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ACTOR JERRY ORBACH MEMORIAL SERVICE
Elaine Orbach speaks at the March 24, 2005 memorial service in New York for her husband actor Jerry Orbach who starred in the tv series Law and Order. Jerry Orbach died in Dec. 2004 from cancer. (UPI Photo/Ezio Petersen)
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Jerome Bernard "Jerry" Orbach (October 20, 1935 – December 28, 2004) was an American actor and singer. He was well known for his starring role as Detective Lennie Briscoe in the Law & Order television series and as the voice of Lumière in Disney's Beauty and the Beast. As well, Orbach was a noted musical theatre star. His prominent roles included originating the character of El Gallo in The Fantasticks, the longest-running musical play in history; Chuck Baxter in the original production of Promises, Promises (for which he won a Tony Award); Julian Marsh in 42nd Street; and Billy Flynn in the original production of Chicago.

Orbach was born in the Bronx, the only child of Emily (née Olexy), a greeting card manufacturer and radio singer, and Leon Orbach, a restaurant manager and vaudeville performer. His father was a Jewish immigrant from Hamburg, Germany who was descended from Sephardic refugees from the Spanish Inquisition. His mother, a native of Pennsylvania, was Polish American and Catholic, and Orbach was raised Catholic (a religious background later replicated in his character on Law and Order). Throughout his childhood, the Orbach family moved frequently, living in Mount Vernon, New York; Wilkes-Barre, Nanticoke, and Scranton, Pennsylvania; Springfield, Massachusetts; and Waukegan, Illinois. He studied drama at University of Illinois and Northwestern University and then went to New York, where he studied with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio.

Orbach was an accomplished Broadway and Off Broadway actor. His first major role was El Gallo in the original cast of the decades-running hit The Fantasticks. He also starred in The Threepenny Opera, Carnival!, the musical version of the movie Lili (his Broadway debut), in a revival of Guys and Dolls (as Sky Masterson, receiving a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Musical), Promises, Promises (as Chuck, receiving a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical), the original productions of Chicago (as Billy Flynn, receiving a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor in a Musical), 42nd Street, and a revival of The Cradle Will Rock. Orbach made occasional film and TV appearances into the 1970s.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Jerry Orbach."
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