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Jerry Orbach Obituary

NEW YORK (AP) - Actor Jerry Orbach, who played a sardonic, seen-it-all cop on TV's "Law & Order" and scored on Broadway as a song-and-dance man, has died of prostate cancer at 69, a representative of the show said Wednesday.

Orbach died Tuesday night in Manhattan after several weeks of treatment, Audrey Davis of the public relations agency Lippin Group said.

When his illness was diagnosed, he had begun production on NBC's upcoming spinoff "Law & Order: Trial By Jury," after 12 seasons playing Detective Lennie Briscoe in the original series. His return to the new show had been expected early next year.

On Broadway, the Bronx-born Orbach starred in hit musicals including "Carnival," "Promises, Promises" (for which he won a Tony Award), "Chicago" and "42nd Street."

Earlier, he was in the original cast of the off-off-Broadway hit "The Fantasticks," playing the narrator. The show went on to run for more than 40 years.

In a 2000 Associated Press interview, Orbach said the role in the acclaimed "Law & Order" brought him "wonderful security" rare in the life of an actor.

"All my life, since I was 16, I've been wondering where that next job was gonna come from," he explained. "Now I take the summer off, relax, and I know that at the end of July we're gonna start another season."

He said he didn't know "where I stop and Lennie starts, really. ... I know he's tougher than me and he carries a gun. And I'm not an alcoholic."

"I know I wouldn't want to be him," Orbach sums up. "I guess THAT'S where I stop and he starts."

Among his film appearances were roles in "Dirty Dancing," "Prince of the City" and "Crimes and Misdemeanors."

Copyright © 2004 The Associated Press

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