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Jerry Orbach Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (2)  | Trade Mark (1)  | Trivia (43)  | Personal Quotes (5)

Overview (4)

Born in New York City, New York, USA
Died in Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA  (prostate cancer)
Birth NameJerome Bernard Orbach
Height 6' 1½" (1.87 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Jerry Orbach was born in the Bronx, New York, the only child of Leon Orbach, a former vaudevillian actor, was a German Jewish immigrant, who was born in Hamburg, Germany, and Emily (nee Olexy), a radio singer, was born in Pennsylvania to immigrant Polish-Lithuanian Roman Catholic parents, Alexander Olexy and Susanna (nee Klauba). The family moved frequently. He spent part of his childhood in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania 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 University. He then went to study acting in New York and got constant work in musicals. He slowly pushed to get acting roles in television and films after being overlooked due to his musical roots.

Orbach died at age 69 on December 28, 2004, after a decade-long battle with prostate cancer. His widow, Elaine Cancilla Orbach died on April 1, 2009, from pneumonia. Orbach and Cancilla both predeceased Orbach's mother, Emily Orbach, who died on July 28, 2012, at the age of 101.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: John Sacksteder/Robert Sieger

Spouse (2)

Elaine Cancilla (7 October 1979 - 28 December 2004) ( his death)
Marta Curro (21 June 1958 - 1975) ( divorced) ( 2 children)

Trade Mark (1)

Best known for his role as Detective Lennie Briscoe in Law & Order (1990) (as well as several spin-offs)

Trivia (43)

