69 (passed away Dec. 28th, 2004)
Oct. 20th, 1935
New York City, New York, USA
Jerry Orbach's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles1992 - Universal Soldier
1992 - Straight Talk
1991 - Toy Soldiers
1991 - Out For Justice
1991 - Beauty and the Beast
1991 - Delusion
1991 - Delirious
1989 - Last Exit to Brooklyn
1989 - Crimes and Misdemeanors
1987 - Dirty Dancing
1987 - Someone to Watch Over Me
1986 - FX
1985 - Brewster's Millions
1984 - Beverly Hills Cop
1981 - Prince of the City
1977 - The Sentinel
1961 - Mad Dog Coll
1955 - Marty
Guest TV Roles
Detective Lennie Briscoe
Detective Lennie Briscoe
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.
- On _"Law & Order: Trial by Jury" (2005)_ (qv), when he was so ill that he couldn't speak above a whisper, they rewrote the scene so that he and the other characters around him all had reason to whisper (outside of a courtroom door).
- The New York Landmark Conservancy declared him a Living Landmark.
- 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.).
- Father was German-Jewish whose ancestry was Spanish Sephardic and Mother was Polish Catholic.
- Was an organ donor and upon his death he gave his eyes as a gift of sight.
- 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."
- Announced on March 26, 2004, that he would be leaving _"Law & Order" (1990)_ (qv) after 12 years on the series.
- '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".