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Law & Order Actors Who Have Sadly Passed Away

One of the longest-running live-action scripted primetime series on American television — a feat surpassed only by the classic Western drama "Gunsmoke" and "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (SVU), the most successful of its many spin-off series — producer/creator Dick Wolf's Emmy-winning "Law & Order" aired for 20 seasons on NBC between 1990 and 2010. During that period, a virtual army of actors have handled both the enforcement and prosecutorial sides of its stories. 

Chief among them were Sam Waterston, who starred as District Attorney (DA) Jack McCoy from Seasons 5 through 20; S. Epatha Merkerson as Lieutenant Anita Van Buren (Seasons 5-20); Chris Noth, who played Detective Mike Logan from Seasons 1 to 5; Jerry Orbach as the inimitable Det. Lennie Briscoe (Seasons 3-14); and Jesse L. Martin as Det. Ed Green (Seasons 10-18). 

Dozens of other actors logged hours at the New York Police Department's 27th Homicide Precinct and New York County's District Attorney's Office over the course of the show's lengthy and popular network run. Many remain active in features and on television, while others have passed away in recent years. In honor of all the times their stories thrilled, chilled and otherwise captivated us, here's a list of the notable "Law & Order" cast members and recurring players who have passed away. 

Broadway vet Jerry Orbach was Det. Lenny Briscoe

Arguably one of the most popular characters in the "Law & Order” network run, cagey Detective Lennie Briscoe brought actor Jerry Orbach to national attention after a long and award-winning run on the Broadway stage and as a character actor in films and television. Orbach had been an original cast member in "The Fantasticks," the world's longest-running musical, and netted a Tony nomination as Billy Flynn in the original production of "Chicago"; his film roles included iconic work as Jennifer Grey's father in "Dirty Dancing" and the voice of Lumiere in Disney's animated "Beauty and the Beast."

Despite those laurels, Orbach's turn as Briscoe, which began with Season 3's "Point of View" in 1992, remained one of his most widely seen and well-regarded mainstream showcases. Orbach's streetwise performance netted an Emmy nomination and nine Screen Actors Guild nods for ensemble. 

He was diagnosed with prostate cancer two years into his stint on the show, but remained in treatment for the next decade until retiring from the series in Season 14 in 2004, which made him one of the longest-running actors in its two-decade history. After reprising Briscoe for two episodes of the short-lived "Law & Order" spin-off "Trial By Jury," Orbach died at the age of 69 on December 28, 2004. Briscoe was named 15th in a 2007 TV Guide list of the 25 greatest TV detectives.

Reluctant TV star Steven Hill played DA Adam Schiff

An original "Law & Order" cast member, Steven Hill played the steely but philosophical New York Count District Attorney Adam Schiff from its debut episode, "Prescription for Death," in 1990 (replacing Roy Thinnes, who played DA Alfred Wentworth in the pilot, "Everybody's Favorite Bagman") until season 10's "Vaya Con Dios" a decade later.

The show wasn't Hill's first bout with TV stardom: active in live production during the "Golden Age of Television" in the 1950s, he played Dan Briggs, leader of the Impossible Missions Force, on the first season of the original TV version of "Mission: Impossible" from 1966 to 1967. He departed the series for unspecified reasons — "Variety" noted that Hill's religion (Orthodox Judaism) reportedly put him in conflict with shooting schedules due to observation of the Sabbath on Friday evenings — and remained off-screen for much of the 1970s. Appearances in '80s features like "Raw Deal" preceded his return to the spotlight on "L&O."

Hill retired from both the series and acting in 2000 with two Emmy nominations and seven Screen Actors Guild nods to his name. He died at the age of 94 on August 23, 2016 in Monsey, New York.

Fred Dalton Thompson: from Senator to DA Arthur Branch

Prior to joining the cast of "Law & Order" as District Attorney Arthur Branch on Season 13's "American Jihad," Fred Dalton Thompson had one of the most unique careers of any working actor in Hollywood. 

