Dennis Franz

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Dennis Franz
Dennis Franz (23845357384).jpg
Franz in 2008
Dennis Franz Schlachta

(1944-10-28) October 28, 1944 (age 76)
Alma mater
Years active1978–2005
Joanie Zeck
(m. 1995)
Children2 stepdaughters

Dennis Franz Schlachta ( /frɑːnz/ ; born October 28, 1944), known professionally as Dennis Franz, is a retired American actor best known for his role as NYPD Detective Andy Sipowicz in the ABC television series NYPD Blue (1993–2005), a role that earned him a Golden Globe Award, three Screen Actors Guild Awards and four Primetime Emmy Awards. He also portrayed two different characters on the similar NBC series Hill Street Blues (1983, 1985–1987) and its short-lived spinoff, Beverly Hills Buntz (1987–1988).


Early life

Franz was born October 28, 1944, in Maywood, Illinois, the son of German immigrants [1] [2] [3] Eleanor ( née Mueller), a postal worker, and Franz Ferdinand Schlachta, who was a baker and postal worker. [4] He has two older sisters, Heidi (born 1935) and Marlene (born 1938).

Franz is a 1962 graduate of Proviso East High School in Maywood. During his high school years, he was active in baseball, football and swimming. He attended Wilbur Wright College and Southern Illinois University Carbondale, graduating from the latter with a bachelor's degree in speech and theater in 1968. [5]

After graduating from college, Franz was drafted into the United States Army. He served eleven months with the 82nd Airborne Division and the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam. [6]


Franz began his acting career at Chicago's Organic Theater Company. Although he has in the past performed Shakespeare, his appearance led to his being typecast early in his career as a cop. (By Franz's own count, the character of Andy Sipowicz was his 28th role as a police officer). He also guest starred in shows such as The A-Team . Other major roles were on the television series Hill Street Blues in which he played two characters over the run of the show. Franz first played the role of the corrupt Detective Sal Benedetto in the 1982-1983 season. Benedetto eventually commits suicide when a large-scale scam he was running fails. Franz returned to the series in 1985 as main character Lt. Norman Buntz, remaining until the show's end in 1987. He also starred in the short-lived Beverly Hills Buntz as the same character.

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Franz worked regularly with directors Brian De Palma and Robert Altman. He appeared in three of Altman's films from this period, and five of De Palma's, most prominently as a low-budget movie director in Body Double (1984).

Franz went on to win four Emmy Awards for his portrayal of Andy Sipowicz on NYPD Blue . The character of Sipowicz was ranked #23 on Bravo's 100 Greatest TV Characters list. In 1996, while still on NYPD Blue, Franz appeared in the Disney cartoon Mighty Ducks: The Animated Series in which he provided the voice of Captain Klegghorn, the commanding officer and head of the Anaheim Police Department. The series ran from September 1996 to January 1997.

In 1994, Franz made a cameo appearance as himself in The Simpsons episode "Homer Badman", in which Homer is accused of sexually harassing a babysitter and the case becomes tabloid fodder, generating an exploitative television movie, Homer S.: Portrait of an Ass-Grabber, in which Franz portrays Homer.

Franz at a rehearsal for the 1994 Emmy Awards Dennis Franz (1994).jpg
Franz at a rehearsal for the 1994 Emmy Awards

On May 11, 2001, Franz was a contestant on a celebrity edition of the hit television game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, winning $250,000 for his charity.

Franz also was a commercial spokesman for Nextel in the early 2000s. The concept was that Franz "refused" to do the commercials, saying they were not something he did.

He starred as Earl, the abusive husband, in the Dixie Chicks' music video "Goodbye Earl", as airport police captain Carmine Lorenzo in the 1990 film Die Hard 2 and as Nathaniel Messinger in the 1998 film City of Angels . It was his final film role to date.

Post-NYPD Blue

After the end of the show in 2005, Franz retired from acting to focus on his private life. He has told the New York Post he would be interested in returning to acting if given the right opportunity. [7] He and his wife spend their summers in their lake home in northern Idaho. In 2012, he spoke of wartime experiences and post-war trauma of veterans at a Memorial Day Concert. (He spoke in the first person but it was not his own story.) [8] He and his former NYPD Blue co-star Jimmy Smits made a surprise appearance at the 2016 Primetime Emmy Awards, presenting the award for Outstanding Drama Series to Game of Thrones .

