December 29, 2004

Law & Order star Jerry Orbach, dead at 69

Jerry Orbach, known to millions as the curmudgeonly detective Lennie Briscoe on the long-running Law & Order, died Tuesday night of complications from prostate cancer at the age of 69.

Orbach had left L&O at the end of last season, but was slated to star in the newest franchise spin-off Law & Order: Trial By Jury, set to premiere on NBC in February.

Orbach is expected to appear in early episodes of "Law & Order: Trial by Jury," for which he continued as Briscoe in a secondary role, when the series premieres later this season, Davis said.

"I'm immensely saddened by the passing of not only a friend and colleague, but a legendary figure of 20th Century show business," said Dick Wolf, creator and executive producer of the "Law & Order" series, in a statement. "He was one of the most honored performers of his generation. His loss is irreplaceable."

On Broadway, the Bronx-born Orbach starred in hit musicals including "Carnival," "Promises, Promises" (for which he won a Tony Award), "Chicago" and "42nd Street."

Earlier, he was in the original cast of the off-off-Broadway hit "The Fantasticks," playing the narrator. The show went on to run for more than 40 years.

Among his film appearances were roles in "Dirty Dancing," "Prince of the City" and "Crimes and Misdemeanors."

Orbach won an Emmy nomination for best guest appearance in a comedic series for a guest slot on The Golden Girls in 1990.

Orbach's song and dance past came into play in his work in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, where as Lumiere, he sang the well-known song "Be Our Guest," with friend and former Murder She Wrote co-star Angela Lansbury.

He has reprised Lumiere in several other animated and video game projects, including the upcoming Kingdom Hearts 2.

(More coverage from The Dead Pool [Have you submitted your 2005 roster yet? You've got til' Friday night!], Backcountry Conservative, Outside The Beltway & others)

Posted by mhking at December 29, 2004 11:41 AM

He'll be missed. I first remember him as a recurring character on "Murder She Wrote", then saw him on Broadway.
Nice of you to post the tribute.

Posted by: Tony Iovino at December 29, 2004 11:56 AM

do you think you could give me an address where i could write to jerry orbach,s wife her maiden name is cancilla the same as my husbands i would like to find out if some way they are closely related thank you ,i we will miss jerry very much always enjoyed his show thank you joan cancilla

Posted by: joan cancilla at December 31, 2004 10:56 PM
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