A former U.S. attorney and minority counsel for the Senate Watergate Committee in the 1970s, Thompson was a two-term Tennessee senator from 1994 to 2003, and even ran for president in 2007. His acting career began in 1985 when director Roger Donaldson asked him to play himself in the film "Marie," about a corruption case against Tennessee's governor that Thompson had assisted. He parlayed the performance into steady work as authority figures in films like "The Hunt for Red October," "Cape Fear," "Sinister and perhaps most memorably, "Die Hard 2."

Thompson joined "Law and Order" during his final term as a senator, and played Branch for five seasons before departing in 2007 to oversee his presidential bid. He also played Branch on four other "Law and Order" series, including 11 episodes of "SVU" and 13 episodes of "Trial By Jury," for which he served as a series regular while also starring on "Law & Order." Diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2004, Thompson died after a recurrence of the disease at the age of 73 on November 1, 2015.

Dennis Farina was a cop in real life and on TV

Character actor Dennis Farina lent authentic law enforcement flavor to his two-year run as the larger-than-life Detective Joe Fontana on "Law and Order." 

Like his character, Farina had been a former member of the Chicago Police Department and served as a consultant to writer-director Michael Mann, who cast him as the lead in his cult TV series "Crime Story" before segueing into acting roles in films like "Midnight Run," "Saving Private Ryan," and "Get Shorty." Farina stepped into big shoes when he joined the series in Season 15's "Paradigm": Jerry Orbach had just left the drama, which needed a lead detective to partner with detectives Ed Green (Jesse L. Martin) and Nick Falco (Michael Imperioli).

Farina left the series at the end of Season 16 to pursue other projects. These included stints as host of "Unsolved Mysteries" and a recurring role on "New Girl," as well as features like "What Happens in Vegas." Farina died from a pulmonary embolism at the age of 69 in Scottsdale, Arizona on July 22, 2013.

Lynn Cohen brought the order as Judge Mizener

Best known to television audiences as Magda, Miranda's stern housekeeper/nanny on "Sex and the City," Lynn Cohen was a versatile character actor whose career included numerous Broadway productions and appearances in Steven Spielberg's "Munich" (as Golda Meir) and as Mags Flanagan, the oldest Hunger Games competitor, in "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire."

Between these roles, Cohen enjoyed a recurring role on "Law and Order" as Manhattan Judge Elizabeth Mizener. The character made her debut on the series in Season 4's "Profile," and returned 11 more times, most notably as the presiding judge in Executive ADA McCoy's attempt to bring down the people who killed ADA Alexandra Borgia (Annie Parisse) in Season 16's "Invaders."

In addition to her "Law and Order" stints, Cohen also logged two episodes apiece on both "SVU" and "Criminal Intent." She continued working in features and on television until February 14, 2020, when she died in New York City at the age of 86.

Doris Belack, the Law & Order judge to fear

Prosecutors on "Law & Order" probably trembled a bit upon discovering that Trial and Arraignment Judge Margaret Barry was presiding over their case. 

Barry, a New York Supreme Court judge in 10 episodes, as well as two cases on "SVU," all between 1990 and 2001, demanded rock-solid evidence from the prosecution. In Season 11's "School Daze," she threw a wrench into McCoy's case against an alleged school shooter by granting the defense — Carey Lowell's Jamie Ross — the right to suppress key evidence, including an alleged murder weapon.

Judge Barry was played by Doris Belack, a respected actress on the New York stage and television, and a memorable comic presence in feature films like "Tootsie" and "What About Bob?" and even video games like "Grand Theft Auto IV." The latter proved to be the final acting credit in her long career: Belack died of natural causes at the age of 85 in New York City on October, 4, 2011.

James Rebhorn played lawyers, villains, and victims on Law & Order

In his seven guest appearances on "Law and Order", character actor James Rebhorn appeared on both sides of the witness stand, playing a diabolical criminal, a dogged lawyer, and even the intended victim of a crime. 

