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Michael Moriarty (born April 5, 1941) is a 3 time emmy and tony award winning American-Canadian actor of stage and screen, and a jazz musician. He played Benjamin Stone for four seasons on the TV series Law & Order.

Early life

Moriarty, an Irish American, was born in Detroitmarker, Michiganmarker, the son of Elinor (née Paul) and George Moriarty, a police surgeon. His grandfather, George Moriarty, was a third baseman, umpire and manager in the major leagues for nearly 40 years. He attended middle school at Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hillsmarker before transferring to the University of Detroit Jesuit High Schoolmarker for high school. Moriarty then matriculated at Dartmouth Collegemarker in the class of 1963, where he was a theatre major. After he received his degree, he left for Londonmarker, Englandmarker, where he enrolled in the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Artmarker, after receiving a Fulbright Scholarship.

Acting career

In 1973, Moriarty was cast to play the egocentric Henry Wiggen in Bang the Drum Slowly, a film about friendship between two unlikely 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 Menagerie (as "Jim," the Gentleman Caller; Waterston played the son "Tom") won him an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actor of the Year. In 1974 he had a starring role as rookie detective Bo Lockley in the acclaimed gritty police drama Report to the Commissioner.

He won a Tony Award in 1974 for his work in Find Your Way Home. Moriarty's career on the screen was slow to develop, while his theatre career was flourishing. He starred as a Germanmarker SSmarker 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 3, 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.

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. Moriarty published a full-page advertisement in a Hollywoodmarker 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.

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". One example 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 to his departure and Janet Reno. Wolf also denies that the show has become less violent, graphic or controversial since 1994.

Moriarty performed in 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), and 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".

Personal life

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

Moriarty lives in Maple Ridge, British Columbiamarker, 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.


Moriarty is politically active, describing himself as a "centrist", and sometimes as a "realist". He has written extensively on his opposition to abortion. For example, in response to a recent interview question as to what the most pressing issue facing the nation was, he said:
We will find abortion and the despotic Roe v. Wade decision revealing itself as a virtual burning of the Declaration of Independence and our "inalienable right to life…when created"… not gestated. So the pressing issue will, inevitably, be the Third Millennium's version of American slavery: ABORTION.

Moriarty announced his intention to run for President of the United States in 2008 in an interview in the November 2005 issue of Northwest Jazz Profile, but never formally declared his candidacy.He later endorsed fellow former Law & Order actor Fred Thompson for the presidency. He also has been a frequent contributor of numerous political columns to the ESR (Enter Stage Right) online Journal of Conservativism.

A website devoted to Moriarty, MMUUUHP (the "Michael Moriarty Unofficial, Unauthorized, Unsanctioned Home Page"), contains editorials by Moriarty, and these, in addition to posts on ESR, contain scathing denunciations of an eclectic array of targets, including Bill Clinton, Thanaticism, abortion, embryonic stem cell research, anti-Catholicism, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, George W. Bush, both major U.S. political parties, Halliburton, the College of Cardinals, Islam, and most of Catholic theology. Historically, he has been a supporter of the Republican Party. A recent interview contains the following quotes by Moriarty:


However, he later recanted his previous hatred towards Islam, deeming that Osama Bin Laden preached a perverted, traitorous form of Islam:

See also


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