On March 20, 2000, he sued online auctioneer eBay Inc. in Manhattan Federal Court for displaying his Social Security number on the Internet. The suit alleges that eBay began broadcasting the confidential information on its website on March 15, 2000, when it advertised the sale of two of his contracts from 1958.
Created the roles of El Gallo in "The Fantasticks," Billy Flynn in "Chicago" and Julian Marsh in "42nd Street" on the New York stage.
Father of Chris Orbach and Anthony Orbach.
Was partying at the Copacabana with infamous New York mobster Joe Gallo (III) hours before Gallo was shot dead at Umberto's Clam House in New York City.
Worked as a chauffeur for Mae West.
Had read for the roles of Max Greevey and Phil Cerreta on Law & Order (1990) before finally being cast as Det. Lennie Briscoe.
In 1976, he was nominated for the Tony Award® for "Best Actor in a Musical" for his performance in "Chicago."
Announced on March 26, 2004, that he would be leaving Law & Order (1990) after 12 years on the series.
In 1969, he won the Tony Award for Best Actor (Musical) for his 1968 role of Chuck Baxter in the Burt Bacharach/Hal David musical "Promises, Promises", a stage adaptation of Billy Wilder's The Apartment (1960). 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."
The New York Landmark Conservancy declared him a Living Landmark.
His manager, Robert Malcolm, announced in December 2004 that he has prostate cancer. However, Malcolm said, "We expect he'll be fine. He's been playing golf, shooting his episodes (of Law & Order: Trial by Jury (2005)) and doing real well".
He played the same character (Detective Lennie Briscoe) in five different television series: Law & Order (1990), Homicide: Life on the Street (1993), Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999), Law & Order: Criminal Intent (2001) and Law & Order: Trial by Jury (2005).
Had been battling prostate cancer for 10 years.
His father, Leon Orbach, was a German Jewish immigrant, who was born in Hamburg, Germany. His mother, Emily (Olexy), was born in Pennsylvania, to immigrant Polish-Lithuanian Catholic parents, Alexander Olexy and Susanna (Klauba).
Received the Edith Oliver Award for Sustained Excellence at the 1999 Lucille Lortel Awards.
He appeared in episodes of three different series with Jesse L. Martin: Law & Order (1990), Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999) and Law & Order: Criminal Intent (2001).
He appeared in episodes of three different series with Richard Belzer: Law & Order (1990), Homicide: Life on the Street (1993) and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999).
On Law & Order: Trial by Jury (2005), 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).
Along with Jesse L. Martin, Fred Dalton Thompson, Carolyn McCormick and Leslie Hendrix, he is one of only five actors to play the same character (Detective Lennie Briscoe) on all four New York City-based "Law & Order" series: Law & Order (1990), Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999), Law & Order: Criminal Intent (2001), and Law & Order: Trial by Jury (2005).
He appeared in episodes of four different series with Sam Waterston: Law & Order (1990), Homicide: Life on the Street (1993), Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999) and Law & Order: Trial by Jury (2005).
Jesse L. Martin 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) and the first person to perform "Razzle Dazzle" in the original Broadway production of "Chicago".
Played the uncle of his real-life son, Chris Orbach, in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999).
His character Law & Order (1990) and Law & Order: Trial by Jury (2005) character, Detective Lennie Briscoe, was the longest running character on American prime time live action television from May 2004, when Frasier (1993) ended, to March 2005. Kelsey Grammer had played Dr. Frasier Crane in Cheers (1982) and Frasier (1993) since November 1984. Richard Belzer, who has played Detective John Munch in Homicide: Life on the Street (1993) and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999) since January 1993, is the current holder of the title.
Before joining the cast of Law & Order (1990) 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 12 seasons, hated defense attorneys for defending "the scum of the earth".
The Law & Order: Trial by Jury (2005) episode "Baby Boom" was dedicated to his memory. At the end, a message was shown that said "For Jerry".
Is one of four cast members from Law & Order (1990) whose character became a regular on a "Law & Order" spin-off. He played Det. Lennie Briscoe in both "Law & Order" and Law & Order: Trial by Jury (2005). Although he was signed as a regular cast member in L&O:TBJ, he died unexpectedly after shooting only two episodes.
Along with Chris Noth, Dann Florek and Fred Dalton Thompson, he is one of four Law & Order (1990) cast members who later joined the regular cast of one of the spin-off series. He played Detective Lennie Briscoe in Law & Order (1990) from 1992 to 2004 and was a member of the original cast of Law & Order: Trial by Jury (2005).
According to his book "Hollywood Animal", Joe Eszterhas said that when he was down and out, Orbach would fill his station wagon with groceries and deliver them to his house.
Along with S. Epatha Merkerson, Annie Parisse, Milena Govich and Jeremy Sisto, he was one of only five Law & Order (1990) cast members to play a different character in an episode before joining the cast in a later season. Michael Imperioli and J.K. Simmons also played multiple roles, but were not permanent additions to the cast.
Was an organ donor; upon his death his eyes were made available to someone in need of new eyes.
Made his Broadway stage debut as Smith, the Police Constable, in "The Threepenny Opera".
W. 53rd St. in Manhattan has been named Jerry Orbach Way.
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume 7, 2003-2005, pages 405-407. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale, 2007.
Was an animal-rights activist.
His widow Elaine Orbach died on April 1, 2009, from pneumonia at the age of 69.
In 2008 his oldest son Tony and grandson Peter appeared on the series "Cash Cab" together.
Has four grandchildren: Sarah Kate Orbach and Peter Orbach are his oldest son Tony's kids; Aaron Orbach (b. 2014) and Emilia Orbach (b. 2019) are the children of youngest son Chris Orbach and daughter-in-law Nicole.
His mother Emily Orbach died on July 28, 2012, at the age of 101.
He appeared in 274 episodes of Law & Order (1990), more than anyone else except for S. Epatha Merkerson and Sam Waterston.
Cousin of Ron Orbach.
Left an estate estimated at $10 million.
As a struggling young actor he attended Lee Strasberg's Actors Studio with a struggling young actress named Marilyn Monroe.
For years until the time of his death, held the record for most musical stage performances of any living actor.

Personal Quotes (5)

I used to say when I was working in the theater that if I ever had five seasons of a hit TV show I'd never have to worry about money and wouldn't have to do anything I didn't want to do . . . The 12 seasons on Law & Order (1990) really made that possible.
[on working on Law & Order (1990)] It's a lot more fun for actors to cry and rant and rave, or have a drug problem or a drinking problem. Once in a while I get jealous of people who get to do real histrionics. But that's all right. That stuff's only about awards. It's not about people watching. People are very loyal to our show and they want to see the case resolved in an hour.
It may sound a little off the wall to say this, but having the opportunity to do this in this long an arc has given me - and is continuing to give me - a feeling that I'm doing something for the city and for the people of it and for the cops. I see it every day on the street. The profile of Law & Order (1990) has gotten bigger and bigger. And the way the city feels about us . . . it's like we're part of the good things that happen in the city.
When I first began in this business I was doing a lot of musical theater but the problem was that people wouldn't hire me outside of that. I wasn't being taken seriously as an actor so I started taking more dramatic roles and serious acting jobs and eventually it got to the point where people were saying, "I really like his stuff. Does he sing?"
[on why he decided to join the cast of "Law & Order" (1990)] Back in the early '60s my pal David Janssen was doing The Fugitive (1963). He used to come home eight, nine o'clock at night, having gotten up at five in the morning, have one drink and boom! He'd fall asleep on the couch and we'd carry him to bed. I told myself, "I will never do an hour drama. It's just too hard". But then, as you get older . . .

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