When Jerry Orbach died, he left behind a $10 million estate, of which part is for his children, with his wife, Elaine Cancilla, holding in trust. However, the actor's look-alike son, Chris, believes his stepmother manipulated Jerry into cutting the kids out of his will.
Before Jerry Orbach became a household name, he was a Bronx-born man with big dreams. He started his professional career in the off-Broadway musical "The Fantasticks" and later became a Broadway star, leading the stage in the productions "Chicago," "Carnival," and "42nd Street."
In 1958, he tied the knot with fellow actress Marta Curro and had two sons, Chris and Tony. Sadly, their marriage ended in 1975, while he starred in "Chicago," the play that brought him and his second wife, Elaine Cancilla-Orbach, together. In 1979, The couple exchanged their "I do's."
Jerry Orbach and his son, Chris, in a throwback photo. | Source: facebook.com/chris.orbach.54
FOLLOWING IN JERRY'S FOOTSTEPS
Chris, born on November 11, 1968, inherited his father's creativity and knack for acting. Born and raised in New York City, Chris enhanced his talents at the High School For Performing Arts, Webber-Douglas Academy in London, and SUNY Purchase.
He graduated from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in Film and Television production. Using his skills, Chris became an actor, writer, and television and radio voiceover artist known for his work in the films "Permanent Rehab," "Blue Moon," "Swing City," and "Clear Blue Tuesday."
He is also known for the television shows "Stakeout," "Law & Order," and "Law & Order: SVU," where he played the nephew of his father for a few episodes. Off-screen, Chris also performed in several stage productions, including the award-winning plays "Lost in Staten Island" and "Uber Mom."
Jerry Orbach during the NBC upfront at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, May 14, 2001. | Source: Getty Images
A MULTI-TALENTED MAN
Apart from his acting talent, Chris is also a musical genius who taught himself how to play the piano as a child. At 21, he began playing the guitar and released two albums with his original songs, "Safely Through The Night" and "Secession."
Meanwhile, Jerry's first wife and Chris' mother, Curro, defended her son while talking badly about Elaine.
His musical talents also saw a live audience as he performed in solo shows, acoustic duos, and full bands. When it comes to entertaining, Chris is undoubtedly a multi-talented performer.
BEHIND THE SCENES
When the cameras stop rolling, Chris puts on the most important role he could ever have, a father to his two kids, Aaron and Emilia, whom he shares with his wife, Nicole Vallance.
The proud dad often shares photos with his children on Instagram, showing fans his strong resemblance to the late "Dirty Dancing" star. However, his Instagram account has since been taken down or switched to a private setting.
Nevertheless, he has proven to be a family man several times. Unfortunately, his father did not live to see him make many memories with his children. Jerry passed away in 2004 after a battle with prostate cancer, leaving behind a legacy on television history. Sadly, he also left a big dispute within his family.
CHRIS VS HIS STEPMOTHER
Following the actor's death, Chris and Elaine went head to head in a dispute about Jerry's estate. According to Chris, his stepmother manipulated his father into cutting the kids out of his $10 million estate and even "shucked out" his eyes at death.
In a vicious letter obtained by The Post, Chris called Elaine "a double-dealing, lying, scheming, miserable fool," who "painted [herself] as the beginning and the end of the Jerry Orbach Legacy" and can now "boast about 'never flying coach,' or ‘never riding the subway.'”
Jerry's estate was left in his widow's trust, but his children won't receive their share until Elaine's death. "In the meantime, she can take the interest from the trust and raid the principal if she needs the money," Chris said. "We were told, basically, that it would be nice if there's something for you, but don't count on it."
CANCILLA'S SIDE OF THE STORY
According to Elaine, her marriage to Jerry began with a few years of financial struggle. "We used my savings to pay his alimony and child support," she said. But when he was cast in "Law & Order," everything changed.
Jerry received six figures per episode for bringing the character Detective Lennie Briscoe to life for 12 years. Soon, they were able to save up for their retirement.
Elaine further revealed that she was shocked to receive such hurtful words from the stepson she thought she had a good relationship with. "Everything he says is untrue," she added.
DONATING JERRY'S EYES
Chris also did not approve of Elaine donating his father's eyes to the Eye Bank Association of America as he passed. He said:
"Having to leave my father's deathbed so that some guy with an icebox could shuck his eyes out while they were fresh still makes me sick and furious to this day."
However, Elaine claimed that Jerry was always proud of his clear eyesight at 69 and said that he wanted to give back through his eyes. "Chris knew nothing of this," Elaine said. "He knew nothing of what his father and I discussed for 25 years."
Jerry Orbach during the Broadway Musical "Hall of Fame" Launch Party at Letizia Restaurant in New York City, New York, United States | Source: Getty Images
MARTA CURRO'S COMMENT
Meanwhile, Jerry's first wife and Chris' mother, Curro, defended her son while talking badly about Elaine. According to the actress, Jerry's widow looks funny and has a strange taste in fashion because of her polyester pantsuits.
"There’s nothing funnier to me than stupid people being evil," she said. "Because they put a tack on your chair and expect it to kill you." It is unfortunate that Jerry's death carved the path for his family's destruction, but hopefully, after over the decade that has passed, things have been better.