TWO SEPARATE BUT EQUALLY IMPORTANT PARTS: "Jerry Orbach Dead At 69." That's how CNN headlines the obit. At least they didn't go as far as VH1 did a few years ago, referring to him in a promo as simply "That guy from 'Law & Order.'" To be sure, Orbach's work on "L&O" is worth remembering--there probably is no truer depiction of either the criminal justice system or the city of New York than the one "Law & Order" has been offering for years now. As a New Yorker in law school, the show's great both for H!ITG! spotting and for H!It's That Place! spotting. Furthermore, the show would invariably be the topic of discussion in Thursday's criminal law class during my 1L year, and the antics of Briscoe and McCoy would lead us into many discussions in other classes as well. Orbach was (and even now, still is) the face of the "L&O" franchise, and that's worth remembering.
But in his image as "That guy from 'Law & Order,'" it's Orbach's other work that gets lost. His filmography is littered with memorable roles, from a bit part as a baseball manager in "Brewster's Millions" to Baby's father in "Dirty Dancing" to singing and dancing candelabra Lumiere in "Beauty and the Beast." Orbach's Broadway work is often forgotten as well. Did you know he not only originated the role of Billy "Mr. Razzle Dazzle" Flynn in "Chicago," but also originated the role of Julian Marsh in "42nd Street," and even played Sky Masterson in "Guys and Dolls."
I'm sure tonight's "L&O" will pay tribute in some way, and I expect the franchise will, in some way, commemorate his passing, but I pay my own humble tribute here.