Rebhorn's extensive CV included supporting roles in "Independence Day" and "My Cousin Vinny," as well as TV series like "Seinfeld," for which he played the lawyer that sent Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer to jail in the series finale. He debuted on the series in Season 2's "Vengeance" as a vicious serial killer who returned to his murder spree after a five-year prison sentence. He then made his first of five guest shots as Defense Attorney Charles Garnett in Season 5's "Progeny."

After logging his final turn as Garnett in Season 12's "Dazzled," Reborn returned in a small but critical role as a doctor targeted for his role in a lethal injection in Season 18's "Executioner." Following that 2008 performance, Reborn returned to a busy schedule of TV and film appearances, including "30 Rock" and a recurring role on "Homeland," before logging his final screen role in the 2013 TV movie "Ordained." Diagnosed with melanoma in 1992, Rebhorn died from the disease at the age of 65 on March 14, 2014.

Mark Blum tangled with McCoy and Stone

Film, TV, and stage actor Mark Blum appeared as three different characters on four episodes of "Law & Order." 

The most notable of these was as Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney Frank Lazar, who butted heads with Michael Moriarty's Benjamin Stone in Season 3's "Jurisdiction," and Jack McCoy in Season 9's "Agony." Lazar left the DA's office after the dust-up with Stone, and worked for the litigation department of a Wall Street firm when he tangled with McCoy over serial killer Matt Bergstrom in "Agony."

Blum, best known to moviegoers as Rosanna Arquette's duplicitous husband in "Desperately Seeking Susan," logged numerous appearances in features and on television, building an award-winning career on the New York stage. He won an Obie Award in 1989 for the Off Broadway drama "Gus and Al," and appeared opposite several fellow "Law & Order" alum, including Philip Bosco, Dan Hedaya, and James Rebhorn, in a 2004 Broadway production of "Twelve Angry Men."

Married to actress Janet Zarish — herself a three-time "Law & Order" guest star — Blum died of complications from the coronavirus at the age of 69 on March 25, 2020.

George Grizzard's Arthur Gold was a formidable foe

A Tony Award-winning veteran of the Broadway stage and a prolific television guest star with two Emmy nominations and one win, actor George Grizzard brought his exceptional versatility to five guest appearances on "Law & Order" as the sly defense attorney Arthur Gold. 

A longtime rival of Benjamin Stone, Gold's court strategy was to wear down prosecutors and judges alike by filing a flurry of motions during the case. He employed this attack throughout his five appearances, which began with Season 2's "Severance," and did his best to vex both Stone and Jack McCoy. Gold even returned from retirement in Season 7's "Matrimony" to reprise his legal shenanigans.

Grizzard's final turn as Gold came with Season 11's "Dissonance" in 2000. He continued to work steadily on stage and in features like Clint Eastwood's "Flags of Our Fathers" until 2006. He died the following year at the age of 79 from complications of lung cancer on October 2, 2007.

Ron McLarty was an actor and author

A familiar face to film and TV audiences for more than three decades, actor Ron McLarty made five appearances on "Law & Order," four of which were as Manhattan Judge William Wright, a thorn in Jack McCoy's side on several high-profile cases. 

Wright overturned a rape conviction of teenagers who had assaulted a mentally disabled girl in Season 8's "Damaged" and went head to head with DA Nora Lewin (Dianne Wiest) over his beef with McCoy in Season 11's "Dissonance." In addition to his "Law & Order" appearances, McLarty played Wright on an episode of "Trial By Jury."

Though best known for his acting career, which included a series regular role on the original TV adaptation of "Spenser: For Hire" and turns in "The Postman" and "St. Vincent," McLarty was an author and playwright, and made headlines in 2001 after an audiobook recording of his unpublished novel, "The Memory of Running," won praise from Stephen King. The publicity spurred Penguin Books to buy the rights to the book for $2 million in 2004.

McLarty, who retired from acting after being diagnosed with dementia in 2014, died at the age of 72 on February 8, 2020.

