A veteran actor known for a series of high-profile TV and film appearances, including playing the father of George Clooney’s character on “E.R.,” has died, the Los Angeles Times reports. James Farentino, 73, died Tuesday in a Los Angeles hospital, where he reportedly suffered heart failure after a long illness.
Farentino won a Golden Globe as most promising newcomer in 1967 for the movie “The Pad and How to Use It.” He later made his greatest impact in television, and was nominated for an Emmy as supporting actor for his portrayal of Saint Peter in NBC’s 1977 production “Jesus of Nazareth.”
He played Ray Ross, the estranged father of George Clooney’s character, on “E.R.” in a 1996 story arc, and had major roles on “Dynasty” and “Blue Thunder” in the 1980s.
He worked regularly on television from the 1960s through the 1980s, but his career suffered for a period in the 1990s because of a stalking incident involving Tina Sinatra, the daughter of Frank Sinatra, the Times reports.
According to the Times: “In 1994 Farentino pleaded no contest to stalking singer 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 pair had previously had a stormy, five-year off-and-on relationship.”
Farentino commented on that period in a 2003 interview with the Times, saying: "The roles started to get smaller and smaller with less value, and it was like, ‘What am I doing here?’ … My behavior was appalling — feeling so hurt and rejected that I was the victim when I really wasn’t. So you inflict your pain on someone else to make them identify with you."
Farentino’s long list of TV appearances also included roles on “Melrose Place” and “The Bold Ones: The Lawyers,” along with guest spots on “Run for Your Life,” “The Virginian,” “Ironside” and many other shows.
He is survived by his fourth wife, Stella, and two sons, David and Saverio.