Steven Hill, trailblazing TV star, dies at 94.
Steven Hill, who originated imposing lead roles on two notable television series, Mission: Impossible in the 1960s and Law & Order in the 1990s, died on Tuesday in Manhattan. He was 94.
Born Solomon Krakowsky on Feb. 24, 1922, in Seattle, the son of a Russian Jewish furniture-store owner, Hill graduated from the University of Washington and at first moved to Chicago to work in radio.
He was 44 and a veteran stage and television actor in 1966 when he was cast as Daniel Briggs, the leader of an elite covert-operations unit, in the new series Mission: Impossible. But he left after the first season, paving the way for Peter Gravess six-season run as the shows lead.
Almost a quarter-century after that experience, Hill took on the role of the district attorney Adam Schiff on a new cops-and-lawyers series based in New York, Law & Order. He played the role, said to be modeled on the long-serving Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, from 1990 to 2000.
In a 1996 interview with The Washington Post, Dick Wolf, the creator of Law & Order, called Hill the Talmudic influence on the entire zeitgeist of the series.
Steven has more moral authority than anyone else on episodic TV, Wolf said.
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Hill in his best-known role, as D.A. Adam Schiff, in Law & Order[/center]
I watched L&O only sporadically once Fred "Reverse Mortgage" Thompson replaced him, and practically not at all when Sam Waterston left shortly afterward.
I bet he would have enjoyed hearing that. He always struck me as something of a mystic in his own way.
So the odds of this happening - well, let's just say nobody will be surprised. He really was great. I loved how his character name would come up, every so often, after he left the show.
I used to watch it religiously with my sister while we were in high school. Helped us bond a good bit more than we might have otherwise, I think.
Thanks to that, in part, I've always had a fond spot in my heart for that show - especially the '90s cast (which was arguably the best anyway, right?).
Michael Moriarty was "ok", but couldn't hold a candle to Sam. The character of Jack McCoy kind of reminds me of the real life prosecutor, Juan Martinez, who prosecuted Jodi Arias. Very intense, very determined, and very dramatic.
My favorite shows have always been the shows that are loosely based on real life events. A few minutes into the episode, a light goes on about which real case they are only slightly disguising.
It makes the experience a lot more rewarding, no doubt.
I remember a couple that, at the time, I thought might have been based on real-life cases. This was a long time ago; but one I remember being similar to the Bernhard Goetz subway shooting, while another was not unlike the Menéndez brothers case. I'm sure there were others.
Thanks for that, you criminologist you!
And one on the rape/murders committed by Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo, out of Canada
I guess they change just enough detail to avoid legal issues.
And, of course, it is always fun to spot the famous and soon to be famous guest stars.
In fact, that's the reason he left Mission Impossible after only one season in the 60's, they couldn't accommodate his religious schedule and he was committed enough to his religious beliefs to leave the lead role in the series because of it. Regardless of how you may personally feel about religion, the guy had integrity.
Was always glad he got another chance on TV with Law and Order.
Thanks you for that background, Peigan. It's so easy to forget that celebrities are real people first and foremost, you know?
I imagine that one of the most rewarding things of being true to one's art, is knowing that you'll live on in it once you pass on.
That definitely described Hill.
off the 'grid' pretty much. My friend near town had comcast, and just switched to verizon fios? so he's a victim of the cables, and when I visit, I won't have such access.
It would have to be online, since I dropped my cable subscription last year. But it might just be.
My late GF and I were L&O fanatics, and often quoted Adam Schiff's sarcastic comments.
One of our faves: After gathering everyone in his office for a mid-trial meeting, Schiff says: "Quick, somebody close the door before a case we can actually win walks in here by mistake."
No one did sarcasm like Steven Hill - and yet he always brought a sense of wisdom, thoughtfulness, and caring to the characters he portrayed. I totally get the "Talmudic influence" comment - it was evident throughout his Adam Schiff years.
We TV and movie viewers were fortunate to have him for as long as we did.
He brought some real-life career fatigue to the TV screen. No matter what episode I saw him in, he always looked rumpled and tired.
Long life, sir. Cross gently...
And everybody's favorite, Lennie Briscoe!
But yes, Steven Hill was a huge part of a great ensemble cast. It just worked.
And one for Jerry Orbach, too.
Love Law & Order in fact watching it right now. Love his character! Great actor, he will be missed!