American actor Dennis Franz reached the pinnacle of his success with the role of Detective Andy Sipowicz in the cop series “NYPD Blue” (1993-2005), in which his compelling performance harvested four Emmy Awards and four Emmy nominations. His role as Sipowicz ranked No.23 on Bravo’s “100 Greatest TV Characters” and became the 31st character on TV Guide’s 2004 “50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time” list. In 1998, Franz could be seen as Nathaniel Messinger in the romantic comedy City of Angels.
“They are defending our country. Thank God that we have people in this world that are willing to do it.” Dennis Franz on the US Army in service
Franz, who often plays cop roles, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He supports the United States’ Global War on Terrorism and is a board member of the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance. The animal loving actor always travels with a pet bird. He has two daughters from his marriage to Joanie Zeck.
War in Vietnam
Childhood and Family:
The son of a German immigrant, Dennis Franz was born Dennis Franz Schlacta on October 28, 1944, in Chicago, Illinois. While studying at Proviso West High School, Dennis joined his girlfriend in a try out for a part in the school play “The Crucible.” He received a role, but his girlfriend did not.
He then attended Chicago’s Wright Junior College and Southern Illinois University (majored in Speech and Theater), before being drafted into the army. Following his 11-month service in an airborne unit in Vietnam, Dennis suffered from depression. He later organized several Chicago theater companies with some college friends and joined the Organic Theatre Company.
On April 1, 1995, Dennis married Joanie Zeck. From the marriage, the actor has two daughters: Tricia and Krista.
City of Angels
Dennis Franz, who made his professional acting debut in the staging of “Cops” (starring Joe Mantegna and Meshach Taylor), co-wrote the popular play “Bleacher Bums.” Later, the production was revived in the TV films with the same title, in 1979 and 2002.
After moving to L.A., Franz earned his first screen role, as Franks, in the little thriller Remember My Name (1978). The same year, he worked with director Robert Altman in the comedy drama A Wedding (1978) and Brian De Palma in the horror thriller The Fury (1978). He re-teamed with Altman in the comedy A Perfect Couple (1979, as Costa) and with De Palma in Dressed to Kill (1980).
Franz then starred as Officer Joe Gilland in the TV film Chicago Story (1981, reprised the role in the 1982 NBC series) and took part in Steve Bochco’s two series projects, the short-lived “Bay City Blues” (1983) and “Hill Street Blues” (14 episodes, 1983-1987, as Detective Sal Benedetto). Making episodic performances, the actor later could be seen in “T.J. Hooker” (1984), “Hunter” (1985) and “Matlock” (1989).
Franz portrayed characters in Die Hard 2 (1990), N.Y.P.D. Mounted (1991, TV) and In the Line of Duty: Siege at Marion (1992, TV). Also in 1992, he had a cameo in Robert Altman’s anti-Hollywood movie The Player.
Franz’ popularity was boosted after he was cast as the volatile Detective Andy Sipowicz in the controversial cop show “NYPD Blue” (1993-2005), alongside Gordon Clapp. For his captivating performance in the series, the actor collected four Emmys, a Golden Globe, two Screen Actors Guild awards and five Q awards. In addition, Franz was nominated for four other Emmys, a Golden Globe, ten Screen Actors Guilds, a Q award, two Golden Satellite awards, two TV Guide awards and a Television Critics Association award.
While filming the cop series, Franz starred in the self-produced TV film Moment of Truth: Caught in the Crossfire (1994), voiced himself in an episode of “The Simpsons” (1994), shared the screen with Peter Strauss and Heather Locklear in Texas Justice (1995, TV) and costarred as Don ‘Donny’ Dubrow, opposite Dustin Hoffman, in the adaptation of David Mamet’s play American Buffalo (1996). Two years later, the actor delivered a fine portrayal of angel-turned-mortal Nathaniel Messinger in the romantic comedy City of Angels (1998) and earned Best Supporting Actor nominations from the Saturn awards and Blockbuster Entertainment awards.