James Farentino

Actor
A handsome, sometimes brooding American actor with great promise as a leading man, James Farentino demonstrated his skills in a wide variety of roles on stage and screen. After starting his career on Broadway, Farentino ... Read more »
Born: 02/23/1938 in Brooklyn, New York, USA

Filmography

Actor (73)

U.S. Marshals: The Real Story: Street Smarts 2001 - 2002 (TV Show)

Narrator

The Last Producer 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)

Actor

Women of the Night 1999 (Movie)

(Actor)

Melrose Place 1998 (Tv Show)

Actor

Termination Man 1997 (Movie)

(Actor)

Bulletproof 1996 (Movie)

Captain Jensen (Actor)

Crimes of the Century (03/03/96) 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)

Actor

ER 1996 (Tv Show)

Actor

Judith Kranz's Dazzle 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)

Actor

Outlaws and Lawmen 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)

Narrator

The Spy Within 1994 (Movie)

(Actor)

Julie 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

American Nuclear 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

Dynasty 1980 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

Her Alibi 1989 (Movie)

Frank Polito (Actor)

Family Sins 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)

Actor

The Red Spider 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)

Actor

Mary 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Actor

Picking Up the Pieces 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Actor

Sins 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Actor

The Television Academy Hall of Fame 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Actor

A Summer to Remember 1984 - 1985 (TV Show)

Actor

Blue Thunder 1983 - 1984 (TV Show)

Actor

License to Kill 1983 - 1984 (TV Show)

Actor

Dead and Buried 1982 (Movie)

Sheriff Dan Gillis (Actor)

The Final Countdown 1980 (Movie)

Commander Richard Owens (Actor)

Silent Victory: The Kitty O'Neil Story 1978 - 1979 (TV Show)

Actor

Emily, Emily 1976 - 1977 (TV Show)

Actor

The Possessed 1976 - 1977 (TV Show)

Actor

My Wife Next Door 1975 - 1976 (TV Show)

Actor

Crossfire 1974 - 1975 (TV Show)

Actor

Mitzi and a Hundred Guys 1974 - 1975 (TV Show)

Actor

Love Story 1973 - 1974 (TV Show)

Actor

The Elevator 1973 - 1974 (TV Show)

Actor

Cool Million 1972 - 1973 (TV Show)

Actor

The First Nine Months Are the Hardest 1970 - 1971 (TV Show)

Actor

Vanished 1970 - 1971 (TV Show)

Actor

Me, Natalie 1969 (Movie)

David Harris (Actor)

Storia di una Donna 1969 (Movie)

Bruno Cardini (Actor)

Banning 1967 (Movie)

Chris Patton (Actor)

Death of a Salesman 1965 - 1966 (TV Show)

Actor

Rosie 1966 (Movie)

David (Actor)

The Ride to Hangman's Tree 1966 (Movie)

Matt Stone (Actor)

The Pad, and How to Use It 1965 (Movie)

Ted Veasey (Actor)

Ensign Pulver 1964 (Movie)

Insigna (Actor)

The War Lord 1964 (Movie)

Marc (Actor)

Common Ground (TV Show)

Actor

Cool Million (TV Show)

Actor

Evita Peron (TV Show)

Actor

Intimate Portrait: Linda Evans (TV Show)

Narrator

Jesus of Nazareth (TV Show)

Actor

Miles From Nowhere (TV Show)

Actor

Naked Lie (TV Show)

Actor

One Woman's Courage (TV Show)

Actor

Sins (TV Show)

Actor

Something So Right (TV Show)

Actor

Son Rise: A Miracle of Love (TV Show)

Actor

That Secret Sunday (TV Show)

Actor

The Cradle Will Fall (TV Show)

Actor

The Family Rico (TV Show)

Actor

The Longest Night (TV Show)

Actor

The Possessed (Movie)

Kevin Leahy (Actor)

The Sound of Anger (TV Show)

Actor

The Whole World Is Watching (TV Show)

Actor

When No One Would Listen (TV Show)

Actor

Who Gets the Friends? (TV Show)

Actor

Wings of Fire (TV Show)

Actor

murder in the mirror (TV Show)

