Rivera, Alda, McKechnie Among Talent Roster For Orbach Tribute 'Remember How I Love You: Love Letters from an Extraordinary Marriage' 11/9

Rivera, Alda, McKechnie Among Talent Roster For Orbach Tribute 'Remember How I Love You: Love Letters from an Extraordinary Marriage' 11/9

A host of film and theater celebrities will celebrate the posthumous release of Remember How I Love You: Love Letters from an Extraordinary Marriage, Jerry and Elaine Orbach's autobiographical memoir recounting their thirty year marriage, at a once-in-a-lifetime reunion of the couple's colleagues at The Snapple Theater Center on Monday, November 9, 2009 at 5:30 PM.

Each morning before leaving their Hell's Kitchen apartment to report to the set of Law & Order, Jerry wrote Elaine a short poem for her to find upon waking. The poems were humorous, sweet and topical, focusing on the couple's morning rituals, their daily routine - whatever was on Jerry's mind. Combined, they tell the story of a marriage full of life and love. Elaine stored the poems in a soup tureen given to them by David Merrick and upon Jerry's death in 2004 began gathering her favorites into the collection that would eventually become Remember How I Love You. Elaine herself passed away unexpectedly on April 1, 2009 just as the book was completed.

At the event, a number of Jerry and Elaine's colleagues and friends will read select poems from the book including Alan Alda, Kelly Bishop, Lorraine Bracco, Jesse L. Martin, Donna McKechnie, Chita Rivera and Jerry Stiller, with more names to be announced. In addition, copies of the book signed by the participating celebrities will be sold with all proceeds benefitting Bideawee and The Eye-Bank for Sight Restoration, Jerry and Elaine's favorite charities.

A limited number of advance premium tickets are now on sale and can be purchased for $50 each - with all proceeds benefitting Bideawee and The Eye-Bank - by calling The Snapple Theater Center box office at (212) 921-7862. In addition, 100 free tickets will be distributed to the public at The Snapple Theater Center box office beginning at 10 AM on the day of the event, with a maximum number of two tickets per person allowed. The Snapple Theater Center is located at 210 West 50th Street at Broadway.

The Snapple Theater Center is a multi-theater entertainment complex located on the corner of 50th Street and Broadway in the heart of Times Square, New York City. The complex opened on May 22, 2006 and is sponsored by the beverage company Snapple. It is a 20,000-square-foot, state of the art entertainment center consisting of two theaters with a total seating capacity of 398, rehearsal studios, contemporary lobbies, WiFi, two bars with cabaret-style seating and two merchandise booths. The Jerry Orbach Theater currently houses The Fantasticks, the world's longest-running musical. The theater was so-named to commemorate Orbach's starring role in the original 1960 cast of The Fantasticks. An as-yet-unnamed theater houses Perfect Crime, the longest-running play in the history of New York theater. The Snapple Theater Center is part of Snapple's ongoing commitment to enriching the lives of New York residents and the millions of visitors who flock to the city each year.

Equally renowned for his work on stage, screen and television, Jerry Orbach's impact on American popular culture is indelible. His career began Off Broadway when he starred as El Gallo in the original company of Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt's The Fantasticks, which opened in 1960 and would go on to play 17,162 performances and become the longest-running musical in the world. Other stage credits include The Threepenny Opera, Carnival!, Guys and Dolls (for which he received a Tony nomination for his portrayal of Sky Masterson), Promises, Promises (for which he received the Tony Award), Chicago (another Tony nomination), Annie Get Your Gun, 42nd Street and The Cradle Will Rock. His film and television credits include Murder, She Wrote, The Law and Harry McGraw, Sidney Lumet's Prince of the City, Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors, Someone to Watch Over Me, Chinese Coffee, Beauty and the Beast (voice of Lumiere), Neil Simon's Broadway Bound, Mr. Saturday Night and the role of Frances "Baby" Houseman's father in the generation-defining hit Dirty Dancing. Jerry achieved icon status when he starred for twelve seasons as the lovably cynical Detective Lennie Briscoe on NBC's Law & Order.

