Jerry Orbach was an American actor and singer who had a net worth of $10 million dollars at the time of his death in 2004. Jerry Orbach was an actor and singer of stage, film, and television. Notably, he appeared in the original stage productions of the musicals “The Fantasticks,” “Chicago,” and “42nd Street,” and won a Tony Award for his performance in “Promises, Promises.” Orbach’s other credits include the films “Dirty Dancing,” “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” and “Beauty and the Beast,” and the police procedural television series “Law & Order,” which launched him to global stardom.
Early Life and Career Beginnings
Jerry Orbach was born on October 20, 1935 in the Bronx borough of New York City. He was the only child of Leon, a Jewish restaurant manager and vaudeville performer, and Emily, a radio singer and greeting card maker. Growing up, Orbach was raised in the Roman Catholic faith of his mother. The family moved frequently, living in such places as Mount Vernon, New York; Scranton, Pennsylvania; and Springfield, Massachusetts. They finally settled in Waukegan, Illinois, where Orbach went to Waukegan High School. There, he played football. After graduating from high school, Orbach worked for a summer at Chevy Chase Country Club’s theatre in Wheeling, Illinois. He subsequently enrolled at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, before transferring to Northwestern University. Orbach ultimately dropped out of college before his senior year, and moved to New York City to pursue his acting career at the Actors Studio.
Orbach first appeared on screen in 1955, with uncredited parts in “Guys and Dolls” and “Marty.” The same year, he debuted on stage in a production of “The Threepenny Opera.”
In 1960, Orbach landed his first major role, playing El Gallo in the original production of the decades-running hit musical “The Fantasticks.” Following this, he appeared in the musical “Carnival!” and a revival of the play “The Cradle Will Rock.” In 1965, Orbach played Sky Masterson in a revival of the musical “Guys and Dolls,” for which he received his first Tony Award nomination. He was subsequently in “Carousel,” “Annie Get Your Gun,” “The Natural Look,” and “Scuba Duba.” Orbach had one of his most acclaimed roles from 1968 to 1972, when he played Chuck Baxter in the musical “Promises, Promises”; for his performance, he won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical. He followed this with the play “6 Rms Riv Vu.” In 1975, Orbach originated the role of Billy Flynn in the hit musical “Chicago,” earning his third Tony nomination. Five years later, he originated the role of Julian Marsh in another hit musical, “42nd Street.”
On the silver screen, Orbach had his first notable role in the 1961 biographical drama “Mad Dog Coll.” He next had parts in “Ensign Pulver” and “John Goldfarb, Please Come Home.” Orbach’s first starring role in a film came in 1971, when he played mobster Salvatore Palumbo in the crime comedy “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.” Following this, he appeared in the comedies “A Fan’s Notes” and “Fore Play,” the supernatural horror film “The Sentinel,” and the ensemble comedy “Underground Aces.” In 1981, Orbach gave one of his most acclaimed film performances in Sidney Lumet’s neo-noir crime drama “Prince of the City,” in which he played corrupt NYPD narcotics detective Gus Levy. He was subsequently in the comedy “Brewster’s Millions”; the action thriller “F/X”; the romantic dance drama “Dirty Dancing”; the crime thriller “Someone to Watch Over Me”; and the dramedy “I Love N.Y.” Orbach closed out the 80s with roles in “Last Exit to Brooklyn” and Woody Allen’s “Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
Orbach had a big year in 1991, appearing in seven films. Among them were the fantasy comedy “A Gnome Named Gnorm,” the action film “Out for Justice,” and the comedy “Delirious.” Orbach’s most famous credit that year was the Disney animated musical “Beauty and the Beast,” in which he voiced the French-accented candelabrum Lumière and performed one of the film’s most memorable numbers, “Be Our Guest.” The actor went on to appear in such films as “Straight Talk,” “Universal Soldier,” and “Mr. Saturday Night.” In the early 2000s, Orbach was in “The Acting Class,” “The Road to El Dorado,” “Chinese Coffee,” and “Manna from Heaven.” His final film role was as a police investigator in 2004’s “Protestors.”
Orbach began his television career in 1961 in the television movie “Twenty-Four Hours in a Woman’s Life.” Six years later, he was in a television movie adaptation of the musical “Annie Get Your Gun,” in which he reprised his role from the stage production. Orbach subsequently made appearances on a number of popular series, including “Love, American Style,” “Medical Center,” “Kojak,” and “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.” From 1985 to 1991, he had a recurring role as private detective Harry McGraw on “Murder, She Wrote.” Orbach reprised this role from 1987 to 1988 on the spinoff series “The Law & Harry McGraw.” In 1990, he earned his first Emmy Award nomination for his guest appearance on “The Golden Girls.” He received another nomination two years later for his supporting performance in the television movie “Broadway Bound.”
Orbach achieved global fame in 1992, when he joined the cast of the police procedural series “Law & Order” as world-weary NYPD homicide detective Lennie Briscoe. Starring as the character for over 11 seasons through 2004, Orbach became one of the longest-serving cast members in the show’s history, in addition to one of its most popular. In 2000, he earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, and in 2004, won a posthumous SAG Award. Orbach reprised his role as Lennie Briscoe on a number of other programs, including “Homicide: Life on the Street” and the “Law & Order” sequels “Special Victims Unit,” “Criminal Intent,” and “Trial by Jury.”
Personal Life and Death
In 1958, Orbach married his first wife, Marta Curro; they had two sons named Anthony and Christopher, and divorced in 1975. Four years later, Orbach married Broadway dancer Elaine Cancilla, with whom he was with until his passing.
Orbach was diagnosed with prostate cancer in January of 1994. He underwent radiation therapy, and then went on hormone therapy for the next decade as he continued to star on “Law & Order.” After leaving the show in 2004, he underwent chemotherapy. Ultimately, Orbach passed away in December of that year at the age of 69. His illness was not revealed to the public until a few weeks before this. Having had perfect 20/20 vision, Orbach requested that his eyes be donated following his passing, a wish that was fulfilled.
|Net Worth:||$10 Million|
|Date of Birth:||Oct 20, 1935 – Dec 28, 2004 (69 years old)|
|Height:||6 ft 1 in (1.867 m)|
|Profession:||Actor, Singer, Voice Actor|
|Nationality:||United States of America|