Jerry Orbach was one of the most recognized performers of his generation, best remembered as NYPD Detective Lennie Briscoe on “Law & Order.” Jerry was a hopeless romantic, according to his late wife, Elaine Orbach.
Jerry’s second wife was Elaine. They had been married for 25 years, and he composed poetry to convey his feelings for her. Here’s how they met.
Jerry and Elaine first met in 1975, when he was performing in the Broadway production of “Chicago” and she was filling in for Velma Kelly. Elaine didn’t have a dressing room because she was a standby.
When Jerry wasn’t on stage, he informed her she could use his dressing room since he was playing poker with the staff. Elaine agreed to his offer, but she was unable to speak with him as he was never in his dressing room.
Elaine and Jerry began flirting with each other over the course of many weeks. Elaine and a buddy went to a pub after one of the shows. They couldn’t locate a table since it was so crowded.
Jerry and the rest of the “Chicago” team were also present, and he asked Elaine to join them at their table. Jerry didn’t want to give Elaine his seat, so he offered his lap, which she accepted.
Elaine was then driven home by the actor. They kissed in the car before dropping her off, and she sensed they had something special. But, the issue was difficult.
Jerry had recently divorced his first wife, Marta Curro, and refused to go on “conventional dates.” He also spent his weekends with his two young sons, Tony and Chris. As a result, Jerry and Elaine were only able to “date” after the program. Nonetheless, they married in 1979.
A wonderful photo of me and Nancy at the wedding of our good friends Marta Curro and Jerry Orbach circa 1958. Jerry and Marta were our best friends in New York. #puppiesandkittensmarch pic.twitter.com/SZ2SDAsh2m— Ed Asner (@TheOnlyEdAsner) March 17, 2020
Jerry’s finances suffered as a result of his divorce from Curro. Elaine once acknowledged that during the early stages of their marriage, they suffered so severely that he raided her money to pay his alimony and child support.
When “Law & Order” became popular, his fortunes increased, and he began making six figures every episode. Fortunately, Jerry was always eager to assist his wife.
Jerry washed the laundry while the Broadway dancer was recovering from back surgery. When other ladies watched Jerry arranging and folding clothing in the apartment complex’s laundry room, Elaine claimed they questioned their spouses why they couldn’t do the same.
Elaine’s friendships with Tony and Chris were not without flaws. Jerry and Elaine couldn’t be with them every day because of their hectic activities.
Despite the “conflict,” Jerry and Elaine were present in the sons’ lives when they required them. She went on to say that she was as close to the kids as the distance permitted.
Jerry was an avid poker player. He’d go to the Lone Star Boat Club and return home at 2 a.m. He began leaving poetry for Elaine on the kitchen table since he couldn’t kiss her good night as she was already asleep.
He used to write about how much money he lost or won. He never stopped composing poetry, and Elaine retained and loved most of them since they provided her courage, solace, and “plenty of chuckles.” One of his poems read: “I know we said ‘No poem today,’ but I woke up so early, I thought I’d write one anyway because you are my girlie! I’ll love you till the day I die!”
Jerry died on December 28, 2004, following a lengthy fight with prostate cancer. One of Elaine’s friends recited a couple of Jerry’s poetry during his burial ceremony, and some recommended she create a book with them.
When Elaine reread them, she was transported back to the moment she discovered them on her kitchen table. They recalled Jerry’s particular relationship and how much courage and joy he offered her via the poetry.
Elaine died on April 1, 2009, four years after Jerry died, as a result of pneumonia. They never had kids, but they enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime romance. Rest in peace.