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The 7 - Movies & TV - Jerry Orbach Dead at age 69
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#1 Posted on 29.12.04 0918.22
Reposted on: 29.12.11 0918.28
AP reported around 9:15 a.m. Central today that Jerry Orbach, TV's Lenny Briscoe of "Law & Order" fame, died from prostate cancer at age 69.

From a fan of the show (and the Mrs. Yaki being a fan, too)... this sucks.

IIRC, Orbach was working on the new spinoff "L&O: Trial By Jury."
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#2 Posted on 29.12.04 0924.00
Reposted on: 29.12.11 0929.02
That absolutely sucks. He was awesome as Lenny, as the voice of Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast...and in just about every other damn thing he's done.

My mom will really miss this guy. Know will I.
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#3 Posted on 29.12.04 0935.14
Reposted on: 29.12.11 0935.23
Ah crap. What a bummer.
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#4 Posted on 29.12.04 0943.09
Reposted on: 29.12.11 0943.27
Here's the obit from ( and the AP story via Yahoo (

He was just diagnosed earlier this year, too.

(edited by Ryan_A on 29.12.04 0943)

(edited by Ryan_A on 29.12.04 1011)
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#5 Posted on 29.12.04 1040.53
Reposted on: 29.12.11 1042.56
Law & Order hasn't been the same without him...RIP Lenny.

One of the best interviews I've ever seen was him on Conan, talking about his tenure on L&O, and how much respect he got from the NYPD, with numerous detectives, telling him thanks for making us look good.
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#6 Posted on 29.12.04 1316.45
Reposted on: 29.12.11 1318.35
Wow, that sucks. I hadn't even heard that he was sick. I'm a semi-frequent viewer of L&O. I always liked his performances on there, and the few new episodes I've seen with Dennis Farina haven't been as good as the ones with Orbach. Quite a shame to read this sad news.
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#7 Posted on 29.12.04 1335.15
Reposted on: 29.12.11 1336.07
The new episodes with Dennis Farina have sucked without Briscoe. Good thing TNT reruns that show 2-3 times in a row every night. Me & Mrs. Freeze love that show, and we were really looking forward to Briscoe's spin-off.

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#8 Posted on 29.12.04 1737.44
Reposted on: 29.12.11 1740.41
Despite all of the great moments on L&O, my favourite Jerry Orbach memory was when I was rummaging through some of my mom's old records, and found a cast recording of Chicago from 1972, starring, you guessed it, the man himself. It blew my mind that this guy who looked born to play a grizzled old cop was also a first-rate Broadway star. He was an actor who could really do it all. RIP Jerry Orbach.
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#9 Posted on 29.12.04 2307.26
Reposted on: 29.12.11 2308.55
This is horribly depressing. Lenny Briscoe might as well be family in the Lund household. I can't count the hours I've spent watching Law & Order.

If anyone needs cheering up, here's a fun picture of Lenny:

And there are more at:

That site's pretty fun. Can't remember how I stumbled across it. Maybe FARK or an old thread here. There's a funny Law & Order coloring book link on the right ("An Adventure to Color").
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#10 Posted on 30.12.04 0825.07
Reposted on: 30.12.11 0825.47
I guess nobody will be around to put Baby in a corner anymore. RIP Jerry. Class act guy!
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#11 Posted on 30.12.04 1657.22
Reposted on: 30.12.11 1657.40
I remember reading this story a few years ago, I think it was about Julianna Margulies when she was still on ER. She was doing a photoshoot for some magazine and for some reason it involved her being made up to look like a man. And they were so impressed with their work that they took her out to see if they could fool people, and they ended up going to some men's club in NYC where old guys were sitting around in their boxers in the steam room while they played cards.

So she goes in there and someone introduced her as a prospective club member, and all of a sudden Jerry Orbach (who she knew in her normal life as a woman) got up and walked over and shook her hand and was asking her questions. She kinda felt bad about fooling him, but the point was what a genuinely nice guy he was that he'd go up to someone he thought was a total stranger to strike up a conversation. While in his boxers, no less.

I just read a few weeks ago that he'd been diagnosed with cancer, but that he was still working on the new spinoff and they figured he'd be fine. I guess they caught it really late? What a bummer.
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#12 Posted on 30.12.04 1734.57
Reposted on: 30.12.11 1735.30 says 6 episodes of his new L&O spin-off (he appears in at least 2) have already been taped. NBC is going to replace him & carry on with the series, but no word on who will get the role or how Briscoe will be written off the show.

