x

Society

Law & Order’s Steven Hill Dies

August 24, 2016

LOS ANGELES — Steven Hill, a versatile character actor in theater, films and television who achieved his greatest success late in life as grumpy District Attorney Adam Schiff on TV’s long-running Law & Order, died Aug. 23. He was 94.

He died at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, his wife, Rachel, said. The cause of death was not immediately available, but his wife said he suffered from several ailments.

Hill, who also starred for a season in the 1960s series Mission Impossible, was remembered warmly by Law & Order producer Dick Wolf.

“Steven was not only one of the truly great actors of his generation, he was one of the most intelligent people I have ever met. He is also the only actor I’ve known who consistently tried to cut his own lines,” Wolf said in a statement.

Hill, whose more than two dozen films included Billy Bathgate, White Palace and Yentl, recalled in 1999 how his presence as Law & Order’s grouchy legal stickler developed gradually during his 10 years with the show.

“It was like a very pleasant back-and-forth kind of thing,” he said. “I’d come up with these ideas, give suggestions on (Schiff’s) kind of thinking, and the writers used that as a kind of springboard.”

He also studied up on the law to make his character more believable. “I believe the audience needs to feel you understand what the heck you’re talking about and they can tell if you don’t,” he said.

After he left the show in 2000, Hill remained visible on TV for a time as the no-nonsense pitchman in commercials for TD Waterhouse Investor Services.

Hill had honed his craft in the years immediately after World War II, taking classes at the Actors Studio in New York with Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift.

He made his Broadway debut in 1946 with A Flag Is Born and was in the original casts of Mister Roberts and The Country Girl.

When the TV networks began broadcasting live drama programs during television’s Golden Age, Hill made the transition to the small screen seamlessly, appearing on Studio One, The Ford Theatre Hour, Lux Video Theatre, Goodyear Television Playhouse and The Philco Television Playhouse.

Later, he appeared on shows including thirtysomething The Fugitive, Rawhide Ben Casey, ‘Dr. Kildare, The Untouchables and Route 66.

When Mission Impossible debuted in 1966, he landed a starring role, as undercover team leader Daniel Briggs. But he left after one season when the show’s shooting schedule interfered with his observation of the Jewish Sabbath. He was replaced by Peter Graves.

An Orthodox Jew, Hill abandoned acting for a time in the late 1960s to study religion. He said later he believed the sabbatical improved his acting ability.

He had made his movie debut in 1950 in A Lady Without Passport with Hedy Lamarr. Other notable films over the years included Teachers Brighton Beach Memoir and Legal Eagles. He also portrayed the father of Christine Lahti in Running on Empty, of Meryl Streep in Heartburn and Jill Clayburgh in It’s My Turn.

Born Solomon Krakovsky to Russian immigrant parents in Seattle, Hill said his interest in acting was ignited at age 6, when he landed the lead in a production of The Pied Piper of Hamelin.

He married Selma Stern in 1951 and the couple had four children before divorcing in 1964. He married his second wife, Rachel, in 1967, and they had five children together, according to the New York Times.

___

By Lynn Elber, AP Television Writer. The late Associated Press writer Bob Thomas contributed biographical material to this report

 

RELATED

KYIV, Ukraine — Russia said Wednesday that nearly 1,000 Ukrainian troops at a giant steelworks in Mariupol have surrendered, abandoning their dogged defense of a site that became a symbol of their country’s resistance, as the battle in the strategic port city appeared all but over.

Top Stories

General News

FALMOUTH, MA – The police in Falmouth have identified the victim in an accident involving a car plunging into the ocean on February 20, NBC10 Boston reported.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.

General News

PHILADELPHIA – The Federation of Hellenic Societies of Philadelphia and Greater Delaware Valley announced that the Evzones, the Presidential Guard of Greece will be participating in the Philadelphia Greek Independence Day Parade on March 20.

Video

PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ Address to the Joint Session of the U.S. Congress

WASHINGOTN - The full text of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ speech to the Joint Session of the US Congress is as follows: Madam Speaker, Madam Vice President, Honorable Members of the United States Congress, Ladies and Gentlemen, There is no greater honor for the elected leader of the people who created democracy than to address the elected representatives of the people who founded their country on the Greek model and have promoted and defended democratic values ever since.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. abc@xyz.com

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.