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.
- He was an only child.
- In 1969, he won the Tony Award for Best Actor (Musical) for his 1968 role of Chuck Baxter in the 'Burt Bacharach' (qv)/'Hal David (II)' (qv) musical "Promises, Promises", a stage adaptation of 'Billy Wilder' (qv)'s _The Apartment (1960)_ (qv). This was preceded by a 1965 Tony nomination as Best Supporting or Featured Actor (Musical) for a revival of "Guys and Dolls," and followed by a 1976 Best Actor (Musical) nomination for the original production of "Chicago."
- '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".
- The _"Law & Order: Trial by Jury" (2005)_ (qv) episode "Baby Boom" was dedicated to his memory. At the end, a message was shown that said "For Jerry".
- The New York Landmark Conservancy declared him a Living Landmark.
- On Monday, 20th March 2000 he sued on-line auctioneer eBay Inc. in Manhattan (New York) federal court for displaying his Social Security number on the Internet. The suit alleges that eBay began broadcasting the confidential information on its Web site on Wednesday 15th March 2000 when it advertised the sale of two of Orbach's contracts from 1958.
- Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume 7, 2003-2005, pages 405-407. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale, 2007.
- Father of 'Chris Orbach' (qv) and Anthony Orbach.