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'NYPD Blue's' Dennis Franz Was 'Furious' When He Found His Love — It Took Him 13 Years to Wed Her

Gaone Pule
Jun 25, 2022
03:40 P.M.
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When veteran star Dennis Franz fell in love with his one and only wife, Joanie Zeck, he was not ready for commitment. At the time, he was a ladies' man dating several women, and falling in love was not his intention. But Zeck was not offended by that and explained why.

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Retired actor Dennis Franz, who played Detective Andy Sipowicz on ABC's "NYPD Blue," was considered a sex symbol back in the day, yet he did not consider himself one.

In a joint interview with his best friend, actor Joe Mantegna, with the Washington Post in 1995, the duo had a debate about his sex symbol status.

Dennis Franz during The 52nd Annual Golden Globe Awards at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. / Source: Getty Images

Dennis Franz during The 52nd Annual Golden Globe Awards at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. / Source: Getty Images

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"I think a lot of guys live vicariously through him and enjoy the fact that he is somewhat of a sex symbol," said Mantegna. Franz quickly chimed in and disputed his statement:

"I represent the average guy. You don't have to be physically attractive to be attractive. For lack of other terms, they've labeled it a sex symbol. I'm nobody's sex symbol."

Mantegna described him as a vigorous dater, saying, "When he was pretty footloose, he was pretty footloose," the "Thinner" star recalled.

Actor Joe Mantegna during the Sixth Annual Family Television Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on December 1, 2004 in Beverly Hills, California. / Source: Getty Images

Actor Joe Mantegna during the Sixth Annual Family Television Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on December 1, 2004 in Beverly Hills, California. / Source: Getty Images

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Franz's love for acting began junior year when he auditioned for a play and got the role. He later bagged a theater degree from Southern Illinois University.

The four-time Emmy Award winner got side-tracked when he got a draft notice and enlisted in officer's training school, hoping to avoid Vietnam. However, the plan failed, and he joined the army anyway. When Franz returned, he started to pursue an acting career.

FRANZ WAS FURIOUS AFTER FALLING IN LOVE

Dennis Franz and Joanie Zeck during 2nd Annual "Forever On My Mind" Mardi Gras Ball at Hollywood Palladium in Hollywood, California. / Source: Getty Images

Dennis Franz and Joanie Zeck during 2nd Annual "Forever On My Mind" Mardi Gras Ball at Hollywood Palladium in Hollywood, California. / Source: Getty Images

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He is now a family man, married to Joanie Zeck, whom he met at a bar when she asked him to dance. Zeck revealed that her then-boyfriend became enraged once he realized that he was in love with her, but she found it humorous:

"It was very funny – humorous in fact — to watch."

Zeck, who lived with Franz for years before tying the knot, owned a successful executive gifts and promotions business. She has two daughters from a previous relationship adored by her spouse.

Dennis Franz, Joanie Zeck, and daughters Tricia Zeck and Krista Zeck as he receives a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. / Source: Getty Images

Dennis Franz, Joanie Zeck, and daughters Tricia Zeck and Krista Zeck as he receives a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. / Source: Getty Images

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"A very protective father. Unbelievable. He worries constantly. That's why it's good for him to be busy with other things. Because if he wasn't, he could really obsess," Zeck explained.

When she was engaged to the Hollywood star, the mom of two shared that she did not feel threatened by the attention her love received from female fans:

"Some of these girls should realize that would be the last way to get to Dennis. He's a good old Midwestern, very moral guy. They'd be better off coming off as a cheerleader."

PROPOSAL

Dennis Franz and Joanie Zeck during 46th Annual Writers Guild Awards at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. / Source: Getty Images

Dennis Franz and Joanie Zeck during 46th Annual Writers Guild Awards at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. / Source: Getty Images

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Franz asked Zeck to marry him in October 1994 when she threw him a 50th birthday party. He recounted that the evening was the perfect opportunity to ask for her hand in marriage because he had a good feeling about it:

"It was such a wonderful night that I got caught up. I thought, ‘If I pass up this opportunity, I'm going to regret it.’ I was so filled full of good feeling."

