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General information  

  • Real name : Jerome Bernard Orbach
  • Place of birth : Bronx
  • Date of birth : 20/10/1935
  • Place of death : Manhattan
  • Date of death : 28/12/2004


  • Orbach Jerry


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Jerry Orbach (1935)

Jerome Bernard Orbach

Type :  


Jerome Bernard "Jerry" Orbach (October 20, 1935 – December 28, 2004) was an American actor and singer. He was well known for his starring role as Detective Lennie Briscoe in the Law & Order television series and as the voice of Lumière in Disney's Beauty and the Beast. As well, Orbach was a noted musical theatre star. His prominent roles included originating the character of El Gallo in The Fantasticks, the longest-running musical play in history; Chuck Baxter in the original production of Promises, Promises ; Julian Marsh in 42nd Street; and Billy Flynn in the original production of Chicago.


 early life
Orbach was 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 father was a Jewish immigrant from Hamburg, Germany, who was descended from Sephardic refugees from the Spanish Inquisition. His mother, a native of Pennsylvania, was Polish American and Catholic, and Orbach was raised Catholic . Throughout his childhood, the Orbach family moved frequently, living in Mount Vernon, New York; Wilkes-Barre, Nanticoke, and Scranton, Pennsylvania; Springfield, Massachusetts; and Waukegan, Illinois. He studied drama at University of Illinois and Northwestern University and then went to New York, where he studied with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio.

Orbach was an accomplished Broadway and Off Broadway actor. His first major role was El Gallo in the original cast of the decades-running hit The Fantasticks. He also starred in The Threepenny Opera, Carnival!, the musical version of the movie Lili , in a revival of Guys and Dolls , Promises, Promises , the original productions of Chicago , 42nd Street, and a revival of The Cradle Will Rock. Orbach made occasional film and TV appearances into the 1970s.

In the 1980s, he shifted to film and TV work full-time. Prominent roles included a superb performance as tough, effective, but "allegedly corrupt" NYPD officer Gus Levy in Sidney Lumet's Prince of the City; he was the 1981 runner-up for the NSFC Best Supporting Actor award. He also portrayed Jennifer Grey's father in Dirty Dancing and a gangster in the Woody Allen drama Crimes and Misdemeanors. He starred in the short-lived 1987 crime drama The Law and Harry McGraw, in a role he later reprised as a regular guest star on Murder, She Wrote. He also appeared as a celebrity panelist on both What's My Line? and Super Password, and guest starred on the sitcom The Golden Girls.

In 1991, Orbach starred in the Academy Award-winning animated musical Beauty and the Beast, as the voice of the candelabrum Lumière, a role he would reprise in the film's direct-to-video sequels. He also voiced the character for the video game spin-offs of the series. That same year, he played a NYPD police lieutenant of detectives in Steven Seagal's Out for Justice and appeared as a defense attorney in the Law & Order episode "The Wages of Love". In 1992, Orbach joined the main cast of Law & Order as world-weary, wisecracking, streetwise NYPD police detective Lennie Briscoe. He remained on the show until 2004 and became one of its most popular characters. TV Guide named Briscoe one of their top 50 television detectives of all-time. Orbach was signed to continue in the role on Law & Order: Trial by Jury, but appeared in only the first two episodes of the series. Both episodes aired in March 2005, after his death. The fifth episode of the series, "Baby Boom", and the Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode, "View from Up Here", were dedicated to his memory.

 personal life
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. Younger son Chris Orbach, who is an actor and singer, played Lennie Briscoe's nephew Ken Briscoe on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. In 1979, Jerry Orbach married Broadway dancer Elaine Cancilla, whom he met while starring in Chicago.

Orbach lived in a high-rise on 53rd Street off Eighth Avenue in Hell's Kitchen and was a fixture in that neighborhood's restaurants and shops. His glossy publicity photo hangs in Ms. Buffy's French Cleaners, and he was a regular at some of the Italian restaurants nearby. As of 2007, the intersection of 8th Avenue and 53rd Street was renamed in honor of Orbach. The plans met with some resistance by local planning boards, but were overcome thanks to his popularity and his love of the Big Apple.

In early December 2004, it was announced that Orbach had been receiving treatment for prostate cancer. He died at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York on December 28, 2004 at the age of 69. His agent, Robert Malcolm, announced at the time of his death that Orbach's prostate cancer had been diagnosed more than 10 years before. The day after his death, the marquees on Broadway were dimmed in mourning, one of the highest honors of the American theatre world.

In addition to his sons, wife and ex-wife, Orbach was survived by his mother Emily Orbach and two grandchildren, Peter and Sarah Kate Orbach, his older son Tony's children. The season 14 episode "C.O.D.", the last Law & Order episode featuring Orbach, was re-aired in his memory on December 29, 2004.

One of his wishes while he was alive was to have his eyes donated after his death. His wish was granted when two individuals — one who needed correction for a nearsighted eye and another who needed correction for a farsighted eye — received Orbach's corneas. Orbach's likeness has been used in an ad campaign for Eye Bank for Sight Restoration in Manhattan. His interment was at Trinity Church Cemetery.

Elaine Orbach, his widow, died on April 1, 2009, from pneumonia at the age of 69.

  • Carnival!
  • Guys and Dolls
  • ''Carousel
  • Annie Get Your Gun
  • The Natural Look
  • Promises, Promises
  • 6 Rms Riv Vu
  • Chicago
  • 42nd Street

Off Broadway
  • The Threepenny Opera
  • The Fantasticks
  • The Cradle Will Rock
  • Scuba Duba

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Jerry Orbach", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.