After battling prostate cancer, Jerry Orbach has died at age 69, his spokesperson said. Orbach died Tuesday after several weeks of treatment for the disease, which he revealed earlier this month.
Orbach was best-known for his long-running role of the tough-talking NYPD detective Lennie Briscoe on NBC’s Law & Order. He left the series last May to start production on a spinoff series, Law & Order: Trial by Jury, which is scheduled to debut in March. Orbach will appear in the first few episodes, in which he had a supporting role.
He was also an accomplished Broadway actor, starring in hit musicals including Carnival, Promises, Promises (for which he won a Tony Award), Chicago, and 42nd Street. His high-profile film roles include Dirty Dancing, Prince of the City, and Crimes and Misdemeanors. He also lent his voice to that of Lumiere, a singing-and-dancing candlestick, in Disney’s animated musical version of Beauty and the Beast.
”I’m immensely saddened by the passing of not only a friend and colleague, but a legendary figure of 20th century show business,” said Dick Wolf, creator and executive producer of the Law & Order series, in a statement. ”He was one of the most honored performers of his generation. His loss is irreplaceable.”
Orbach is survived by his second wife, Elaine, whom he met doing Chicago and married in 1979, and sons Chris and Tony from his first marriage. Lights on Broadway marquees were expected to be dimmed for one minute at curtain time on Wednesday night in Orbach’s memory.