Jerry Orbach

Jerry Orbach


10/20/1935, New York City, New York, USA



Birth Name

Jerome Bernard Orbach


out of 10
User Rating
146 votes


On Broadway, 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…more


Trivia and Quotes

  • Trivia

    • Emmy Award nominations

      In 1990, Jerry was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for his appearance on The Golden Girls.

      He received another Emmy nomination in 1992 in the category of Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Special for the role of Jack in Neil Simon's "Broadway Bound."

      In 2000, he was nominated a third time, in the category of Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his performance as Det. Lennie Briscoe on Law and Order.

    • Jerry and the cast of Law & Order were nominated for 7 Screen Actors Guild Awards from 1997 to 2002 and in 2004, for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.

      Jerry won the 2005 Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series (11th Annual SAG Awards).

    • On September 17, 2007, after Elaine Orbach's long battle with two community boards, the SW corner of 53rd Street and Eighth Avenue was named Jerry Orbach Way.

    • Jerry Orbach was an organ donor. After he passed away, his corneas were donated to two people in New York, helping them to avoid blindness.

    • While starring on Law and Order, Jerry appeared in two public service announcements for NBC's The More You Know campaign. His topics were domestic abuse and school support.

    • Jerry's sons, Tony and Chris, had small parts on Law & Order series. His younger son Chris landed the role of Detective Ken Briscoe, Lennie's nephew. Jerry and Chris shared a scene in the first season episode of Law & Order: SVU "...Or Just Look Like One."

    • He is one of only four actors to play the same character (Det. Lennie Briscoe) in all four Law & Order series: "Law & Order," "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" and "Law & Order: Trial by Jury." The others are Jesse L. Martin (Det. Ed Green), Fred Dalton Thompson (D.A. Arthur Branch), and Leslie Hendrix (Dr. Elizabeth Rodgers).

    • Although he and Steven Hill appeared in 177 episodes of Law & Order and the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Entitled" together, the only time that they ever appeared on screen together was during one brief scene in the Law & Order Season Seven episode "Corruption".

    • He provided the voice for the character Lumiere in the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast (1991).

    • The "Law & Order: Trial by Jury" episode "Baby Boom" concluded with the message "For Jerry".

    • In his scenes on "Law and Order: Trial by Jury," he was so ill that he couldn't speak above a whisper. The scenes were rewritten so that he and the other characters had reason to whisper (outside of a courtroom door).

    • His father was German-Jewish of Spanish Sephardic ancestry and his mother was Polish Catholic. His ethnic background was incorporated into the role of Det. Lennie Briscoe on "Law & Order." Briscoe also had a Jewish father and a Catholic mother. Briscoe stated in an episode that he was raised Catholic.

    • The New York Landmark Conservancy declared him to be a Living Landmark.

    • He appeared as defense attorney Frank Lehrman in the episode "The Wages of Love" (episode 2-2) during the second season of "Law & Order." He joined the regular cast as Detective Lennie Briscoe the following season.

    • In 1976, he received a Best Actor (Musical) Tony Award nomination for his role in the original production of "Chicago."

    • In 1965, he was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Supporting or Featured Actor (Musical) for his role in the revival of "Guys and Dolls."

    • He won the 1969 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of Chuck Baxter in "Promises, Promises," a stage adaptation of Billy Wilder's The Apartment.

    • On March 26th, 2004, he announced that he would be leaving Law & Order after 12 years on the series as Detective Lennie Briscoe.

    • He was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical in 1976 for his performance in Chicago.

    • He auditioned for the roles of Detective Max Greevey and Detective Phil Cerreta on "Law & Order" before being cast as Detective Lennie Briscoe.

    • He worked as a chauffeur for Mae West.

    • He was also the first to perform the role of Julian Marsh in "42nd Street" on Broadway.

    • He was the first to perform the role of Billy Flynn in "Chicago" on the New York stage.

    • He originated the role of El Gallo in "The Fantasticks" on Broadway.

    • He lived in Nanticoke, Pa., during part of his childhood.

    • His first wife was Marta Curro, whom he married in June 1958, at the age of 22. They divorced in 1975. They had two children together, Chris Orbach and Tony Orbach.

    • He studied drama at the University of Illinois and at Northwestern University.

    • He went to high school in Waukegan, Illinois.

    • As a child, he lived in many different cities, moving around with his father Leon, a vaudeville actor, and his mother Emily, a radio singer. He had no siblings.

    • He appeared in a grand total of 272 episodes of Law & Order. S. Epatha Merkerson, who plays Lt. Anita Van Buren on the series, is the only actor to have appeared in more episodes.

  • Quotes

    • (discussing his Broadway debut in Carnival!)
      Jerry Orbach: It was slightly unrewarding. I did all the puppet voices and handled all the puppets —- and the puppets were reviewed as a separate entity, as though it was Jim Henson and the Muppets. It was really me, but nobody knew it. They said, "Oh, he's good, but the puppets are terrific!" I'd say, "Wait a minute, I am the puppets." That's the way it goes sometimes when you're the "stealth bomber." (laughs)

    • Jerry Orbach: Carnival! was a wonderful experience and a show that touched people in a very special way -- especially young girls. Every now and then, somebody comes up to me and says it changed their whole life, and made them fall in love with the theatre.

    • (discussing his character Lennie Briscoe)
      Jerry Orbach: [I don't know] where I stop and Lennie starts, really. ... I know he's tougher than me and he carries a gun. And I'm not an alcoholic.

      I know I wouldn't want to be him. I guess that's where I stop and he starts.

    • (Jerry was at lunch with S. Epatha Merkerson and Benjamin Bratt. Jerry began talking to fans that approached the table. Ms. Merkerson whispered that Jerry's food was getting cold.)
      Jerry Orbach: Kid, these are the people that keep us going!

  • I love this guy!

    Jerry Orbach brought joy to so many people in his life. He was more than a fantastic actor; he was a wonderful person, too, which makes him even more likable. (There's nothing worse than actors or actresses who you like until you learn something of their real personalities.) I still love to watch Orbach's appearances in Murder, She Wrote. His character there was similar to his Law and Order persona, Lennie Briscoe, with hints of the sarcastic lines that would characterize Briscoe appearing in his role as Harry McGraw. Orbach had that rare ability to bring to life a character who is both pitiful and admirable (Briscoe's alcoholism vs. his attempts to fix things with his daughter). As an actor, Orbach gave the world many gifts, and when he passed away, he donated his eyes and gave two grateful New Yorkers an even better gift - sight. He always took time to talk to his fans, recognizing that without them, he would be nothing. Above all, he entered a world in which he couldn't walk around without being recognized and approached by people who loved him, but he still managed to maintain a very down-to-earth perspective. He never forgot where he came from, and he never forgot that it was his fans who helped get him where he was. He was, without a doubt, a man worthy in all senses of his fans' love, and he will be missed by them for a long time to come.moreless
  • Jerry Orbach made the wise-cracking cop look cool. He is sorely missed.

    I cannot give a detailed review of Jerry as I would have liked to. I only remember him from "Dirty Dancing" and the "Law and Order" series. However from the little I've seen, I can say that he was a great actor who made his charaters real and relatable.

    In the "Law and Order" series, I personally believe that he made the wise-cracking cop look cool.In spite of the fact that I myself cannot give a lengthy review of his achievments and acting resume, I do hope however, that Jerry will not be remembered only for playing a wise-cracking officer.

    It's such a tragedy that he's gone. God rest your soul, Jerry.moreless