Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Miles from the Mainstream
D. R. ZUKERMAN, proprietor
Jerry Orbach:
A Federalist 57 Kind of Guy

JANUARY 2, 2005 --

There is a scene in the movie "It's a Wonderful Life" where George Bailey, played by James Stewart, is told by his father, played by Samuel Hinds, that he was "born older."

I was saddened to hear a radio report of the death of Jerry Orbach, and also surprised that he was only 69 years old. Perhaps, like George Bailey, it is just that he was born older, a thought not discouraged by his distniguished career in
theatre, films and television of so many years' standing.

I saw Mr. Orbach on stage only once -- in "Carnival," the musical based on the movie "Lili." Some 40 years after "Carnival" opened, I happened to spot Mr. Orbach in the Inwood section of Manahattan, on location with "Law & Order" miles north of midtown.

I hastily purchased a disposable camera, and, getting back to the set, shouted a compliment about his work in "Carnival." Mr. Orbach walked over, took the camera
from me and, handing it to an assistant director, asked her to take a picture of the two of us, saying, "We go back a long ways."

That picture and a few others appeared in The Voice, a now-defunct weekly that was published in Winsted, CT -- yup, Ralph Nader's hometown. (Mr. Nader's writing also appeared in The Voice.)

One year later, I spotted "Law & Order" on location in the Riverdale section of The Bronx, and got another photo of Mr. Orbach, with Jesse L. Martin, into The
Voice. (This photo is on-line. Google "Jerry Orbach Winsted" to click The Voice website for this photo -- along with others of that second "Law & Order" on-location story.)

Sam Waterston's eulogy at the funeral service for Mr. Orbach has been widely reported. The reports I have seen did not include Mr. Waterston's observation that
there was no wall between Jerry Orbach and cast, crew -- or fans. I, of course, learned this in way-upper Manhattan, in February 2001.

And now, nearly four years lster, on the sad occsion of our loss of Jerry Orbach, Mr. Waterston prompts this fine-tuning of the message of Federalist 57 -- that in our society there isn't supposed to be a wall between our leaders and us.

Following Jerry Orbach's Funeral on Dec. 31 -- Law & Order's Sam Waterston (Jack McCoy), S. Epatha Merkerson (Lt. Anita Van Buren), followed by Chris Noth, formerly Det. Mike Logan.

Actor Danny Aiello ("Moonstruck," "Do The Right Thing").


Dominic Chianese ("The Sopranos") and Jeffrey L. Gurian.


Sam Waterston and S. Epatha Merkerson.


Actor Tony LoBianco ("The Juror," "The French Connection"), with Danny Aiello in the background.