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Jerry Orbach

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Jerome Bernard Orbach (October 20, 1935 – December 28, 2004) was an American actor best known for his starring role as wisecracking Detective Lennie Briscoe in the Law & Order television series and for his musical theater roles.

Orbach was born in the Bronx, a borough of New York City, son of Emily Olexy (a Polish American Roman Catholic) and the late Leon Orbach, a German Jew of Sephardic descent. He was an only child and raised as a Roman Catholic.

While he was still a child, his family moved to Mount Vernon, New York; Wilkes-Barre and Scranton, Pennsylvania; Springfield, Massachusetts; and Waukegan, Illinois. He studied drama at the University of Illinois and Northwestern University, 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 that of El Gallo in the original cast of the decades-running hit The Fantasticks. He also starred in Carnival!, the musical version of the movie Lili. He also starred in a revival of Guys and Dolls (Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Musical), Promises, Promises (Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical), the original productions of Chicago (Tony Award nomination for Best Actor in a Musical) and 42nd Street (playing famous Broadway director Julian Marsh), and a revival of The Cradle Will Rock.

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