Detective Briscoe Played By Jerry Orbach: Jerry Orbach was an American actor who won a Tony Award for his performance as Detective Lennie Briscoe on the television series ‘Law & Order.’ He was best recognized for his role as Detective Lennie Briscoe on ‘Law & Order.’
What Was Jerry Orbach’s Background?
Jerry Orbach, an American actor, began his acting career in 1955 after dropping out of college. He starred as El Gallo in The Fantasticks and was nominated for a Tony Award in 1969 for his performance as Promises in the musical Promises. After making the transition to television, Orbach appeared on many episodes of Murder, She Wrote and The Golden Girls. In the film Dirty Dancing, he portrayed the father of Jennifer Grey, who was played by Jennifer Grey herself. Orbach’s most well-known television role was as Detective Lennie Briscoe on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
Infancy and Adolescence
Jerome Bernard Orbach was born on October 20, 1935, in the Bronx, New York, parents Jerome Bernard and Helen Orbach. Emily (née O’Lexy), a greeting card maker, and Leon Orbach, a restaurant manager, are the parents of the sole child. Because neither of Orbach’s parents were newcomers to the performing arts (his father had tried his hand at vaudeville and his mother had worked as a radio singer), they were always supportive of his ambitions to become an actor. The family relocated often when Orbach was in elementary school, eventually settling in Waukegan, Illinois.
There he joined the football team and started studying basic acting skills from his speech instructor, who also happened to be his father. When he graduated from high school in 1952, he went to work as a summer stock actor at the Chevy Chase Country Club in Wheeling, Illinois, where he had the opportunity to try his hand at everything from small appearances to set construction. After a year at the University of Illinois, Orbach moved to Northwestern University, where he completed his studies in the Stanislavsky technique of dramatic writing and performance.
Breaking into the Broadway theatre
The autumn of 1955 marked the beginning of Orbach’s decision to leave Northwestern and go to New York City, where he obtained employment as an understudy in the production of The Threepenny Opera. He remained with the programme for more than three years, ultimately taking on the role of Mack the Knife, the show’s protagonist. During this period, he continued his acting studies under the guidance of Herbert Berghof, Mira Rostova, and Lee Strasberg, all of whom were faculty members of The Actors Studio. In 1959, he got two acting offers at the same time, one for a Broadway play that paid $250 a week and the other for an off-Broadway show that paid just $45 a week.
He accepted both offers. Orbach opted for the latter and created the character of El Gallo in the off-Broadway play The Fantasticks, which received overwhelmingly positive reviews and went on to become the longest-running off-Broadway show in history. The next year, Orbach departed the show to make his Broadway debut in David Merrick’s production of Carnival!, where he received acclaim for both his singing and his acting abilities.
Following this triumph, Orbach suffered a short period of stagnation. Disillusioned by his tendency to be typecast in musicals, he spent a few unhappy months attempting to break into the film industry in Hollywood without success. However, when he went to the East, he found his stride once again, earning a Tony nomination for his portrayal of Skye Masterson in Guys and Dolls and a highly praised performance as a neurotic Jewish intellectual in Scuba Duba, among other roles.
As Chuck Baxter in Promises, Promises, a Neil Simon adaption of Billy Wilder’s 1960 film The Apartment, he went on to win a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical in 1969 for his depiction of the character of Chuck Baxter. In 1976, he was nominated for another Tony Award for his performance in Chicago. In 1981, he made his last appearance on Broadway, in the role of Julian Marsh in 42nd Street at the Majestic Theatre in New York City.