69 (passed away Dec. 28th, 2004)
Oct. 20th, 1935
New York City, New York, USA
Jerry Orbach's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
Jerome Bernard "Jerry" Orbach (October 20, 1935 – December 28, 2004) was an American actor and singer.
Born in the Bronx, the only child of Emily (née Olexy), a greeting card manufacturer and radio singer, and Leon Orbach, a restaurant manager and vaudeville performer. His family moved frequently and eventually settled in Waukegan, Illinois where he went to high school. The constant moving made him the new kid on the block and forced him to become "a chameleon" to blend in his new settings. He studied drama at the University of Illinois and at Northwestern. He then went to study acting in New York and got constant work in musicals. He slowly pushed to get acting roles in tv and movies, but was frequently overlooked because of his musical roots.
He is best known on television for his starring role as Detective Lennie Briscoe in Law & Order and his recurring role as Harry McGraw in Murder, She Wrote, as well as for film roles such as Detective Gus Levy in Prince of the City, Dr. Jake Houseman in Dirty Dancing and the voice of Lumière in Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Orbach was equally noted as a musical theatre star, creating roles such as El Gallo in The Fantasticks, the longest-running musical play in history; Chuck Baxter in Promises, Promises (for which he won a Tony Award); Julian Marsh in 42nd Street; and Billy Flynn in Chicago.
Orbach was married in 1958 to Marta Curro, with whom he had two sons, Anthony Nicholas and Christopher Benjamin; they divorced in (1975). Elder son Tony is a crossword puzzle constructor for The New York Times and also guest starred on the Law & Order episode "Doubles" as a reporter. Younger son Chris Orbach, who is an actor and singer, played Lennie Briscoe's nephew Ken Briscoe on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
Orbach married Broadway dancer Elaine Cancilla, in 1979 whom he met while starring in Chicago.
- Made his Broadway stage debut as Smith, the Police Constable, in "The Threepenny Opera".
- Father was German-Jewish whose ancestry was Spanish Sephardic and Mother was Polish Catholic.
- Father of 'Chris Orbach' (qv) and Anthony Orbach.
- Along with 'S. Epatha Merkerson' (qv), 'Annie Parisse' (qv),'Milena Govich' (qv), and 'Jeremy Sisto' (qv) one of only 5 _"Law & Order" (1990)_ (qv) cast members to play a different character in an episode before joining the cast in a later season. ('Michael Imperioli' (qv) and 'J.K. Simmons' (qv) also played multiple roles, but were not permanent additions to the cast.).
- Before joining the cast of _"Law & Order" (1990)_ (qv) in 1992, he played a defense attorney named Frank Lehrman in the Season Two episode "The Wages of Love". Detective Lennie Briscoe, the character he later played on the series for twelve seasons, hated defense attorneys for defending "the scum of the earth."
- 'Jesse L. Martin' (qv) performed the song "Razzle Dazzle" from the musical "Chicago" at the 2005 Tony Awards just as the "In Memoriam" section of the show was finishing. The last photo shown during the memorial was that of Orbach, who was both Martin's costar on _"Law & Order" (1990)_ (qv) and the first person to perform "Razzle Dazzle" in the original Broadway production of "Chicago".
- Was partying at the Copacabana with famed New York mobster Joey Gallo hours before Gallo was shot dead at Umberto's Clam House in New York City
- Had read for the roles of Max Greevey and Phil Cerreta on _"Law & Order" (1990)_ (qv) before finally being cast as Det. Lennie Briscoe.