Dennis Franz looks unrecognizable after the death of his on-screen son
EXCLUSIVE: NYPD Blue star Dennis Franz, 78, looks unrecognizable as he is seen for the first time since on-screen son Austin Majors died of a ‘fentanyl overdose’
- NYPD Blue child star Austin Majors died of a ‘fentanyl overdose’ at age 27
- He died while in a Los Angeles homeless shelter, after not acting since 2009
- Majors frequently promoted the dark music he was making on Instagram
- In posts he appeared disheveled, with a scraggly beard, tangled hair, and Grillz
Dennis Franz looked was spotted out in California for the first time since his on-screen son, Austin Majors, passed away in February.
The beloved NYPD Blue actor, 78, looked unrecognizable while out grabbing lunch with his wife, Joanie Zeck, at Pan e Vino in Montecito.
The actor opted for a dressed-down look for his afternoon out, sporting a navy sweater with a red shirt underneath and blue jeans.
He also had on a pair of grey sneakers and wore thin-rimmed glasses on his face.
The City of Angels star’s thinning hair was left long in the back and had gone completely grey. His grey beard was also slightly grown out.
Unrecognizable: NYPD Blue star Dennis Franz looked very different after being spotted out for the first time since his on-screen son passed away
Heading out: The actor opted for a dressed-down look for his afternoon out
With him was his wife Joanie, who donned a long white cardigan, a pair of black jeans, and sneakers.
Her auburn hair was pulled up in a ponytail, and her bangs left to fall straight across her forehead.
The beauty, who has been married to Dennis since 1995, wore a large pair of sunglasses on her face and carried her phone in her hand.
She has two daughters from a previous marriage, Tricia, 49, and Krista, 47, who Dennis has since adopted.
Dennis is known for his starring role on NYPD Blue as Detective Andy Sipowicz from 1993 until the show ended in 2005.
His on-screen son, Theo Sipowicz, was played by Austin for seven seasons, starting in 1999.
Austin, who was a child star but stopped acting in 2009, tragically passed away from a ‘fentanyl overdose’ on February 11 at the age of 27, TMZ reported.
He was found in a homeless shelter in Los Angeles after struggling for many years to have a career in the music industry.
Spotted: He had on a pair of grey sneakers and wore thin-rimmed glasses on his face
Waiting: The City of Angels actor sported a navy sweater with a red shirt underneath and blue jeans
Out and about: The star’s thinning hair was left long in the back and had gone completely grey
Quick lunch: Dennis was with his wife, Joanie Zeck, for lunch at Pan e Vino in Montecito
Solemn: She donned a long white cardigan, a pair of black jeans, and sneakers
Star: The actor is best known for playing Detective Andy Sipowicz on NYPD Blue; David Caruso and Dennis on the show
Long-time: He was on the show from its start in 1993 until it ended in 2005; Jimmy Smits, Kim Delaney, and Dennis on NYPD Blue
Austin displayed troubling behavior on social media in the weeks before his death from an apparent drug overdose over the weekend.
Majors, once a beloved cherubic face frequently seen on the television show NYPD Blue, had traded in his chubby cheeks for a ragged beard, tangled hair, and apparently a set of golden Grillz along his lower teeth.
Majors, according to his IMDB page, had his last acting gig in 2009 and had recently embarked instead on a music career under the name ‘Pope !’
In a series of recent posts Majors promoted his music – a collection of dark house-music – while espousing about existential topics, and even mentioned fighting off ‘isolation demons’ months before his death.
It remains unclear whether Majors was going through a period of homelessness at the time of his death, or how long he had been at the shelter where he was reportedly found dead.
An autopsy on his body was scheduled to be completed Monday, and final toxicology results are expected in a few months.
His family released a statement calling Austin a ‘loving, artistic, brilliant, and kind human being.’
‘Austin took great joy and pride in his acting career,’ they told TMZ. ‘He was an active Eagle Scout and graduated Salutatorian in High School. He went on to graduate from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts with a passion of directing and music producing.’
Troubled: Austin Majors in a post on his Instagram from 2022. He was found dead in early February
Loss: Austin Majors as a young boy appears on an episode of NYPD blue in 1999
Social media moment: A post Majors made on his Instagram months before his death from an apparent drug overdose
Looking different: Majors made a series of troubling posts on his social media in the months before he died
New path: Majors promoted his music – a dark blend of house music – on social media in recent years
Though he hadn’t acted in over a decade, in 2020 Austin shared a picture on his Instagram of his Screen Actors Guild membership card, saying he had been a member for twenty years.
Instead of acting, Majors had been pursuing a career in music. In numerous posts he described himself as a ‘struggling artist.’
His music teemed with minor keys, chaotic a-melodic synthesizer lines, and seemed to reflect a dark and scattered state of mind that appeared in his social media posts.
Austin won the Young Artists Award for Best Performance in a Television Series for his work in NYPD Blue in 2002.
The actor was also nominated for Best Performance in a Voice Over Role for Treasure Planet.
He was born on November 23 in California as Austin Setmajer.
Austin graduated second in his class in high school in 2013, going on to attend school at the University of Southern California, at the School of Cinematic Arts – majoring in Film and Television production with a minor in music production.
Austin’s first role was in 1997 in the film Nevada, playing a young boy.
Changes: Majors in 2018. Social media posts showed his appearance changed in recent months
Young star: Austin appeared in numerous television shows and movies up until 2009
Acting: Majors on the set of NYPD Blue. His last appearance on camera came in 2009
He went on to star in The Price of Air in 2000, Providence in 2001, Treasure Planet in 2002, Bananas in 2004 – before landing the role of Theo in NYPD Blue. He starred as Theo in 48 episodes from 1999 until 2004.
From there, Austin went on to star in Volare in 2004, ER for one episode in 2005, Hercules for two episodes in 2005 as well as Little Manhattan in 2005.
He had small roles in Bye Bye Benjamin, Threshold, According to Jim, NCIS, The Ant Bully, American Dad!, Dead Silence, The Gray Man and Desperate Housewives between 2005 through 2007.
In his last roles, Austin starred as Will Wright in the TV movie An Accidental Christmas in 2007, Hank in Night Writer in 2007 and How I Met Your Mother for one episode in 2009.
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