Jerry Orbach - Rotten Tomatoes

Jerry Orbach

Highest Rated:   95% Prince of the City (1981)
Birthday:  
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

RATING TITLE CREDIT BOX OFFICE YEAR
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
39% To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar
  • Used car dealer
1995
27% Aladdin and the King of Thieves
  • Sa'luk
1995
67% The Cemetery Club
  • Actor
1993
56% Mr. Saturday Night
  • Phil Gussman
1992
22% Universal Soldier
  • Dr. Gregor
1992
No Score Yet Broadway Bound
  • Jack
1992
40% 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
76% Someone to Watch over Me
  • Lt. Garber
1987
72% 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
86% 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
95% Prince of the City
  • Gus Levy
1981
No Score Yet Underground Aces
  • Herbert Penlittle
1980
58% 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
No Score Yet 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

Quotes from Jerry Orbach's Characters