Jerry Orbach's name is so synonymous with New York that in 2002 he was declared a Living Landmark by the city's Landmarks Conservancy. He was posthumously awarded a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series for his work on Law & Order. In 2007, a portion of 53rd Street near Eighth Avenue was renamed in his honor as "Jerry Orbach Way" and The Snapple Theater Center, a multi-theater entertainment complex on the corner of 50th Street and Broadway, named one of its theaters The Jerry Orbach Theater with generous support from producer Dick Wolf in honor of Jerry's association with The Fantasticks, a revival of which plays in that theater to this day.

At the age of seventeen, Elaine Cancilla left her hometown of Pittsfield, Massachusetts to audition for George Balanchine at the School of the American Ballet. She was accepted on a full scholarship and soon landed roles in two Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway musicals, Fiorello! and How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying. When she wasn't needed onstage in How To Succeed... she'd sneak over to the Imperial Theater to catch glimpses of then stranger but future husband Jerry Orbach, who was performing there in Carnival! Elaine became a favorite of several top choreographers of the day including Bob Fosse and went on to appear in a number of Broadway musicals including Here's Love, Flora, the Red Menace, Cry for Us All and Sweet Charity. Although Elaine never achieved permanent star status on Broadway, she quickly became a go-to girl for leading roles in summer stock and touring theater. She was a featured lead at such theaters as the famous Melody Top Theater in Milwaukee and she had starring roles in many shows across the country including Sweet Charity, South Pacific and The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Her life changed forever when Bob Fosse asked her to standby for Chita Rivera in the original company of Chicago on Broadway. It was there she met Jerry Orbach for the first time. They married soon after, while they were both performing in a tour of Neil Simon's Chapter Two.

Upon their marriage, Elaine retired from show business and devoted her life to being Mrs. Jerry Orbach.

Bideawee, which means "stay awhile" in Scottish, is one of the country's oldest and most respected animal welfare organizations. Founded in 1903 by Mrs. Flora Kibbe, Bideawee has been providing shelter, care and compassion to homeless animals for over 100 years.

Bideawee's mission is to promote and support safe, loving, long-term relationships between individuals and companion animals by providing a continuum of services and programs that are innovative, personalized and of the highest quality. Their primary responsibility is to help every individual be a caring and knowledgeable pet parent.

Bideawee operates three locations in New York: Manhattan, Wantagh and Westhampton. Bideawee is home to approximately 350 to 500 animals at any given time and places thousands of dogs, cats, puppies and kittens in loving homes annually. Bideawee sheltered animals receive thorough medical examinations and are spayed/neutered and micro-chipped before approved for adoption. Dogs receive basic obedience training and each animal enjoys one-on-one personal attention during care.

Bideawee houses two full-service veterinary practices at the Westhampton and Manhattan Centers, offering affordable, high quality medical care to the Bideawee sheltered dogs and cats, as well as serving the general public. Through its Veterinary Medical Assistance Fund (VMAF), Bideawee is able to offer medical care to homeless, abused and injured animals.

Since it was founded in 1944 by Dr. R. Townley Paton as the world's first transplant agency, The Eye-Bank for Sight Restoration has provided safe, quality donor eye tissue for ocular surgeries helping restore sight to more than 54,000 men, women and children in the Greater New York Metropolitan area.

The Eye-Bank seeks to increase public awareness of the importance of eye, organ and tissue donation and urges New Yorkers to enroll in the New York State Donate Life Registry as potential donors.

In December 2006, with permission from his wife, Elaine Cancilla-Orbach, The Eye-Bank launched a hugely successful public awareness campaign featuring beloved actor Jerry Orbach which shared the fact that his own generous eye donation provided the gift of sight to two fellow New Yorkers. The ads read, "Jerry Orbach gave his heart and soul to acting and the gift of sight to two New Yorkers." The multi-media campaign included subway cars, newspapers, radio and television and ran periodically through 2008.

The public response was tremendous with hundreds of people calling The Eye-Bank wanting to follow Jerry's lead by signing up in the registry to become donors and thousands more visiting The Eye-Bank's website at www.eyedonation.org. Collectively over the two years, The Eye-Bank experienced a 35 percent increase in eye donations, making a significant difference in the ability to provide sight-restoring donor eye tissue for New Yorkers waiting for cornea transplants.

Thanks to the generosity of those who leave the gift of sight through eye donation, The Eye-Bank is able to restore sight to more than a thousand men, women and children each year.

Photo Credit: Walter McBride/Retna Ltd.

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