December 29, 2004

Try to Remember: Jerry Orbach


L and I are both huge Law & Order fans and even considered inviting S. Epatha Merkerson to our wedding, so it was with great sadness that I learned today of the passing of Jerry Orbach.

Even though the years he spent playing wisecracking Detective Lennie Briscoe will loom large in the obituaries and television tributes this week, I first got to know Jerry's talents from a recording of The Fantasticks I received as a birthday present when I was in high school. As El Gallo, or the narrator of that long-running off-Broadway classic, he was the first person to bring life to the show's signature song, "Try to Remember."

Orbach was never a huge star in the way we think of celebrities today, but instead was one of those rare actors who did so many things across film, television and theater that it was hard to imagine someone like him ever dying.

I always got the impression that no matter what part he played - a theatrical director in "42nd Street," a mobster named Jack Rosenthal in "Crimes and Misdemeanors," or a talking candlelabra in "Beauty and the Beast" - the real Jerry Orbach was never too far below the surface. I'm sure others feel the same way. How else can you explain the affection pouring out of all corners of the Internet today for a 69-year-old actor?

Goodbye, Jerry. You are already missed.

Posted by Doug at December 29, 2004 03:13 PM

A very sad day.

Posted by: Evan at December 29, 2004 04:11 PM

We will miss him too. We saw 42nd Street for my 30th birthday when a 10th row center orchestra seat was $30. I guess Jerry and affordable seats on Broadway are both part of history now.
Happy New Year. Love to all.

Posted by: Carol N. at December 31, 2004 02:35 PM

To me, he'll always be Dr Houseman, the culprit who put Baby in the corner.... :)

Posted by: E from Michigan at January 5, 2005 12:04 PM

The first episode of Law and Order was on Wed. since Jerry died and had a beautiful memorial to him at the end with music from the Fantastics playing in the background. It made me tear up just like your beautiful note makes me tear up every time I read it. He was really a talented person, and will definitely be missed.

Posted by: MOB at January 7, 2005 09:09 AM