Ron Silver played many lawyers in film and on TV

Two-time Emmy nominee and Tony Award-winning actor Ron Silver played more than his share of legal eagles, including real-life lawyers Alan Dershowitz in the Oscar-winning thriller "Reversal of Fortune" and Robert Shapiro in the TV-movie "American Tragedy," over the course of his three decade career. 

Between these efforts – and in addition to numerous film and television roles, ranging from "Blue Steel" and "Ali" to "Timecop" and "Find Me Guilty" (which added a judge to his list of legal roles) — Silver played tenacious defense attorney Bernie Adler in two episodes of "Law & Order": Season 15's "Paradigm" and Season 17's "Talking Points."

He later reprised Adler for "Eros in the Upper Eighties," an episode of "Trial By Jury," which did not air on NBC prior to its cancellation in 2006 (it has subsequently aired in syndication and in international markets). Silver, a political activist who hosted a public affairs program on satellite radio in 2008, died from esophageal cancer at his home in Manhattan, New York, on March 15, 2009.

Philip Bosco: judge, lawyer, and guest star

American Theater Hall of Fame member Philip Bosco was a six-time Tony Award nominee (and winner in 1989 for "Lend Me a Tenor") and a veteran character actor in films and on television, most notably in "My Best Friend's Wedding" and the indie "The Savages" with Philip Seymour Hoffman

Like many working New York actors, he logged numerous appearances on the "Law & Order" franchise, including five episodes on the flagship series and six guest shots on "Special Victims Unit."

He played defense attorney Gordon Schell on three episodes of "Law & Order," beginning with Season 1's "Happily Ever After" before a one-shot as Dobbs, an attorney who attempted to claim that his mob boss client was mentally incompetent, in Season 8's "Faccia a Faccia." Bosco returned the following season for another one-off turn on "Shield" before moving to "SVU" to play the poker-loving Judge Joseph Terhune on six episodes of that series. His last screen role came with the 2009 indie "When the Evening Comes"; Bosco died as a result of complications from dementia at the age of 88 on December 3, 2018.

Larry Sherman: judge of all trades

One of the most frequently employed actors who played trial judges on "Law & Order" actually wore many hats over the course of his long career, including TV writer, journalist, and publicist. 

Larry Sherman, who played Judge Colin Fraser on 13 episodes between Seasons 5 and 15, began appearing on the Broadway stage and screen in the 1940s, and logged uncredited roles in Alfred Hitchcock's "North by Northwest," among other films. He then segued into sports journalism in the 1960s and writing for game shows in the 1970s before serving as head of public relations for the New Jersey Generals, a United States Football League team owned at one point by future President Donald Trump.

Sherman returned to acting in the 1990s, often serving as a background player in projects like "Reversal of Fortune," starring fellow "Law & Order" alum Ron Silver. In 1994, he began his run as Judge Fraser, which concluded with Season 15's "Publish and Perish" in 2005. After logging his final film appearance in the Robert De Niro drama "The Comedian" — in which he uttered a single word: "Poopie" – Sherman died the following year from natural causes at the age of 94. Like the other aforementioned actors above, his episodes are well worth tracking down the next time you're in need of a dependable drama fix.

Paul Sorvino played a sympathetic sergeant

When George Dzundza decided to stop playing Sergeant Max Greevey in Season 1 of "Law & Order," the producers tapped another formidable character actor to partner with Detective Mike Logan (Chris Noth). His replacement was Tony-nominated character actor Paul Sorvino, who played Sergeant Phil Cerreta in Seasons 2 and 3. Cereta offered an appealing counterpoint to Greevey: he was tough on criminals, but also compassionate with victims, whereas Greevey could be opinionated and even dismissive of lifestyles and perspectives that differed from his. Sorvino departed "Law & Order" at the end of Season 3 when a drug dealer shot Cerreta.

