NEW YORK – Actor Jerry Orbach (search), who played a world-weary cop on TV’s “Law & Order” and put Baby in the corner in “Dirty Dancing,” 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.
Earlier this month, Orbach’s agent, Robert Malcolm, announced that he had been diagnosed with the disease. But he told FOX News on Wednesday that Orbach had suffered from prostate cancer for a decade.
“He was diagnosed a long time ago. Ten years ago. He has been fighting an incredible fight for the last 10 years, and most people did not know, and he worked,” Malcolm said.
Malcolm added that Orbach was a “man of the people.”
“They took to him, and he took to them. He loved New York. He loved working, and people knew that and loved him back,” he said.
Orbach starred for 12 seasons in the original “Law & Order” (search) series, but left to head the spin-off “Law & Order: Trial by Jury” (search), set to debut next year.
The series’ producer, Dick Wolf, had high hopes for Orbach.
“We expect him to make a full and swift recovery, and while he is receiving treatment, we will work around his schedule,” Wolf told the New York Daily News when Orbach’s diagnosis was announced.
Orbach began playing Detective Lennie Briscoe in 1992, the original show’s third season, and became executive producer and director of the show.
He appeared in films including “Dirty Dancing” and “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” and on TV shows like “The Golden Girls,” “Hunter,” “Murder She Wrote,” “Who’s the Boss?” and “Empty Nest.”
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.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.