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.
- Had been battling prostate cancer for 10 years.
- 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."
- Played the uncle of his real-life son, 'Chris Orbach' (qv), in _"Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (1999)_ (qv).
- Had read for the roles of Max Greevey and Phil Cerreta on _"Law & Order" (1990)_ (qv) before finally being cast as Det. Lennie Briscoe.
- Father was German-Jewish whose ancestry was Spanish Sephardic and Mother was Polish Catholic.
- 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.
- Made his Broadway stage debut as Smith, the Police Constable, in "The Threepenny Opera".
- Appeared in episodes of four different series with 'Sam Waterston' (qv): _"Law & Order" (1990)_ (qv), _"Homicide: Life on the Street" (1993)_ (qv), _"Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (1999)_ (qv) and _"Law & Order: Trial by Jury" (2005)_ (qv).