Sorvino told the Orlando Sentinel that the long production hours were one of the primary reasons for his departure, as well as a desire to preserve his vocal cords for opera, which he pursued concurrently with his long acting career in features and on television. Sorvino, who was perhaps best known as mob chief Paulie Cicero in "Goodfellas" and as Dr. Henry Kissinger in Oliver Stone's "Nixon," as well as his real-life role as the father of Oscar winner Mira Sorvino, died at the age of 83 in Jacksonville, Florida on July 25, 2022.

Ned Eisenberg played a variety of parts on Law & Order

Character actor Ned Eisenberg was a go-to for unflappable defense attorneys on nearly all of the series within the "Law & Order" universe. He played defense attorney James Granick in seven episodes of the flagship series between Seasons 7 and 20 while also guest-starring as three different lawyers, including the prickly Roger Kessler, on 24 episodes of "SVU" between Seasons 1 and 20. Between these assignments, Eisenberg also appeared in two episodes of "Criminal Intent," playing characters outside the legal profession (he was the son of murder suspect Linda Lavin in Season 2's "Shandeh").

The Bronx-born Eisenberg was a familiar face in features and on television from the early 1980s to 2022, playing savvy, streetwise characters in films like Clint Eastwood's "Million Dollar Baby" and "Flags of Our Fathers" and on series like "30 Rock," "The Night Of," "The Blacklist," "Mare of Easttown," and "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel." A founding member of the esteemed New York acting ensemble the Naked Angels Theater Company, he also appeared on Broadway in "The Green Bird" and "Awake and Sing!" in the 2000s. The 65-year-old Eisenberg died of cholangiocarcinoma, a cancer of the bile duct, at his home in Queens, New York, on February 27, 2022

Joan Copeland laid down the law

In eight episodes between Seasons 2 and 12 of "Law & Order," lawyers from the Manhattan district attorney's office appeared before Judge Rebecca Stein, who weighed in on cases involving racial issues (Season 7's "Good Girl"), attacks on the homeless (Season 4's "Volunteers"), and Nazi sympathizers (Season 3's "Night and Fog"). Judge Stein was played in all eight episodes by New York stage and television actress Joan Copeland, who was an early member of the Actors Studio and the sister of playwright Arthur Miller.

Copeland — who was also briefly the sister-in-law of Marilyn Monroe during her marriage to Miller from 1956 to 1961 — made her Broadway debut in 1945 and returned to the stage throughout her long career, including a 2001 run in "45 Seconds From Broadway." She was perhaps best known as a cast member of numerous daytime soap operas, including "Search for Tomorrow," "One Life to Life," and "As the World Turns." Copeland also enjoyed character turns in several features, including the Paddy Chayefsky-penned "The Goddess" in 1958 and 2009's "The Private Lives of Pippa Lee," which was written and directed by her niece and Arthur Miller's daughter, Rebecca Miller.

A Drama Desk Winner in 1981 for "The American Clock," Copeland died of natural causes at the age of 99 at her home in New York City on January 4, 2022.

David Rosenbaum appeared on both the stage and screen

David Rosenbaum was also among the sizable pool of character actors called upon to serve as a judge in episodes of the "Law & Order" franchise. Rosenbaum played arraignment judge Alan Berman in 14 episodes of "L&O" between Seasons 2 and 14; the role of Judge Berman was the most substantial of his television credits, which also included episodes of "The Equalizer."

Rosenbaum, who also appeared in the features "The Imagemaker" and "A Stranger Among Us," was more frequently seen on stage, including an Off-Broadway production of "Family Business," which was filmed for the PBS series "American Playhouse" in 1983. Rosenbaum was also the founder and artistic director of Kingston Rep, a theater company based in Ulster County, New York, in 2001.

Rosenbaum, who studied acting at the HB Studio, made his final screen appearance as Judge Berman in a Season 14 episode of "Law & Order" in 2004. He died at the age of 80 on October 29, 2016.

