Elaine Cancilla Orbach, Actor Jerry Orbach's Widow, Dies at 69
02 Apr 2009
Elaine Cancilla Orbach
Photo by Aubrey Reuben
Elaine Cancilla Orbach, the widow of actor Jerry Orbach and a former Broadway dancer, has died. She was 69.
According to friends, she got sick with pneumonia in recent days and died in a Manhattan hospital April 1. The two actors met while they were working on the original production of Kander and Ebb's Chicago, where Jerry played lawyer Billy Flynn and Elaine was a replacement for Velma Kelly. They later co-starred in a tour of Neil Simon's Chapter Two and married in 1979.
Prior to that, Elaine Cancilla had appeared in the Broadway productions of Fiorello! How to Succeed..., Here's Love, Flora, the Red Menace, Sweet Charity and Cry for Us All, working many times with choreographer Bob Fosse.
Jerry Orbach died in 2004, and at his memorial people spoke of his extraordinary devotion to his wife, to whom he would write a poem every day.
Elaine Cancilla Orbach and Jerry Orbach
photo by Aubrey Reuben
Since her husband's death, Elaine Orbach fought to have a portion of 53rd Street at Eighth Avenue renamed Jerry Orbach Way. The street was rechristened in 2007.
Holed up in a seedy motel on the edge of the Mojave Desert, two former lovers unpack the deep secrets and dark desires of their tangled relationship, passionately tearing each other apart. Led by director Daniel Aukin (Back Back Back at MTC, 4,000 Miles), Tony winner Nina Arianda (Venus in Fur at MTC, Born Yesterday) and Sam Rockwell (A Behanding in Spokane, The Way Way Back) bring an explosive intensity to Sam Shepard’s (Buried Child, True West) landmark myth of the new Wild West.