Michael Moriarty

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Michael Moriarty
Born (1941-04-05) April 5, 1941 (age 83)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Occupation Actor/Musician
Years active 1971—present
Spouse(s) Suzana Cabrita (1998-1999; divorced)
Anne Hamilton Martin (1978-1997; divorced)
Francoise Martinet (1966-1978; divorced)
Margaret Brychka (?-present)

Michael Moriarty (born April 5, 1941) is an American-Canadian stage and screen actor and a jazz musician. He played Benjamin Stone for the first four seasons in the TV series Law & Order.

Early life

Moriarty, an Irish-American,[1] was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Elinor (née Paul) and George Moriarty,[2] a surgeon. His grandfather George Moriarty was a third baseman, umpire, and manager in the major leagues for nearly 40 years.

Moriarty attended middle school at Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills before transferring to the University of Detroit Jesuit High School for high school.[3] He then matriculated at Dartmouth College in the class of 1963, where he was a theatre college major. After receiving his degree, he left for London, England, where he enrolled in the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, after receiving a Fulbright Scholarship.

Acting career

In 1973, Moriarty was cast as the egocentric Henry Wiggen in Bang the Drum Slowly, a film about the unlikely friendship between two baseball teammates – the second being Robert De Niro, a slow-thinking catcher who becomes terminally ill. In the same year, Moriarty starred in a TV movie adaptation of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie with Katharine Hepburn. Coincidentally, the film also featured Sam Waterston, who later replaced Moriarty as the Executive Assistant District Attorney on Law & Order. Moriarty's role in The Glass Menagerie (as "Jim," the Gentleman Caller; Waterston played the son "Tom") won him an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actor of the Year.[4] In 1974, Moriarty starred as rookie detective Bo Lockley in the acclaimed gritty police drama Report to the Commissioner.

Moriarty won a Tony Award in 1974 for his performance in the play Find Your Way Home. His career on the screen was slow to develop, while his theatre career was flourishing. He starred as a German SS officer in the television miniseries Holocaust, which earned him another Emmy. Through the 1980s, Moriarty starred in such Larry Cohen movies as Q, The Stuff, It's Alive III: Island of the Alive, and A Return to Salem's Lot (much later, he appeared in Cohen's Masters of Horror episode "Pick Me Up"), as well as Clint Eastwood's Pale Rider and The Hanoi Hilton. In 1986, he starred in the fantasy science fiction movie Troll, playing the role of Harry Potter Sr. (unrelated to the 2001 Harry Potter series.)

From 1990 to 1994, Moriarty starred as Ben Stone on Law & Order. He left the show in 1994, alleging that his departure was a result of his threatening a lawsuit against then-Attorney General Janet Reno, who had cited Law & Order as offensively violent. Moriarty criticized Reno's comment, and claimed that not only did she want to censor shows like Law & Order but also such fare as Murder, She Wrote. He later accused Law & Order executive producer Dick Wolf of not taking his concerns seriously, and claimed that Wolf and other network executives were "caving in" to Reno's "demands" on the issue of TV violence. On September 20, 1994 on The Howard Stern Show, he made an offer to NBC, claiming that he would return to his role on the show if Dick Wolf was fired. Moriarty published a full-page advertisement in a Hollywood trade magazine, calling upon fellow artists to stand up with him against attempts to censor TV show content. He subsequently wrote and published The Gift of Stern Angels, his account of this time in his life.[5]

Wolf and others working on Law & Order tell a different story, however. On November 18, 1993, Moriarty and Wolf, along with other television executives, met with Reno to dissuade her from supporting any law that would censor the show. Wolf said that Moriarty overreacted to any effect the law was likely to have on the show. Law & Order producers claim they were forced to remove Moriarty from the series because of "erratic behavior", an example of which reportedly happened during the filming of the episode "Breeder" when, according to the episode's director, Arthur Forney, Moriarty was unable to deliver his lines with a straight face. Series and network officials deny any connection between his departure and Janet Reno. Wolf also denies that the show has become less violent, graphic or controversial since 1994.[6]

Moriarty acted in The Last Detail, Courage Under Fire, Along Came a Spider, Shiloh, Emily of New Moon and James Dean, for which he won his third Emmy. In 2007 he debuted his first feature-length film as screenwriter and performed the role of a man who thinks he is Adolf Hitler in Hitler Meets Christ.

Musical career

In addition to his acting career, Moriarty is a semi-professional jazz pianist and singer, as well as a classical composer. He has recorded three jazz albums (though the first, Reaching Out, went unreleased). He has performed live regularly in both New York and Vancouver with a jazz trio and quintet. In a 1990 concert review, New York Times reviewer Stephen Holden called Moriarty "a jazz pianist of considerable skill, an oddball singer with more than one vocal personality, and a writer of eccentric, jivey jazz songs."[7]


Moriarty is politically active, describing himself as a "centrist", and sometimes as a "realist".[8]

Moriarty announced his intention to run for the presidency in 2008 in an interview in the November 2005 issue of Northwest Jazz Profile, but he never formally declared his candidacy.[9] He later endorsed fellow former Law & Order actor Fred Thompson for the presidency during the 2008 Republican primaries,[10] as well as Carly Fiorina during the 2016 primary election cycle.[11] He has been a frequent contributor of numerous political columns to the ESR (Enter Stage Right) online Journal of Conservativism.