Merwin Goldsmith was a Broadway veteran

For the majority of 15 seasons on "Law & Order," actor Merwin Goldsmith played arraignment judge Ian Feist. His long run in the role came after an appearance in Season 1's "Mushrooms" as Trial Judge Stanley Gollub, who imposed a sizable bail on a murder suspect played by actor James McDaniel. Goldsmith made his final appearances as Judge Feist in two episodes of Season 15 in 2005.

Goldsmith, who studied acting at London's Old Vic and the Liverpool Playhouse, enjoyed a wide variety of roles in films and on stage and television over the course of his five-decade career. He made his feature film debut in footage shot by a pre-fame Francis Ford Coppola for the 1962 German sex comedy "The Bellboy and the Playgirls" and followed it with a supporting role opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in "Hercules in New York."

By that point, Goldsmith had already made his Broadway debut in the 1970s play "Minnie's Boys," about the Marx Brothers, and would return 10 more times between 1973 and 1993. He also divided his time equally over the next few decades between features and episodic TV. His film credits include "Making Mr. Right," "Quiz Show," and "The Hurricane," which cast him as the real-life judge who denied boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter a new trial. TV appearances included guest roles in the 1983 miniseries "Kennedy," "The Good Wife," and several daytime soaps. Goldsmith died of undisclosed causes at the age of 81 on January 21, 2019.

Richard Hirschfeld enjoyed smaller roles

From a cast perspective, every episode of "Law & Order" features the series regulars, guest players — who typically handle the victims and villains of each episode — and an array of supporting and bit actors who fill out minor roles. Though their characters don't earn a lot of screen time, they're still important to the show because they help to flesh out and lend authenticity to the storyline. Actor Richard Hirschfeld took on two such roles for the "L&O" franchise: he played Assistant Medical Examiner Brody in 12 episodes of "Law & Order" and Detective Riche in three episodes of "Criminal Intent."

A native of Teaneck, New Jersey, Hirschfeld, who was often billed as Richard E. Hirschfeld, played minor roles in several features, including the Jennifer Lopez film "Maid in Manhattan," before making his first "L&O" appearance in 2002. Between his guest turns, Hirschfeld also acted in several short films and the 2016 indie "Little Boxes," which proved to be his final screen credit. He died of undisclosed causes on April 11, 2017, in New York.

David Little had several roles in Law & Order

Film and television actor David Little played no fewer than seven different characters on "Law & Order" and "Criminal Intent." The majority of his appearances on the franchise were as judges and lawyers: the tough but fair Judge Michael Schneider on five episodes of "L&O" in Seasons 14 through 16, defense attorneys Mitch Weiss and Jack Haviland in three "L&O" episodes, and minor character roles on three other "L&O" episodes and a Season 7 episode of "Criminal Intent."

Biographical details on Little are limited, but according to his IMDb profile, he was born in North Carolina and made his screen debut in an obscure 1973 feature called "Running Wild." He worked sporadically in the 1980s, landing guest roles on daytime soaps, but appeared to hit his career stride in the '90s and early 2000s with his "L&O" guest turns and appearances on "The Sopranos" and "Ed." Little continued to work in high-profile TV projects for the next decade, including guest shots on "House of Cards," "The Blacklist," and "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel." His final film credit was as a bingo caller in 2018's "Ocean's Eight." He died of undisclosed causes at the age of 83 on January 2, 2021.

Robert Hogan enjoyed a long career

A familiar face, if not always a name, to audiences from the mid-1960s to 2018, Robert Hogan was a dependable presence in dozens of television series, including the original "Twilight Zone," "Batman," "M*A*S*H," "The Wire," and three series in the "Law & Order" franchise. He played, among other characters, a cop whose son was a murder suspect in the "L&O" Season 4 episode "Kids," a white supremacist on "Reparations" from Season 12 of "SVU," and an array of judges and federal agents, totaling 12 appearances.

