James Farentino, a prolific stage and television actor whose career came to a withering halt after he was arrested for cocaine possession and charged with stalking Frank Sinatra’s daughter Tina, died Jan. 24 at a hospital in Los Angeles. He was 73.
A family spokesman told the Associated Press that Mr. Farentino had a heart ailment.
Handsome, with a sculpted chin and wavy black hair, Mr. Farentino was best known for recurring roles on television series and TV movies. From 1969 to 1972, he played a slick litigator on the NBC drama “The Bold Ones: The Lawyers,” and he was a private eye for hire on the NBC detective drama “Cool Million” (1972-73). In the early 1980s, he portrayed a psychiatrist in the first season of the hit ABC series “Dynasty.”
He began his career onstage in 1961, playing one of the Mexican beach boys opposite Bette Davis in a Broadway version of the Tennessee Williams drama “The Night of the Iguana.” He earned a Golden Globe award for most promising male actor for his role as an overly confidant ladies’ man in the 1966 movie comedy “The Pad (And How to Use It).”
In 1973, Mr. Farentino played Stanley Kowalski to Rosemary Harris’s Blanche DuBois in a New York revival of Williams’s “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
Marlon Brando originated the role of Kowalski, who ravages his fragile sister-in-law, Blanche. “I didn’t want to make him an ape,” Mr. Farentino said of his role at the time. “I see him as having his territory invaded. . . . That kind of had a connection for me. I treat Blanche as an intruder, as a threat to my kingdom.”
In the New York Times, theater critic Clive Barnes wrote that Mr. Farentino approached the part “with far more suavity than, say, Mr. Brando. He’s not just an ox. He’s a natural leader, and he shows his feelings for both his wife and Blanche with considerable complexity.”
Mr. Farentino, who played the son Happy in a 1966 television version of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman,” appeared in a 1975 Broadway revival as the other son, Biff, to George C. Scott’s Willy Loman.
Playing the apostle Peter, Mr. Farentino earned an Emmy nomination for best supporting actor in the 1977 television miniseries “Jesus of Nazareth.” He co-starred with Kirk Douglas and Martin Sheen in the 1980 time-travel fantasy “Final Countdown” and played the leading role of a sheriff in the 1981 thriller “Dead & Buried.”
His career continued on in TV series and made-for-television fare. But while filming in Vancouver in 1991, Mr. Farentino was arrested after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police found 3.2 grams of cocaine in his hotel room.
Three years later, he pleaded no contest to a charge of stalking his former girlfriend, Tina Sinatra. Police said that Mr. Farentino had made threatening phone calls. Mr. Farentino was sentenced to three years of probation, a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation and alcoholism counseling.
In the 1990s, he appeared in a variety of cameo roles on television. On the medical drama “ER,” he played the father of George Clooney’s character.
“There are people in this business that for years said, ‘He’s an alcoholic. He’s a drunk. He stalked Tina.’ And the clamps were put on me in many ways,” Mr. Farentino told the Los Angeles Times in 2003. “And that’s okay because one thing they can’t take away from me is whatever talent I feel I have, that people feel I have.”
James Ferrantino was born Feb. 24, 1938, in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. His father was a women’s knitwear designer and, Mr. Farentino said, a compulsive gambler.
Mr. Farentino’s marriages to actresses Elizabeth Ashley, Michele Lee and Debrah Mullowney Farentino ended in divorce. Survivors include his wife, Stella Farentino, and two children.