Long before he was known as Tony Soprano, James Gandolfini was that face in the crowd everyone recognized but didn’t know.

Had he not struck gold in “The Sopranos”, you might remember him as the hired killer in “True Romance” or as the romantic “schlub” pining for the affections of Annabella Sciorra in "Mr. Wonderful!"

Same with Dominic Chianese. I remember him as the Hyman Roth associate in “Godfather II.” This is long before his days playing Uncle Junior.

Such is the life of a character actor. You know him (or her), but you don't!
And that was the field in which Dennis Farina worked.

Dennis Farina, a onetime Chicago cop who played a cop on “Law & Order,” has died.

For three decades, Farina was a character actor who displayed remarkable dexterity, charm and, when called for, toughness, making effective use of his craggy face, steel-gray hair, ivory smile and ample mustache.

Farina appeared in films including “Get Shorty,” ”Saving Private Ryan,” ”Midnight Run” and “Out Of Sight.”

Among his many TV portrayals was Detective Joe Fontana on “Law & Order” during the 2004-06 seasons. He starred in the 1980s “Crime Story” and was a regular recently in the 2011-12 HBO drama “Luck.” With Dustin Hoffman.

He recently completed shooting a comedy, “Lucky Stiff.”

Born Feb. 29, 1944, in Chicago, he was a city detective before he found his way into the acting profession as he neared his forties.

His first film was the 1981 action drama “Thief,” directed by Michael Mann, whom he had met through a mutual friend while still working for the Chicago Police Department.

“I remember going to the set that day and being intrigued by the whole thing,” Farina recalled in a 2004 interview with The Associated Press. “I liked it. And everybody was extremely nice to me. If the people were rude and didn’t treat me right, things could have gone the other way.”

Farina is survived by three sons, six grandchildren and his longtime partner, Marianne Cahill.

Faces in the crowd you recognize, but don't know their names.

Who are the ones that stick out the most to you?