In addition to his numerous guest appearances, Hogan also enjoyed recurring roles on several series, including "Peyton Place," "Days of Our Lives," "Alice," and "Murder, She Wrote." He worked less frequently in feature films, though he had an uncredited role in 1973's "Westworld" and supporting turns in "Species II" and "Sweet Land." Hogan, who began his career in off-Broadway theater, returned to the stage in the 1990s and appeared in the original Broadway run of "A Few Good Men," among many other productions. A diagnosis of vascular Alzheimer's disease slowed his career in 2013, but he continued to make occasional appearances on TV until 2018. His prolific TV work was paid tribute in Quentin Tarantino's "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" when Rick Dalton paid him a compliment while watching his appearance on an episode of "The F.B.I."

Hogan died of complications from pneumonia at the age of 87 in his home in Maine on May 27, 2021.

Bruce MacVittie played both sides of the law

Like Robert Hogan, actor Bruce MacVittie was a near-constant presence on stage and screen from the early 1980s to 2022. The Rhode Island native, whom the New York Times described as "ubiquitous," appeared in dozens of films and television series, including a total of 11 appearances on "Law & Order," "Special Victims Unit," and "Criminal Intent." MacVittie, who was known for playing tough, street-savvy types, played characters on both sides of the moral fence in his "L&O" guest roles; the most notable of these was a family court judge who became intimately involved with the mother of a custody case he presided over in the Season 7 "CI" episode "Courtship."

MacVittie enjoyed guest roles on series ranging from "Sex and the City" and "Homicide: Life on the Street" to "Miami Vice," and enjoyed a five-episode arc on "The Sopranos" as a juror browbeaten into acquitting Uncle Junior. His feature film work included turns in "Born on the Fourth of July" and "The Doors" for Oliver Stone," as well as "Hannibal" and "Million Dollar Baby." Along with fellow "L&O" vet Ned Eisenberg, he was a co-founder of the Naked Angels theater troupe, and earned considerable respect among his peers for co-starring with Al Pacino in a 1983 revival of "American Buffalo."

MacVittie, who trained as a palliative nurse to care for ailing friends in 2013, died in New York City at the age of 65 on May 7, 2022.

Mike Hodge was a Law & Order staple

Judges and police detectives were actor Mike Hodge's specialty on three "Law & Order" series. The character actor and president of the New York wing of the SAG-AFTRA union played Judge Delano Burns in three episodes of "Law & Order" as well as two other characters, plus three law enforcement officials on "SVU" and an assistant prison warden on "CI." Hodge worked steadily in television from the 1980s to the new millennium, landing guest roles on "NYPD Blue," "Third Watch," "Blue Bloods" and other primetime programs.

Hodge began his acting career in features in the early '80s and worked his way up to supporting roles in films like Spike Lee's "Malcolm X," Ron Howard's "Ransom," and, later, "Cadillac Records and "Brawl in Cell Block 99." He won his first SAG national board set in 2001 and assumed the head of its New York division in 2010 while also holding membership on the AFL-CIO executive council. In 2017, Hodge was elected president of SAG-AFTRA's New York local chapter for a second time; he died a month later at the age of 70 on September 9, 2017.

Dick Latessa was a Broadway talent

Though a Tony-winning stage actor and a Broadway song-and-dance man at heart, actor Dick Latessa also played his share of streetwise authority figures in films and on television. He was a priest on "The Sopranos" and "The Black Donnellys," a judge on "The Good Wife," and various cops, military men, coaches, and even Sherlock Holmes (on an episode of "Captain Kangaroo") on series ranging from the original "Mission: Impossible" to "Ed." Latessa also turned up in four episodes of "Law & Order" and a single episode of "SVU," for which he again played figures with power and pull: a judge on "SVU," and a bishop, defense attorney, and admiral on "Law & Order."

Latessa was a veteran of numerous stage musicals, including 18 Broadway shows like "Brighton Beach Memories" and "I Oughta Be in Pictures." His biggest success on the Great White Way was in the Broadway run of "Hairspray," for which he played Wilbur Turnblad opposite Harvey Fierstein as his wife, Edna. Latessa captured the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical, as well as the Drama Desk and Outer Circle Critic Awards, for his work in the show in 2003.