One note of interest:

    Orbach agreed earlier this year to transfer from the original "Law & Order," where he spent 12 seasons, to "[Law & Order: Trial by Jury]" in a reduced role in order to accommodate the actor. After more than a decade of carrying a heavy workload on "Order," "Jury" required only two days a week.
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#13 Posted on 30.12.04 1856.08
Reposted on: 30.12.11 1856.13
Like all of you, Jerry Orbach's presence has been in my house for years. He was the wiseass cool cop. A great actor, seemingly better person. Rest Jerry and Bless you!
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#14 Posted on 30.12.04 1932.41
Reposted on: 30.12.11 1934.36
This is a real loss, but to me he will always be the man that DID "put Baby in the corner."
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#15 Posted on 30.12.04 2201.55
Reposted on: 30.12.11 2203.26
    Originally posted by StaggerLee
    I guess nobody will be around to put Baby in a corner anymore. RIP Jerry. Class act guy!

And NOBODY puts Baby in a corner.
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#16 Posted on 30.12.04 2341.33
Reposted on: 30.12.11 2341.38
Although Jerry Orbach was born in the Bronx and lived in NYC most of his life, he grew up and went to high school in Waukegan, IL. Waukegan is about 30 minutes north of Chicago and is my hometown.

Here's the obit from the Waukegan News Sun:

Dead at 69: Law & Order star grew up in Waukegan
By Dan Moran
STAFF WRITER Waukegan News-Sun 12.30.04

WAUKEGAN He was born in the Bronx and returned to New York to achieve his greatest fame. But Jerry Orbach always made it clear that he was made in Waukegan.

"If I hadn't become an actor, I probably would have been a pool hustler," he said in 1969 after winning a Tony Award for the Broadway hit Promises, Promises. "I've been fascinated with the game since I was 10 years old. My father used to take me to the Elks Club on Saturdays when I was a kid in Waukegan.

"There was a pool table there ... and the rest is not history. (But) pool and acting are closely related just playing pool is only part of the hustler's job," he added. "It's the acting that makes it fun for me."

The lanky, toothy actor whose range took him from those pool halls to Broadway and Hollywood died Tuesday following a battle with prostate cancer that was publicly disclosed only last month. He was 69.

Orbach, best known for his 12-year stint as Det. Lenny Briscoe on the NBC drama Law & Order, was honored by Waukegan Wednesday night when the marquee at the Genesee Theatre was dimmed at 7 p.m., in keeping with Broadway tradition.

Orbach was a member of the Genesee's honorary Board of Directors, and former Genesee executive director Jim Neal recalled discussing the theater's renovation project with Orbach over a cheese omelet at a New York deli some four years ago.

"When we first talked to people about joining the board, he jumped at it, he was one of the first to respond," Neal said Wednesday. "Jerry was very supportive of the project. I flew out to New York and showed him all the plans, and he remembered the Genesee fondly. He couldn't get enough time talking about how he and (his friends) snuck into the Genesee on fire escapes to see moves when they were kids."

Neal added that the experience left him thinking that "there's something about people from Waukegan. Once there from Waukegan, there's always from Waukegan. They're always down to earth. I think it made him a common man."

Born Oct. 20, 1935, Jerome Bernard Orbach was the only child of a former vaudeville-comic father and a mother who had done some professional singing. The family moved around quite a bit in Orbach's youth, stopping in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts before his father, Leon, took a job as restaurant manager at Waukegan's old Neisner Brothers Department Store on north Genesee Street.

Jerry Orbach had reached the seventh grade by that point, but he would stay in Waukegan until he became a young man.

"We liked it here and figured it was time to settle down," he told The News Sun in June 1974, while in the Chicago area to headline at the Pheasant Run in St. Charles. "Waukegan was a microcosm; a tremendous melting pot of everything."

The Orbachs originally lived in a two-flat on the 1500 block of Lloyd Avenue but eventually moved to a nicer home on the 400 block of McAlister. In a 1994 interview with the News Sun, Orbach recalled playing in the nearby ravine, saying "there used to be a beautiful lake there, and we'd skate down in the hollow."

Orbach attended Andrew Cooke School and entered Waukegan High School as a 12-year-old. His high school years would be marked by participation in everything from ROTC to football, but his passion for acting became evident, as he performed in numerous musicals and plays under the tutelage of drama teacher Melba Wixom.