Actor

Biography

A handsome, sometimes brooding American actor with great promise as a leading man, James Farentino demonstrated his skills in a wide variety of roles on stage and screen. After starting his career on Broadway, Farentino transitioned to film and television in the early 1960s, before becoming a leading man in "The Pad And How to Use It" (1966). He played Happy Loman in a telecast of "Death of a Salesman" (CBS, 1966) and later starred as the brutish Stanley Kowalski in a Broadway revival of "A Streetcar Named Desire" (1972). That same year, Farentino starred in his own detective series, "Cool Million" (NBC, 1972), and followed with his biggest role of the decade, and perhaps his career, by playing the apostle Simon Peter in the seminal miniseries "Jesus of Nazareth" (NBC, 1977), which earned him an Emmy nomination. Turns as Juan Peron in the biopic "Evita Peron" (NBC, 1981) and the helicopter pilot on the short-lived cop series "Blue Thunder" (ABC, 1984) followed. From there, Farentino struggled to maintain consistency, appearing infrequently on the small screen throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Meanwhile, the actor found his legacy tarnished with a string of failed marriages, a charge of cocaine possession in 1991, a conviction for stalking former girlfriend Tina Sinatra in 1993, and an arrest for battery in 2010. The controversies were that much more regrettable as they overshadowed a talented actor's long and versatile career, which ultimately ended rather quietly with his death in 2012.

Born Feb. 24, 1938 in Brooklyn, NY, James Ferrantino was the son of Helen, a homemaker, and Anthony, a clothing designer. After tweaking his last name, he made his Broadway debut in a small role in Tennessee Williams' "The Night of the Iguana" in 1961 and quickly moved on to success in television and films, making only isolated returns to the stage. His film debut came in the forgotten thriller "Psychomania/Violent Midnight" (1963) and he next appeared in "Ensign Pulver" (1964) before catching a break with the lead in 1966's "The Pad...(And How to Use It)," as the hip friend of Brian Bedford who gives him advice on how to be a swinger. Farentino stole the movie and earned a Golden Globe Award as Most Promising Newcomer, but as the late 1960s were a difficult time for conventional leading men, the actor found good roles were sparse. After appearing in the ensemble melodrama "Banning" (1967) and opposite Patty Duke in "Me, Natalie" (1969), Farentino found better opportunities on television, beginning with his regular role as a novice, unorthodox attorney in the NBC series "The Lawyers" (1969-1972), which aired under the umbrella of "The Bold Ones."

After the case closed on "The Lawyers," Farentino segued into more series work as a CIA agent turned private investigator in "Cool Million" (NBC, 1972-73). He was Stanley Kowalski in the 25th anniversary production of "A Streetcar Named Desire" on Broadway in 1972 - for which he won a Theatre World Award - and won the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Guest Artist for his work as McMurphy in a 1973 Chicago production of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." In 1975, he tackled the role of the older son Biff in a revival of Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman;" he previous played younger son Happy in a 1966 CBS telecast. For his portrayal of Simon Peter in the 1977 NBC miniseries "Jesus of Nazareth," he earned an Emmy nomination, and Farentino essayed a memorable Juan Perón opposite Faye Dunaway's "Evita Perón" (NBC, 1981). The actor also appeared as the mysterious Dr. Nick Toscanni on the iconic nighttime soap "Dynasty" (ABC, 1981-89) and filmed the miniseries "Sins" (CBS, 1986) opposite its queen bee, Joan Collins. When he found the occasional film role, it was usually as men of power like the Navy commander from the past in the time-traveling Pearl Harbor adventure "The Final Countdown" (1980). In 1984, Farentino played the human lead to a police helicopter on the short-lived "Blue Thunder" (ABC) before trying a romantic role as the newsroom boss and love interest of Mary Tyler Moore on "Mary" (CBS).

He was on surer ground in the role of the district attorney and adversary to Tom Selleck in the feature "Her Alibi" (1989), and as Boston Mayor Kevin White in "Common Ground," the 1990 CBS miniseries about school busing in Boston. Real-life legal woes interceded on his career when he was arrested and charged with cocaine possession after Royal Canadian Mounted Police intercepted a package sent to his hotel room. Ironically, the trouble-prone actor was teamed romantically with the pristine Julie Andrews on her short-lived ABC sitcom "Julie" (1992). Farentino played an abusive husband opposite his real-life ex-wife Michele Lee in "When No One Would Listen" (CBS, 1992), and embodied the doomed Jose Menendez in the 1994 Fox miniseries "Honor Thy Father and Mother: The True Story of the Menendez Murders."

