Jerry Orbach

Birthday: Oct 20, 1935
Birthplace: New York, New York, USA
Jerry Orbach often commented, without false modesty, that he was fortunate indeed to have been a steadily working actor since the age of 20. Such was an understatement: graced with not only formidable dramatic instinct but one of American theater's top singing voices, Orbach resisted others' attempts to peg him as a character actor time and again and established himself as one of the most unique talents in entertainment per se. Television producer Dick Wolf perhaps put it best when he described Orbach as "a legendary figure of 20th century show business" and "one of the most honored performers of his generation."A native of the Bronx, Orbach was born to an ex-vaudevillian father who worked full time as a restaurant manager and a mother who sang professionally on the radio. The Orbachs moved around constantly during Jerry's youth, relocating from Gotham to Scranton to Wilkes-Barre to Springfield, Massachusetts and eventually settling in Chicago - a mobility that gave the young Orbach an unusual ability to adapt to any circumstance or situation, and thus presaged his involvement in drama. Orbach later attended Northwestern University, trained with Herbert Berghof and Lee Strasberg, and took his Gotham theatrical bow in 1955, as an understudy in the popular 1955 revival of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's The Threepenny Opera, eventually playing the lead role of serial killer Macheath. During the Threepenny run, Orbach made his first film appearance in the Manhattan-filmed low budgeter Cop Killer (1958). In 1960, Orbach created the role of flamboyant interlocutor El Gallo in the off-Broadway smash The Fantasticks, and later starred in such Broadway productions as Carnival (1961), Promises Promises (1966), Chicago (1975) and 42nd Street (1983). By day, Orbach made early-1960s appearances in several New York-based TV series, notably The Shari Lewis Show. In the early years, Orbach's film assignments were infrequent, but starting around 1981, with his pivotal role as officer Gus Levy in Sidney Lumet's masterful urban epic Prince of the City, the actor generally turned up in around one movie per year. His more fondly remembered screen assignments include the part of Jennifer Grey's father in Dirty Dancing (1987), Martin Landau's shady underworld brother in Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989) the voice of the Chevalieresque candellabra in the Disney cartoon feature Beauty and the Beast (1990), and Billy Crystal's easily amused agent in Mr. Saturday Night (1992). Orbach perhaps made his most memorable contribution to television, however. After headlining a brief, short-lived detective series entitled The Law and Harry McGraw from September 1987 to February 1988 (a spinoff of Murder, She Wrote), Orbach landed a role that seemed to draw heavily from his Prince of the City portrayal: Detective Lennie Briscoe, a sardonic, mordant police investigator on Wolf's blockbuster cop drama Law & Order.Orbach carried the assignment for twelve seasons, and many attributed a large degree of the program's success to him.Jerry Orbach died of prostate cancer at the age of 69 on December 28, 2004. Three years later, Orbach turned up, posthumously, on subway print advertisements for the New York Eye Bank. As a performer with nearly perfect vision, he had opted to donate his eyes to two women after his death - a reflection on the remarkable humanitarian ideals that characterized his off-camera self.