Personal life

Shortly after leaving Law & Order, Moriarty moved to Canada, declaring himself a political exile. He lived for a time in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he was granted Canadian citizenship, and Toronto, Ontario before settling in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Moriarty lives in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, where he still acts, writes and plays music. On the blog Enter Stage Right Moriarty writes that he was a "very bad drunk", but that as of February 1, 2004, he had been sober for three years.[12]



Year Title Role Notes
1971 My Old Man's Place Trubee Pell
1972 Hickey & Boggs Ballard
1973 Bang the Drum Slowly Henry 'Author' Wiggen
1973 A Summer Without Boys Abe Battle Television movie
1973 The Last Detail Marine O.D.
1973 The Glass Menagerie Jim O'Connor Television movie
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
1974 Shoot It Black, Shoot It Blue Herbert G. Rucker
1975 Report to the Commissioner Bo Lockley
1977 The Deadliest Season Gerry Miller Television movie, featuring Meryl Streep in her first movie role.
1978 Who'll Stop the Rain John Converse
1978 The Winds of Kitty Hawk Wilbur Wright Television movie
1979 Too Far to Go Richard Maple
1981 es (Reborn (1981 film); Reborn) Mark
1982 The Sound of Murder Charles Norberry
1982 Q Jimmy Quinn
1982 Blood Link Keith Mannings
1985 Odd Birds Brother T. S. Murphy
1985 Pale Rider Hull Barret
1985 The Stuff David 'Mo' Rutherford
1986 Troll Harry Potter, Sr.
1987 The Hanoi Hilton Williamson
1987 It's Alive III: Island of the Alive Jarvis
1987 A Return to Salem's Lot Joe Weber
1988 Windmills of the Gods Eillison Television movie
1988 Frank Nitti: The Enforcer Hugh Kelly Television movie
1989 The Secret of the Ice Cave Manny Wise
1989 Dark Tower Dennis Randall
1990 Full Fathom Five McKenzie
1995 Children of the Dust John Maxwell Television movie
1995 Broken Silence Mulligan Chicago International Film Festival Award for Best Supporting Actor
1996 Courage Under Fire General Hershberg
1996 Shiloh Ray Preston
1997 The Arrow President Dwight D. Eisenhower Television movie
1998 Earthquake in New York Captain Paul Stenning
1999 The Art of Murder Cole Sheridan
1999 Shiloh 2: Shiloh Season Ray Preston
2000 Woman Wanted Richard Goddard
2000 Children of My Heart Rodrique Eymard Television movie
2001 House of Luk Mr. Kidd
2001 James Dean Winton Dean Television movie
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
2001 Along Came a Spider Senator Hank Rose
2003 Cold Blooded Mark Solomon
2005 Fugitives Run Callohan
2005 Neverwas Dick
2006 12 Hours to Live Donald Saunders Television movie
2006 Deadly Skies General Dutton Television movie
2006 Santa Baby T. J. Hamilton ABC Family Television movie
2007 Hitler Meets Christ Hitler
2012 The Yellow Wallpaper Mr. Isaac Hendricks


Year Title Role Notes
1978 Holocaust Eric Dorf 4 episodes
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
1986 Cagney & Lacey Patrick Lowell Episode: "Act of Conscience"
1986 Hotel Brad Carlton Episode: "Heroes"
1987 The Equalizer Dr. Peter Kapik Episode: "Encounter in a Closed Room"
1988 The Twilight Zone Warren Cribbons Episode: "20/20 Vision"
1989 The Equalizer Wayne 'Seti' Virgil Episode: "Starfire"
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series
1990–1994 Law & Order Executive A.D.A. Ben Stone 88 episodes
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (1991–94)
1997–1999 PSI Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal Michael Kelly 10 episodes
1997 Dead Man's Gun John Pike Episode: "Death Warrant"
1998 Poltergeist: The Legacy Major Robert 'Johnathan' Boyle Episode: "Father to Son"
1998 Touched by an Angel Dr. Charles Crayton Episode: "Seek and Ye Shall Find"
1998 Emily of New Moon Douglas Starr 3 episodes
1999 Strange World Unknown Episode: "Pilot"
2000 The Adventures of Jules Verne Dr. Draco Episode: "The Eyes of Lazzaro"
2000 The Outer Limits Solicitor-General Wallace Gannon Episode: "Final Appeal"
2001 Mentors William Randolph Hearst Episode: "Citizen Cates"
2002 Stephen King's Dead Zone Reverend Eugene 'Gene' Purdy Episode: "Unaired Pilot"
2002 Taken Colonel Thomas Campbell Episode: "Beyond the Sky"
2002 Just Cause Dr. Hamilton Whitney Episode: "Death's Detail"
2004 The 4400 Orson Bailey Episode: "Pilot"
2006 Masters of Horror Jim Wheeler Episode: "Pick Me Up"


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  3. Moriarty, Michael (May 15, 2006) With Churchillian defiance", www.enterstageright.com.
  4. Internet Movie Database awards page for Moriarty
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  10. Actor Michael Moriarty Endorses Fellow Law & Order Star for President by Jim Kouri, CPP
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  12. Moriarty, Michael (May 29, 2006)"RU486 or against it?", www.enterstageright.com

External links

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