Marlene Hunt, who was a few years behind Orbach at Waukegan High, recalled him a handsome and popular classmate who wasn't above helping a shy kid outside his circle.

"If you look at his yearbook picture, it kind of reminds me of The Fonz he had beautiful black hair that he would comb back in a duck-cut," Hunt said. "I remember being in a speech class with him, and it was my turn (and) I remember kind of crying because I was afraid to give a speech.

"So the tears were flowing, and he told me, 'Tell you what take off your glasses, look and me and smile once in a while.' It worked, because I couldn't see a thing. He was a really kind person."

James McGrain, who graduated a year after Orbach, described a young man who knew how to court the ladies.

"The thing I remember most about him is that in high school we would have these dances after games," said McGrain, 'and, God, that guy could dance. All the gals would line up to dance with him. That was the thing that made him popular."

Following his high school graduation at the age of 16, Orbach attended the University of Illinois for a year before transferring to Northwesthern University. At both stops, he was active in theater. News Sun clippings from the early 1950s mention "Jerome Orbach, son of Mr. and Mrs. Leon Orbach" starring in university productions and summer stock shows at the Chevy Chase Theatre in Wheeling.

At the end of his junior year at Northwestern, Orbach headed for New York to try his hand at the stage. He soon landed a role in an Off-Broadway production of The Threepenny Opera, though he would also travel to stock companies in Ohio before landing his first big Off-Broadway break in 1960 a turn as The Narrator in The Fantasticks.

One New York reviewer of the day described Orbach as "a properly confident fellow" with "an interesting face, a controlled voice and a clear intelligence ... Mr. Orbach is no doubt on his way."

Throughout the 1960s, Orbach established himself on Broadway in such productions as Carnival and Guys and Dolls. He also married the former Marta Curro, with whom he would have two sons, Tony and Chris.

After dabbling in minor film roles dating back to 1958's Cop Hater, Orbach's first big-screen splash came in 1972 as Kid Sally Palumbo in The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight. The Genesee Theatre ran ads touting the comedy as "starring Jerry Orbach Native of Waukegan." Though the film which also starred a young Robert DeNiro was a critical and financial disappointment, it led Orbach to an unlikely friendship with one of the film's inspirations, mobster Joey Gallo.

Gallo reportedly extended a dinner invitation to Orbach and his then-wife, Marta, after seeing the film, and subsequently collaborated with them on an autobiography. Mob lore has it that the Orbachs partied with Gallo in April 1972 at New York's Copacobana, parting company only hours before the gangster was gunned down by rivals in a seafood restaurant.

Wire services reported that Orbach and his wife were briefly placed under police protection following Gallo's murder after police fielded an anonymous threat to bomb their car.

Both Orbach and his career would survive the experience, as he took on more supporting film roles and began to win critical notice in such movies as Sidney Lumet's Prince of the City (1981) and F/X (1986). In 1987, Orbach played Jennifer Grey's stern but eventually supportive father in the smash hit Dirty Dancing.

The two roles that would both define Orbach's career and occupy the final decade of his life arrived in 1991. First, he was the voice of Lumiere, the French-accented candelabra, in Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Orbach's singing voice was immortalized with the tune "Be Our Guest," which was nominated for a Best Original Song Oscar. He would go on to voice Lumiere in a series of sequels and Disney specials.

Then, in September 1991, Orbach guest starred as a defense lawyer on Law & Order, a turn that led directly to being cast the following season as the hard-edged, bitingly sarcastic but troubled Lenny Briscoe.

"It's onward and upward. I hope Law & Order goes on for a long time," Orbach told The News Sun in 1994. "I've been playing cops and gangsters a lot, but this is a detective. It fits right."

Orbach, who earned an Emmy nomination in 2000, departed Law & Order following the 2004 season and was set to star in a spinoff, Law & Order: Trial by Jury. It would have been his 58th role in a film, television or video production.

And in at least one of those roles, Orbach managed to work in a gratuitous reference to his hometown. Playing a crusty Chicago Sun-Times editor in the 1992 Dolly Parton comedy Straight Talk, Orbach urged ace reporter James Woods to come up with a hot story "like the one you found up in Waukegan."

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#17 Posted on 31.12.04 0243.30
Reposted on: 31.12.11 0244.08
My mom is so sad now. She loved this guy.

RIP, Jerry.
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