Farentino's love life was famously complicated - he had four ex-wives in total, including the actresses Elizabeth Ashley and Michele Lee - and he pled no contest to a 1994 charge of stalking ex-girlfriend Tina Sinatra. Despite his illustrious résumé - not counting all his roles, he was one of Universal's last contract players - Farentino found quality work hard to come by as he aged, although a few projects stood out. He notched strong arcs on the hit shows "Melrose Place" (Fox, 1992-99) opposite Jack Wagner, and "ER" (NBC, 1994-2009) as George Clooney's dad, as well as had a supporting role opposite ex-wife Michele Lee in "Scandalous Me: The Jacqueline Susann Story" (USA Network, 1998). He worked occasionally the following decade, but made his biggest headlines with additional legal trouble in 2010. Police were called to Farentino's home on June 13, and they took him into custody after another man, who suffered visible bruises, pressed charges of battery against the actor. Meanwhile, his health began to deteriorate and he fell off the public radar until Jan. 24, 2012, when news broke that he had died from heart failure following a lengthy battle with the illness. Farentino was 73 years old.

By Jonathan Riggs

Relationships

Elizabeth Ashley Actor

Wife
Married on Sept. 1, 1962 Divorced in April 1965

David Farentino Actor

Son
Born July 6, 1969; mother, Michele Lee Co-starred in the CBS movie "When No One Would Listen" (1992)

Debrah Farentino Actor

Wife
Married on June 15, 1985 Divorced in June 1987

Stella Farentino Actor

Wife
Married on Aug. 3, 1994 She filed for divorce in 1998, but later withdrew petition; he then filed for divorce in January 2001

Anthony Ferrantino

Father

Helen Ferrantino

Mother

Michele Lee Actor

Wife
Married on Feb. 20, 1966 Divorced on June 22, 1983 Co-starred in the CBS movie "When No One Would Listen" (1992)

Tina Sinatra Actor

Companion
Dated on-and-off for five years No longer together Farentino pled no contest to a 1994 charge of stalking her

EDUCATION

American Academy of Dramatic Arts

New York , New York

Milestones

2006

Final TV movie role, "Drive/II"

2003

Made theater comeback in the Geffen Playhouse production of "Boy Gets Girl"

2001

Appeared in the erotic thriller "Women of the Night," directed by Zalman King

2000

Co-starred with Jane Seymour in the mystery drama "Murder in the Mirror" (CBS)

1998

Made a multi-episode appearance on the Fox drama "Melrose Place"

1994

Played Jose Menendez in "Honor They Father and Mother: The True Story of the Menendez Murders" (Fox)

1992

Played an abusive husband opposite ex-wife Michele Lee in CBS TV-movie "When No One Would Listen"

1992

Cast as Julie Andrews' husband on the short-lived ABC sitcom "Julie"

1985

Played the love interest for Mary Tyler Moore on "Mary" (CBS)

1984

Portrayed the helicopter pilot on the short-lived ABC series "Blue Thunder," based on the 1983 action feature

1981

Played Juan Peron opposite Faye Dunaway in the NBC biopic "Evita Peron"

1981

Appeared on the ABC series "Dynasty" for one season as Dr. Nick Toscanni

1977

Received supporting actor Emmy nomination for his role as Simon Peter in the NBC miniseries "Jesus of Nazareth"

1973

Played McMurphy in a Chicago production of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"

1972

Played Stanley Kowalski in the Broadway revival of "A Streetcar Named Desire"

1972

Returned to series TV as star of the NBC series "Cool Million"

1970

Starred in "John Dos Passos: USA"

1968

Starred in "The Lawyers" segments of the NBC series "The Bold Ones"

1967

TV-movie debut, "Wings of Fire" (NBC)

1966

Landed first leading role in a feature in "The Pad...And How To Use It"

1966

Cast as Happy Loman in the CBS telecast of Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman"

1963

Feature film debut, "Violent Midnight"

1962

Made TV debut on an episode of "Naked City" (ABC)

1961

Broadway debut, "The Night of the Iguana"

Bonus Trivia

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Farentino was arrested in Vancouver in 1991 on the charge of possession of cocaine.

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In 1994, the actor pleaded no contest to stalking Tina Sinatra (Frank Sinatra's youngest daughter) after being charged with 24 misdemeanor counts of stalking, making harassing phone calls and violating a restraining order to stay away from her. The couple had a five-year on-and-off relationship. Farentino was placed on 36 months' probation and ordered to undergo psychiatric and alcohol counseling.

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On June 14, 2010, Farentino was booked on suspicion of misdemeanor battery after a citizen's arrest was made. The man, who police said suffered bruising that was visible to officers, made a citizen's arrest on Farentino for battery, an arrest that the police believed was lawful.

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