Highest Rated Movies

Filmography

MOVIES

CREDIT
No Score Yet Broadway's Lost Treasures III: The Best of the Tony Awards Promises 2005
83% Broadway: The Golden Age Actor 2004
No Score Yet Broadway's Lost Treasures II Host 2004
No Score Yet Broadway: The American Musical Actor 2004
No Score Yet Broadway's Lost Treasures Host 2003
22% Manna From Heaven Waltz Contest Announcer $0.2M 2002
20% Prince of Central Park Businessman 2000
No Score Yet Chinese Coffee Jake Manheim 2000
No Score Yet Belle's Tales of Friendship Actor 1999
No Score Yet Exiled (Exiled: A Law & Order Movie) Det. Lennie Briscoe 1998
17% Belle's Magical World Lumiere 1998
13% Beauty and the Beast - The Enchanted Christmas Lumiere 1997
No Score Yet Pacino - An Actor's Vision Actor 1996
40% To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar Used car dealer 1995
27% Aladdin and the King of Thieves Sa'luk 1995
57% The Cemetery Club Actor 1993
58% Mr. Saturday Night Phil Gussman 1992
25% Universal Soldier Dr. Gregor 1992
No Score Yet Broadway Bound Jack 1992
36% Straight Talk Milo Jacoby 1992
No Score Yet Quiet Killer Dr. Vincent Callafato 1992
94% Beauty and the Beast Lumiere $47.7M 1991
44% Delirious Lou Sherwood 1991
No Score Yet Delusion Larry 1991
36% Toy Soldiers Joey's Father (uncredited) 1991
23% Out for Justice Ronnie Donziger 1991
No Score Yet Perry Mason: The Case of the Ruthless Reporter Vic St. John 1991
No Score Yet California Casanova Constantin Rominoffski 1991
No Score Yet Beauty And The Beast Sing-a-long Actor 1991
No Score Yet Upworld Stan Walton 1990
No Score Yet Dead Women in Lingerie Bartoli 1990
93% Crimes and Misdemeanors Jack Rosenthal 1989
No Score Yet Perry Mason: The Case of the Musical Murder Blaine Counter 1989
78% Last Exit to Brooklyn Boyce 1989
70% Someone to Watch over Me Lt. Garber 1987
71% Dirty Dancing Jake $1.9M 1987
No Score Yet I Love N.Y. Leo 1987
No Score Yet Love Among Thieves Spicer 1987
No Score Yet Out on a Limb Mort Viner 1987
88% F/X Nicholas DeFranco 1986
No Score Yet The Imagemaker Byron Caine 1986
No Score Yet Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers Actor 1986
36% Brewster's Millions Charley Pegler 1985
91% Prince of the City Gus Levy 1981
No Score Yet Underground Aces Herbert Penlittle 1980
47% The Sentinel Director 1977
No Score Yet Fore Play (The President's Women) Actor 1975
No Score Yet Foreplay Lorsey 1975
No Score Yet A Fan's Notes Fred 1972
0% The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight Kid Sally Palumbo 1971
No Score Yet John Goldfarb, Please Come Home Pinkerton 1965
No Score Yet Mad Dog Coll Joe 1961
No Score Yet 24 Hours in a Woman's Life Actor 1961
No Score Yet Cop Hater Mumzer 1958

TV

CREDIT
No Score Yet Law & Order
1990-2010
Lehrman Det. Lennie Briscoe
  • 2006
  • 2004
  • 2003
  • 2002
  • 2001
  • 2000
  • 1999
  • 1998
  • 1997
  • 1996
  • 1995
  • 1994
  • 1993
  • 1992
  • 1991
No Score Yet Law & Order: Criminal Intent
2001-2011
Lennie Briscoe
  • 2001
No Score Yet Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
1999
Lennie Briscoe
  • 2000
  • 1999
91% Homicide: Life on the Street
1993-1999
Lennie Briscoe Briscoe
  • 1999
  • 1998
  • 1997
  • 1996
94% Frasier
1993-2004
Guest
  • 1996
No Score Yet Empty Nest
1988-1995
  • 1992
No Score Yet Murder, She Wrote
1984-1996
Harry Harry McGraw
  • 1991
  • 1989
  • 1987
  • 1986
  • 1985
No Score Yet The Golden Girls
1985-1992
Guest
  • 1990
No Score Yet Who's the Boss?
1984-1992
Nick
  • 1990
No Score Yet The Hitchhiker
1983-1991
  • 1987
33% Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
1979-1981
  • 1980
  • 1979
No Score Yet Kojak
1973-1978
Brubaker
  • 1975
  • 1974
No Score Yet Great Performances
2000
Performer

QUOTES FROM Jerry Orbach CHARACTERS