The fine actor and, based on my few brief meetings with him, nice guy had a blood clot in his lung, according to this report. A more detailed profile is here. Seeing Farina in a production made me give it more respect than I might have if he was not there; there was something cool about him, even if he could be tough and more than a little scary. He had been a cop in Chicago before turning to actiing, and it showed in his matter-of-fact authority.
Not that he was incapable of comedy; in fact, he was very funny in movies like "Get Shorty" and in the TV series "Buddy Faro," which was my favorite new show in Fall 1998, but didn't last long. You can find some of it on YouTube..
Some other places to pay attention: "Crime Story," the '60s drama about crime wars in Chicago and Las Vegas; " "Midnight Run,""Luck" and his first role in "Thief." My friend Alan Sepinwall says "Midnight Run" was his best role, but I would argue more for "Buddy Faro" and "Crime Story" -- and he was terrific working with Dustin Hoffman in "Luck." There were misteps along the way; the TV series " In-Laws" comes to mind, misusing Farina and Jean Smart by making them supporting players to Elon Gold.
And on top of all that, Farina was one of the sharpest dressers I have ever met.