Latessa continued to work on TV and the stage into his eighth decade, and logged his last small-screen appearance in a 2015 episode of the Bravo comedy series "Odd Mom Out." He died of heart failure the following year on December 19, 2016, at the age of 87.

John McMartin was a familiar face

From the late 1950s to the early 2000s, it seemed as if actor John McMartin was everywhere. He was also a familiar face to both TV viewers and moviegoers alike thanks to films like "Sweet Charity," "All the President's Men," and "Kinsey," and for guest appearances on "The Bob Newhart Show," "Cheers," and "Frasier." McMartin also guested on five episodes of "Law & Order," including two appearances as defense attorney Larry Webber in Seasons 2 and 4.

A veteran stage performer, McMartin also collaborated with composer Steven Sondheim on numerous occasions, including the Broadway run of "Sweet Charity" in 1966 and a revival of"Into the Woods" in 2002, both of which netted him two of his five Tony nominations. A 2009 inductee into the American Theater Hall of Fame, McMartin made his last screen appearance in a 2015 episode of "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" before dying of cancer the following year on July 6, 2016. He was 86.

Richard Bright was known for playing menacing mobsters

Raspy-voiced and imposingly built, Richard Bright was made for dangerous characters. He rose to fame playing one in the 1970s: Al Neri, Michael Corleone's fearsome bodyguard and enforcer, who carried out the murder of Fredo Corleone (among many other characters) in "The Godfather Part II." Bright appeared briefly in the role in the first "Godfather" film and reprised it in "The Godfather Part III." He played equally formidable types in Sergio Leone's "Once Upon a Time in America," "Marathon Man," and several collaborations with director Sam Peckinpah, including "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid."

Bright began acting on television in the late 1950s and enjoyed guest shots on "Cagney and Lacey," "The Equalizer," "Oz," and "The Sopranos," which cast him as an aging but still-terrifying hitman. His work on four episodes of "Law & Order" and a single turn apiece on "SVU" and "Criminal Intent" afforded him a chance to play to his strengths and to stretch out as a character as well. In the "CI" Season 2 episode "Malignant," he played an elderly man who attempted to bring an end to his cancer-stricken wife's suffering, while on the Season 7 "SVU" episode "Name," he was a monstrous child kidnapper and serial killer. The 65-year-old Bright was killed when he was struck by a bus in New York City on February 19, 2006.

Richard Belzer played Munch for over 20 years

Comedian Richard Belzer found his defining role in John Munch, a sardonic Baltimore police detective, on the celebrated crime drama "Homicide: Life on the Street." When the series, which was always a ratings runner-up, finally departed NBC after seven seasons, Belzer took Munch to New York for a more than 15-year run on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." During his tenure on the show, he also played Munch (who was eventually promoted to sergeant on "SVU") on numerous other episodic series, including other shows in the "L&O" universe like "Trial by Jury," as well as in guest shots on "The Wire," "Arrested Development," "30 Rock," "The X-Files," and even an episode of "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" By the time of his final screen appearance in the 2017 documentary "Gilbert" (about comedian Gilbert Gottfried), Belzer had played Munch for 22 consecutive seasons on "Homicide" and "L&O" and guested as the character on 10 different series.

Prior to playing Munch, Belzer was an acerbic comic on the New York club circuit in the 1970s, as well as a warm-up comic and occasional performer on the early years of "Saturday Night Live." He dallied with screen roles in the 1980s, appearing — often as a comic — in "Fame," "Night Shift" and "Scarface" and on series like "Miami Vice."  While appearing on "SVU," he also took supporting roles in films by Spike Lee ("Get on the Bus"), among other projects. Belzer left "SVU" in 2016 and appeared in occasional film and TV projects while also developing a career as an author specializing in conspiracy theories; he died of circulatory and respiratory issues at his home in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, France on February 19, 2023, at the age of 78.