Though he did not have a ring, Franz popped the question in front of guests. "The whole room was sobbing, crying, and cheering, people standing on tables. I can't imagine anything more romantic than that," Zeck remembered.

Dennis Franz and Joanie Zeck during 2002 AFI Awards Ceremony at Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. / Source: Getty Images

Dennis Franz and Joanie Zeck during 2002 AFI Awards Ceremony at Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. / Source: Getty Images

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Her husband said he was happy that he did not allow the moment to slip to chance. "Now, I couldn't be happier. I am thrilled that I finally got off the pot," said Franz.

The Golden Globe Award winner admitted that he stalled the proposal for a long time because he was too immature to commit and complained about feeling "pressured." Still, that was not to say that he had an "ulterior motive."

Ultimately, he decided to live in the moment to share more good memories with Zeck, who stood by him through good and bad times.

WEDDING AND LIFE AFTER IT

Dennis Franz and Joanie Zeck during 51st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California. / Source: Getty Images

Dennis Franz and Joanie Zeck during 51st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California. / Source: Getty Images

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Franz wed his longtime housemate Zeck in Carmel on April Fool's Day in 1995, 13 years after getting together. It was the "American Buffalo" star's first marriage, while it was the second for Zeck.

The Los Angeles Times reported that 100 guests, including "NYPD Blue" executive producer Steven Bochco, attended the outdoor wedding. The bride arrived in a horse-drawn carriage, and the groom donned a traditional tuxedo.

In June that year, Franz revealed to Chicago Tribune that Zeck's children had taken his name. "Joanie and I have been together for 13 years, so I consider her children, Krista, 18, and Tricia, 20, to be my children. They've taken my name," said the doting dad.

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Dennis Franz, wife Joanie, daughters Krista and Trisha attending the 7th American Veteran Awards. / Source: Getty Images

Dennis Franz, wife Joanie, daughters Krista and Trisha attending the 7th American Veteran Awards. / Source: Getty Images

Franz and Zeck have been married for 27 years now. He disappeared from Hollywood to spend more time with his family and has never returned. When the police drama "NYPD Blue" ended in 2005 after 12 years, he was 61 years old.

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In September 2018, Franz gave the New York Post a rare interview where he openly talked about his life currently. He and Zeck own a home in Idaho situated near a lake, and that is where they spend their summer mostly. But they live full-time in California.

He shared that he and his family do a lot of swimming and fishing and enjoy being around a lake. They often travel and have been to Cuba, Argentina, India, and Europe.

Dennis Franz with his wife, Joanie Zeck, and daughters Krista Zeck and Tricia Zeck during the 46th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards. / Source: Getty Images

Dennis Franz with his wife, Joanie Zeck, and daughters Krista Zeck and Tricia Zeck during the 46th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards. / Source: Getty Images

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Franz now has three grandchildren. They visit him daily as they live a block away, and he frequently accompanies them on trips up north. "Life is good," said the Illinois native.

When asked why he retired, Franz said when the TV show wrapped up, he needed a break. "I was just tired," he expressed, adding his career started to become a job even though he loved it.

When they were filming season 9, he told Bochco that if they reached season 12, it would be the perfect time to call it quits. When they finished the ninth season, Franz told his agents that he needed a year off, which quickly went by.

Dennis Franz as Detective Andy Sipowicz on the cop drama "NYPD Blue" during Season 5 on October 20, 1997. / Source: Getty Images

Dennis Franz as Detective Andy Sipowicz on the cop drama "NYPD Blue" during Season 5 on October 20, 1997. / Source: Getty Images

He asked for another one, and that was when he realized that he enjoyed not working and decided that he would no longer return after the final season.

"I just wanted to live an enjoyable, irresponsible, spend-time-with-my-family kind of life. I haven't regretted one minute of it. I'm pretty good at doing nothing," said Franz.

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