor named Dana Carvey.

James Farentino obviously believed in marriage as he took vows four times. The first, to Elisabeth Ashley, lasted five years, while one of his longest unions, with prominent stage and screen actress Michelle Lee, produced the couple's son David. He was also married to both Debrah Farentino and Stella Farentino, the latter union of which lasted until his death even though two petitions to divorce had been filed during that marriage.

James Farentino was a shining star in Hollywood, but the actor did experience his fair share of troubles in what has been referred to as a "tumultuous personal life" by Huffington Post.

In 1993, the debonaire man was accused of and charged with stalking Tina Sinatra, who was his ex-girlfriend.

Another incident, this one in Canada, had the late actor being arrested in the summer of 1991. According to many publications, including the Orlando Sentinel, Royal Canadian Mounted Police were said to have intercepted several grams of cocaine bundled in a plain paper package that was marked to be delivered his hotel suite. Charged with cocaine possession, he was released on bail.

Despite these set-backs, James Farentino endured on the Hollywood scene, and will be remembered by fans and show business types alike as well as friends and family in both his native Brooklyn and his adopted home on the left coast.

RIP, James Farentino, RIP.

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