Personal life

In 1995, Franz married Joanie Zeck, whom he met in 1982. He is the stepfather of Zeck's two daughters from a previous marriage. [9]



1965 Mickey One Minor Role in Dressing RoomUncredited
1978 Remember My Name Franks
1978 The Fury Bob Eggleston
1978TowingBar PatronUncredited
1978 A Wedding Koons
1978 Stony Island Jerry Domino
1979 A Perfect Couple Costa
1980 Dressed to Kill Detective Marino
1980 Popeye Spike
1981 Blow Out Manny Karp
1983 Psycho II Warren Toomey
1983 Scarface Immigration OfficerVoice, uncredited
1984 Body Double Rubin
1985 Runaway Train CopUncredited
1986 A Fine Mess Phil
1989 The Package Lt. Milan Delich
1990 Die Hard 2 Captain Carmine Lorenzo
1991The Sid StorySidVideo short
1992 The Player Himself
1996 American Buffalo Don Dubrow
1997 Mighty Ducks the Movie: The First Face-Off Captain KlegghornVoice
1998 City of Angels Nathaniel Messinger


1979 Bleacher Bums ZigTelevision movie
1980Chicago StoryOfficer Joe GillandTelevision movie
1982 Chicago Story Officer Joe Gilland13 episodes
1983 Hill Street Blues Det. Sal Benedetto5 episodes
1983 Bay City Blues Angelo Carbone8 episodes
1984 Hardcastle and McCormick Tony BoutrosEpisode: "Did You See the One That Got Away?"
1984 The A-Team Sam FriendlyEpisode: "Chopping Spree"
1984 Riptide Earl BertraneEpisode: "Double Your Pleasure"
1984 E/R The BoyfriendEpisode: "The Sister"
1984 T. J. Hooker Andros MargolisEpisode: "Hardcore Connection"
1985–1987 Hill Street Blues Lt. Norman Buntz44 episodes
1985 Simon & Simon Frank MahoneyEpisode: "Almost Foolproof"
1985 The A-Team BrooksEpisode: "Beverly Hills Assault"
1985 Hardcastle and McCormick Joe HayesEpisode: "There Goes the Neighborhood"
1985 MacGruder and Loud RocheEpisode: "On the Wire"
1985 Hunter Sgt. Jackie Molinas2 episodes
1985 Street Hawk Inspector Frank MenloEpisode: "Female of the Species"
1985Scene of the CrimePat GrandyEpisode: "A Vote for Murder"
1985 Deadly Messages Detective Max LucasTelevision movie
1987Tales from the Hollywood HillsLouieTelevision movie
1987–1988 Beverly Hills Buntz Norman Buntz13 episodes
1989Kiss ShotMax FleischerTelevision movie
1989 Matlock Jack Brennert2 episodes
1989 Christine Cromwell Detective GraingerEpisode: "Easy Come, Easy Go"
1990 Nasty Boys Lt. Stan Krieger12 episodes
1990 Nasty Boys, Part 2: Lone JusticeLt. Stan KriegerTelevision movie
1991NYPD MountedTony SpampattaUnsold TV pilot
1991 Civil Wars Murray SeidelmanEpisode: "Pilot"
1992In the Line of Duty: Siege at MarionBob BryantTelevision movie
1993–2005 NYPD Blue Detective/Sergeant Andy Sipowicz 261 episodes
1994 The Simpsons Himself playing Homer Simpson Voice, Episode: "Homer Badman"
1994Moment of Truth: Caught in the CrossfireGus PayneTelevision movie
1995Texas JusticeRichard HaynesTelevision movie
1996Healing the HateHostTelevision movie
1996–1997 Mighty Ducks Captain KlegghornVoice, 17 episodes
1998 Sesame Street HimselfEpisode: "Monster Day"

Awards and nominations

In literature

There is a reference to Franz in the 2005 novel Shalimar the Clown by Salman Rushdie.

Related Research Articles

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  2. Gilbert, Gerard (July 8, 2002). "TV Heroes: #6: Dennis Franz". The Independent .
  3. Pressley, Leigh (June 4, 1994). "Good Cop/Bad Cop". Greensboro News & Record. p. D1.
  4. Dennis Franz Biography (1944-) Film Reference
  5. Utterback, Wayne (April 19, 2007). "Emprace the 'Dark': Author, SIUC alumnus reprints book about Strip". Daily Egyptian. p. 7.
  6. Hal Erickson (2015). "Dennis Franz". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times . Baseline & All Movie Guide. Archived from the original on May 5, 2015. Retrieved September 25, 2014.
  7. Starr, Michael (September 18, 2015). "'NYPD Blue' legend Dennis Franz loves life off the Hollywood grid". New York Post . Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  8. National Memorial Day Concert 2012 PBS.
  9. "Dennis Franz and Joanie Zeck" People , February 13, 1995