NEW YORK – Friends and colleagues gathered on Broadway to celebrate the life of Jerry Orbach (search), the song-and-dance man turned TV star.
Master of ceremonies Sam Waterston (search), Orbach's co-star on "Law & Order," (search) said that Orbach, who died of prostate cancer Dec. 28 at age 69, was "Mr. Broadway, the Babe Ruth of the boards, and his record will be very hard to beat."
"He gave more performances as a leading actor in Broadway musicals than any other actor in the whole of history," Waterston said.
Orbach, the star of stage musicals from "The Fantasticks" to "Chicago," achieved his widest fame as wisecracking Detective Lennie Briscoe on "Law & Order."
Thursday's tribute at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, where Orbach starred in "Chicago" in the 1970s, featured clips from "Law & Order" and movies in which Orbach appeared, including "Crimes and Misdemeanors" and "Prince of the City." Al Pacino and Richard Dreyfuss were among those who attended.
Angela Lansbury recalled luring Orbach to appear on her TV show, "Murder She Wrote," before he got his own long-running crime drama.
"To have Jerry on the set with me, it was like a breath of Broadway," she said. "Jerry was such a warm and accessible person, so kind and generous-hearted. I'm so very proud to have known Jerry and to have been part of his circle."
Orbach's widow, Elaine Orbach, said he used to leave her a poem every morning before he left for work.
Jane Alexander, a friend of the couple's and Orbach's co-star three decades ago in "6 Rms Riv Vu," read a selection of them, including:
"A chilly Thursday morning. The wind could freeze your liver.
"And so, where are we filming? 113th and the River."