James Farentino, best remembered for the television series The Bold Ones: The Lawyers and Dynasty, died of heart failure earlier today at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 73.
A Brooklyn native (born on Feb. 24, 1938), Farentino made his Broadway debut in the 1961 production of Tennessee Williams’ Night of the Iguana, starring Bette Davis, Margaret Leighton, and Patrick O’Neal. The following year, he began guesting on various television series, among them The Defenders, Route 66, and 77 Sunset Strip.
Despite a Golden Globe as Most Promising Newcomer - Male for Brian G. Hutton’s 1967 comedy The Pad and How to Use It, Farentino’s film career was a minor one. He did, however, play one of the leads in a more important comedy that same year, David Lowell Rich’s Rosie!, based on a play co-written by Ruth Gordon, and starring Rosalind Russell, Sandra Dee, and Brian Aherne. Additionally, Farentino was Patty Duke’s leading man in Me, Natalie, a 1969 comedy directed by Fred Coe.
After a decade-long break, Farentino returned to the big-screen in Don Taylor’s time-travel sci-fier The Final Countdown, playing opposite Kirk Douglas, Martin Sheen, and Katharine Ross. His follow-up features were few and made little impact upon their release, e.g., Bruce Beresford’s Her Alibi (1989), starring Tom Selleck and Paulina Porizkova; Fred Gallo’s Termination Man (1998), with Steve Railsback; and Burt Reynolds’ The Last Producer (2000), with Sean Astin and Benjamin Bratt.
Farentino had better opportunities on television. In addition to The Bold Ones and Dynasty, he was featured in numerous TV series and movies, including Blue Thunder, Sins, and Mary, Mary Tyler Moore’s much-ballyhooed but ultimately short-lived television comeback in the mid-1980s. In 1978, Farentino was nominated for an Emmy for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy or Drama Special for his performance as St. Peter in Franco Zeffirelli’s miniseries Jesus of Nazareth.
According to the Los Angeles Times, in 1994 Farentino pleaded no contest to stalking his ex-girlfriend, Tina Sinatra. Two of his former wives were actresses Elizabeth Ashley and Michelle Lee.
James Farentino’s death was announced only hours after the passing of Greek filmmaker Theo Angelopoulos, who was hit by a motorcycle while filming his latest feature.