Jerry Orbach


  1. Donald Moffat, The Thing, 1981. Powers Booth, Kevin Conway, Richard Mulligan, Jerry Orbach, Lee Van Cleef  and the British Moffat, all read for Garry in John Carpenter’s unwanted re-hash of the (so-so) 1950 original produced (some say, directed) by Howard Hawks.  
  2. Allen Garfield, Get Crazy, 1983.   “Every role, there was an argument” – director Allan Arkush on his third movie. “We wanted Jerry to play the owner; he was much more like Bill Graham.” A suit called Herb Solow went with Garfield, a former boxer, journalist and Actors Studio student who later changed his credits to his true name: Allen Goorwitz.
  3. George Dzundza, Law & Order, TV, 1990-1991. When casting the 1988 pilot, no one, certainly not the now iconic producer Dick Wolf, thought this cop-art would still  be running some 30 years later… and  spawning five spin-offs.   For the top cop partners, Dzundza, Sheen and Jerry Orbach were seen for Sergeant Max Greevey, and Michael Madsen or Chris Noth for Detective Mike Logan.  Dzundza and Noth got the gigs.  Orbach, anf old Broadway song-and-dance man,  later joined the show in 1992 as Detective Lennie Briscoe – for twelve years. He died of prostate cancer after shooting two chapters  of the latest spin-off, Law & Order: Trial By Jury, not aired until after his 2004 death. The series  was axed  after 13 episodes, the shortest run of any Dick Wolf series – and all because Jerry and Lennie were no more.
  4. Paul Sorvino, Law & Order, TV, 1991-1992. Although not keen keen on a series after witnessing how much his pal, David Janssen, was exhausted by The Fugitive, Orbach tested and lost again – as Sorvino took over from George Dzundza. In 1992, it was third time lucky as Orbach succeeded Sorvino and became The Face of Law & Order as top cop Lennie Briscoe for 274 case-histories until 2004. After just two chapters of producer Dick Wolf’s third spin-off, Law & Order: Trial By Jury, Orbachdied of prostate cancer.
  5. Dan Heyada, Clueless, 1994.    Orbach and Harvey Keitel were seen for the wealthy lawyer father of Alicia Silverstone’s  teen queenin director Amy Heckerling’s Beverly Hills flip-side of her Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Keitel was too pricey and Orbach couldn’t get time off or good behaviour from Law & Order. They missed a treat.  “A smart and funny movie,” said Chicago critic Roger Ebert, ”and the characters are in on the joke.”


 Birth year: 1934Death year: 2004Other name: Casting Calls:  5