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Sneed: Dennis Farina’s funeral fit for a centurion

Chicago Police Sgt. Greg Reynolds prepares drive 1972 Chicago Police squad car Dennis Farina's funeral cortege. MICHAEL SNEED/SUN-TIMES

Chicago Police Sgt. Greg Reynolds prepares to drive the 1972 Chicago Police squad car in Dennis Farina's funeral cortege. MICHAEL SNEED/SUN-TIMES

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Updated: September 1, 2013 6:35AM

The Farina file . . .

In the end, former Chicago cop turned actor Dennis Farina was given the burial of a centurion, not an actor.

“Like a centurion in ancient Rome, he had been a policeman who stood in the midst of a human mess, drenched in the blood, sweat and tears faced every day in a storm of life,” said the Rev. Thomas Nangle, the legendary former Chicago Police chaplain who delivered Farina’s eulogy Tuesday at Assumption Catholic Church.

◆Translation: After decades as a successful actor, it was Chicago’s finest who said a final goodbye to a man who was one of their own for 18 years.

Although actors William “CSI” Petersen and John “Frasier” Mahoney showed up at Farina’s wake Monday night, the thespian contingent of Farina’s Chicago pals (Tom Dreesen, Joe Mantegna, Dennis Franz and Gary Sinise) were unable to make it to the funeral because of scheduling conflicts.

In a scene torn out of a Joseph Wambaugh crime novel, a phalanx of off-duty police cars spinning Mars lights and police officers standing at attention led Farina’s funeral cortege.

And like a true script ending, a 1972 Chicago Police squad car similar to the one Farina drove during his tenure as a CPD detective careened into the head of the line, driven by Chicago Police Sgt. Greg Reynolds.

Nangle talked to Farina on July 18, shortly before his death in Arizona. He was one of the few Farina confidants who knew the actor had cancer.

“He was a very private man,” said Farina’s former cop partner Nick Nickeas, who told Sneed last week that Farina “didn’t even tell me he had cancer.”

“Long before God created yuppies, Dennis [the cop] would be hanging out at Mike’s dirty, filthy tavern on Webster Avenue with the rest of his buddies, looking like he stepped out of Gentlemen’s Quarterly magazine,” Nangle said.

“At the end of life, it’s not what can be measured that counts, but what counts that can be measured,” said Nangle. “He was unfailingly gracious, polite and generous. He had a beloved for 34 years (his companion, Marianne Cahill); he knew and loved his family and friends . . . and knew the meaning of loyalty.

“He was a detective who knew the streets and could see around corners and look through walls. He went to Hollywood, but he never went Hollywood. And he knew he had caught a lot of luck and breaks,” Nangle said.

Farina snagged a part in the Michael Mann film “Thief” in 1981, when he was working as a cop. He was a natural. His acting career was almost twice as long as his cop job — he starred in “Law & Order,” “Crime Story,” “The Last Rites of Joe May” and co-starred in the hit film “That Old Feeling” with Bette Midler, whom he adored.

Restaurateur Tony “Gene and Georgetti” Durpetti, who grew up with Farina, told Sneed: “He used to come to my house to eat my mother’s delicious ravioli. She used to dry the pasta on the beds. I mean our place was small. So he used to kid us about not having a place to sleep because the beds were loaded with mom’s ravioli.

“He was a terrific guy. But he always thought he was Frank Sinatra. Or Dean Martin. He always thought they were cool. He once came into the restaurant . . . and spotted Sinatra’s picture near the bar. He said, ‘So, hey, I’m not good enough?’

“Believe me, his picture went up near the bar right after that,” chirped Durpetti. “He was quite a character.”

The Daley dossier. . .

It’s sweet: Sneed is told former Mayor Rich Daley, whose beloved wife, Maggie, died in 2011 — has been steadily dating Dr. Adele Joy Cobbs since last November — and was driven home from a recent date by a good friend — a priest who was a top aide to the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin — according to a Sneed source. How’s that for a chaperone? (Daley calls his emergency room doc “Joy.” Why not? He deserves it.)

Sneedlings . . .

Wednesday’s birthdays: Wesley Snipes, 51; J.K. Rowling, 48, and Dean Cain, 47.

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