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Law and Order

Jerry Orbach

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Jerry Orbach
Briscoe Right to Counsel
...as Detective Lennie Briscoe
(L&O Season 3)
Characters
Detective Lennie Briscoe & Frank Lehrman
Date of birth
20 October 1935
Place of birth
The Bronx, New York City
Date of death
28 December 2004
Place of death
Manhattan, New York City
Frank Lehrman
...as Frank Lehrman
IMDb profile

Jerry Orbach was an American actor who played Detective Lennie Briscoe in the Law & Order franchise.

Orbach starred on the original Law & Order series from 1992 to 2004 (Season 3 - Season 14) and became not only one of the longest-lasting cast members of the show, but also one of its most popular. Before his starring role as Briscoe, he played a Defense Attorney named Frank Lehrman in the second season episode "The Wages of Love".

Orbach also appeared in the TV movie Exiled: A Law & Order Movie.

Orbach made guest appearances in the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episodes "...Or Just Look Like One", "Hysteria", and "Entitled". He also appeared in the Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode "Poison".

He also voiced Briscoe for the Law and Order video games "Dead on the Money", "Double or Nothing" and "Justice is Served".

Aside from the Law & Order franchise, Orbach appeared as Lennie Briscoe in the Homicide: Life on the Street crossover episodes "For God and Country", "Baby, It's You: Part 2" and "Sideshow: Part 2".

For his performance as Briscoe, Orbach was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series in 2000 and was posthumously awarded a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series in 2005.

All fans of Orbach should check out his performance as NYPD detective Gus Levy in the 1981 movie Prince of the City, co-starring Treat Williams.

Orbach was signed to continue playing Briscoe on Law & Order: Trial by Jury, but appeared in only the first two episodes of the series. Both episodes aired in March 2005, after his death. The fifth episode of the series, "Baby Boom", was dedicated to his memory, as well as the original series episode "Mammon" and the Criminal Intent episode "View From Up Here".

In early December 2004, it was announced that Orbach had been receiving treatment for prostate cancer since earlier that spring; he died at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City on 28 December 2004. Orbach was 69 years old. His agent, Robert Malcolm, announced at the time of his death that Orbach's prostate cancer had been diagnosed more than 10 years before. The day after his death, the marquees on Broadway were dimmed in mourning, one of the highest honors of the American theatre world. That same day, NBC re-aired the Law and Order episode "C.O.D." (the last episode of the original series to feature Orbach), also in honor of him. Jerry was survived by his wife Elaine, two sons (Tony and Chris) from his first marriage, two grandchildren, and his mother (who lived to be 101).

Trivia Edit

  • Jerry Orbach was the third longest-lasting cast member of the original Law & Order, behind S. Epatha Merkerson and Sam Waterston. Interestingly enough, none of these three actors were part of the original 1990 cast and each joined the show a year apart from the other (Orbach was cast in Season 3, Merkerson in Season 4 and Waterston in Season 5). While Merkerson and Waterston remained on the show until its cancellation in 2010, Orbach was unable to do the same, due to his prostate cancer and subsequent death six years earlier.
  • Before being cast as Lennie Briscoe, Orbach had previously auditioned for the roles of Max Greevey and Phil Cerreta (the first and second Senior Detectives of the series), but was passed over in favor of George Dzundza and Paul Sorvino, respectively; neither of whom lasted more than one season on the show. After auditioning a third time (and winning), Orbach remained on the show far longer than his predecessors and became the longest-lasting cast member to play the role of Senior Detective on Law & Order.
  • Jerry's son Chris appeared as Detective Ken Briscoe (the nephew of Lennie Briscoe) in the first season of Special Victims Unit, and his cousin Ron appeared in Law & Order, Criminal Intent and Trial by Jury. His older son Tony appeared in the Law & Order episode "Doubles" as the First Reporter.



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