Monday, April 30, 2007

Jerry Orbach (1935-2004)

If you happen to catch this week's 20th anniversary screenings of Dirty Dancing, keep in mind the fact that one of the cast members - legendary stage, screen and Emmy-nomimated TV actor Jerry Orbach - spent several years of his childhood in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania and Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Jerome Bernard Orbach was born in the Bronx in New York City on October 20, 1935. According to a Scranton Times article from 2003, Orbach's family moved frequently throughout his childhood, even settling for a time in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, where his grandfather worked as a coalminer, when he was six years old. The Orbach family also lived in Scranton, PA for a year and a half in the Hills section; furthermore, according to the Internet Movie Database, Orbach also lived for a time in Nanticoke, PA. Orbach's family eventually settled in Waukegan, Illinois.

Orbach studied drama at both University of Illinois and Northwestern University; upon moving back to New York, he studied with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio.

Orbach's first major Broadway role was as a replacement for the character Smith in the original 1955 Broadway production of The Threepenny Opera (his co-star Bea Arthur would later reunite with Orbach in an episode of The Golden Girls). Orbach's extensive stage career includes starring in the original 1960 off-Broadway cast of The Fantasticks, his Tony Award-winning performance in the 1968 musical Promises, Promises and creating the role of lawyer Billy Flynn in the original 1975 Broadway production of Chicago. He also starred as Julian Marsh in the original 1980 Broadway production of 42nd Street.

Orbach has had a successful film career since the 1950s and has starred as Martin Landau's shady brother Jack in Woody Allen's Crimes & Misdemeanors (whose production designer was Wilkes-Barre native Santo Loquasto), tough corrupt cop Gus Levy in 1981's Prince of the City, the voice of candlestick Lumiere in Disney's Oscar-nominated Beauty and the Beast, and, of course, as Baby's father in the 1987 classic Dirty Dancing.

Orbach's most popular TV work is his role as Detective Lennie Briscoe on Homicide: Life on the Streets; the character was later spun off in the popular television drama Law and Order.

Sadly, Jerry Orbach passed away on December 28th, 2004 in Manhattan after a courageous battle with prostate cancer.

The 20th Anniversary edition of Dirty Dancing starring Jerry Orbach will be showing Tuesday, May 1st and Wednesday, May 2nd, at Cinemark in Moosic.

Several films and television series starring Jerry Orbach - including several seasons of Law and Order, the films Crimes and Misdemeanors, Disney's Beauty and the Beast, Dirty Dancing, the special Broadway's Lost Treasures II (featuring Orbach as Billy Flynn in Chicago) and CDs including the original soundtrack for Broadway's 42nd Street - are available to borrow on DVD from the Lackawanna County Library System. Furthermore, the Reference Department's collection includes a Local History Vertical File on the actor.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Naked by David Sedaris (1997)

Humorist David Sedaris, author of such bestselling essay collections as Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim and Holidays on Ice, as well as a regular guest on The Late Show With David Letterman, included a somewhat unique reference to the city of Scranton in his 1997 collection Naked. Naked is a collection of nonfiction essays in which Sedaris write about his unusual life experiences.

The title essay in the book details Sedaris's weeklong trip to a nudist camp. Upon his arrival, the camp residents stare accusingly at Sedaris (a New York resident) for supposedly bringing the cold front from "the lakes" with him.

"'I don't know anything about any lakes.' There was a rising panic in my voice. 'It was hot and sunny when I left New York this morning, really, it was. It turned cold around Scranton, but I didn't even get off the bus. It's the truth, you can ask the driver.' It was ridiculous to stand before a group of strangers denying my responsibility for the weather, but surrounded by their stern accusatory faces, the charges seemed frighteningly plausible."

Naked by David Sedaris is available to borrow from the Lackawanna County Library System; to place a hold on the book, click here.

Monday, April 16, 2007

NASCAR Driver (and Berwick Native) Jimmy Spencer to Speak in Scranton May 21st

Berwick native and former NASCAR champion Jimmy Spencer will be speaking in Scranton on Monday, May 21st at 7 PM at the Scranton Cultural Center in Scranton, PA.

Tickets are FREE with your Lackawanna County Library System library card; to apply for a card online, click here.

Tickets are available at any Lackawanna County Library System Library, the Scranton Cultural Center box office, and the Everhart Museum.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Documentary Filmmaker Gregory T. Matkosky to Appear at Meet The Authors April 18th, 2007

Documentary filmmaker Gregory T. Matkosky (Stories From The Mines; An Empty Place at the Table; Looking to the River) will be at Albright Memorial Library on Wednesday, April 18th at 7 PM as part of "Meet the Authors" and National Library Week.

Stories From the Mines (both a documentary and a book co-authored by Matkosky, who was born and raised in Northeastern Pennsylvania) traces the miners’ epic human rights battle from their arrival in the United States to the Great Strike of 1902 (in Scranton, PA) and the inception of the United Mine Workers. The film blends dramatic reenactments and never-before-seen archival footage and photographs to recount a conflict that inspired the involvement of Clarence Darrow and Theodore Roosevelt.

An Empty Place at the Table documents an exhibit of table settings, the empty chairs representing victims of domestic violence.

In addition to his work as a filmmaker and author, Matkosky is also the creative director of WVIA.

For more information on "Meet the Authors 2007," click here.
Call to register at 570-348-3000, x3043.

Click on the image above (by Michele Murphy) for more information.

NBC's The Office The Subject of 3 (Count 'Em, 3) Articles in Today's Citizens' Voice

(cover image courtesy of

Though it isn't my intention to make the Scranton/W-B Entertainment blog something devoted exclusively to NBC's The Office (set in Scranton, Pennsylvania), regular readers of this blog can see that the numerous references to Scranton on the hit sitcom are abundant and almost impossible to ignore.

Today's Citizens' Voice (serving Wilkes-Barre and other areas of Luzerne County) has devoted three articles and an interactive multimedia page (website only) in today's edition (April 5, 2007) to The Office. The articles are linked below:

"Office" Cast Imagines What Scranton Is Really Like (cast members imagine what the real Scranton is like)

A Peek Into 'The Office' (this article lists several Scranton-related items, locations, etc. that were featured in episodes)

It's Just Another Day At 'The Office' (two writers from Times-Shamrock newspapers visit the set of The Office)

'The Office' Multimedia Tour of Scranton (includes video interviews with cast members)