Jerry Orbach, the stage actor who became best known for his long-running role on TV's Law & Order, died Tuesday night after several weeks of treatment for prostate cancer; he was 69. Orbach was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year just as he had started production on the Law & Order franchise's fourth series, Law & Order: Trial by Jury, slated for broadcast in early 2005. The Bronx-born actor initially found fame on the stage, starring as the narrator in the soon-to-be long-running The Fantasticks, and then going on to star in a number of big-budget musicals for Broadway producer David Merrick. Winning a Tony award for Promises, Promises (based on the movie The Apartment), Orbach also created roles in the legendary musicals Chicago in 1975 and 42nd Street in 1980. His onscreen career, in both TV and film, started with low-key character parts, but he rose to prominence in the 80s with roles in movies such as Prince of the City, Crimes and Misdemeanors, F/X[b/], and [b]Dirty Dancing, in which he played the supportive father of Jennifer Grey's Baby. Orbach also provided the voice for the singing candelabra Lumiere in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, in which he sang the show-stopping "Be Our Guest" number. It was his 12-year stint as street-smart New York detective Lennie Briscoe on Law & Order, however, that would become his signature role and make him an instantly recognizable face to millions of viewers. Joining the show in its third season, he received an Emmy nomination for the part in 2000 and became the actor most readily associated with the hit New York-based show, so much so that the city of New York declared him a "living landmark" in 2002. Orbach is survived by his second wife, Elaine (whom he met while doing Chicago and married in 1979), and two sons, Chris Orbach and Tony Orbach, from his first marriage.
wow, he was lumiere? i can't believe i never knew that! but then, i'm so used to him as he is in law and order, i never EVER would have made the connection. the man had serious range! i'm sure he'll be sorely missed
My mom's a 'Law & Order'holic, so i was bound to see parts of the show quite often. Lenny was both funny & intimidating, usually at the same time. Hard to imagine anyone but Jerry giving that much life to that character (or any character he played).
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