NEW YORK – Jerry Orbach was mourned with music and meditations Friday during a funeral where he was remembered as the quintessential New Yorker on the long-running police drama "Law & Order." (search)
"He always knew his lines — and yours too," said choked-up co-star Sam Waterston, who joined 300 people for the hourlong service at Riverside Memorial Chapel (search) on Manhattan's West Side.
Orbach, a Broadway song-and-dance man who achieved his widest fame as Detective Lennie Briscoe on TV's "Law & Order," died of prostate cancer Tuesday night at age 69.
Show business figures including Chris Noth (search), Olympia Dukakis, Danny Aiello, Tony Roberts, Michael Imperioli, Brian Dennehy, Benjamin Bratt and Malachy McCourt attended the secular service, where Orbach lay in a simple wooden coffin draped with white blossoms under the chapel's vaulted, blue-and-gold ceiling.
Broadway legend Chita Rivera had fond memories of Orbach, who appeared with her in "Chicago" in 1975. "This huge silhouette would appear in a fedora, smoking a cigar," she said. "There was our anchor. There was our rock in a pinstriped suit."
Ed Sherin, executive producer of "Law & Order," said, "Jerry was my best friend, and I imagine there are a lot of people here who would say the same."
The service was led by family friend Elizabeth Hepburn, who started and closed the ceremony by leading mourners in a breathing meditation. The music included John Denver's "Perhaps Love" and a guitarist playing "Lullaby of Broadway."
Orbach began his rise in New York theater in 1960 playing El Gallo in the original cast of the off-Broadway hit "The Fantasticks."
He costarred in a string of hit Broadway musicals including "Carnival!," "Promises, Promises," "Chicago" and "42nd Street."
Among Orbach's film credits were "The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight," "Prince of the City," "Postcards From the Edge," "Crimes and Misdemeanors," and "Dirty Dancing." He also sang in the Disney animated feature "Beauty and the Beast" as the voice of the candlestick Lumiere.
He played Briscoe for 12 years on "Law & Order," and is expected to appear in early "Law & Order: Trial By Jury" episodes when the show premieres in March.
Orbach won a Tony Award in 1969 for "Promises, Promises" and earned three Emmy nominations: in 2000 for "Law & Order," in 1992 for an ABC production of Neil Simon's "Broadway Bound" and in 1990 for an episode of "The Golden Girls."