The man who brought the morally strong and astute law enforcement officer Ben Stone to life on the small screen, Michael Moriarty is a professional stage and screen actor best known for portraying character roles. Standing tall at 6’ 4”, he is definitely one of Hollywood’s tallest actors. Being so tall does have its benefits! His extraordinary height lends him an air of formidability which the actor used to the best of his advantage. The son of a doctor, he developed an interest in acting from a young age and studied theatre in college before attending The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) on a scholarship. He was very talented and dedicated towards the profession of acting and there was no doubt that he would one day become a major actor. He began his career as a theatre actor by making his debut at the New York Shakespeare Festival. Eventually he made his way into the world of television. His role as Jim in the television production of Tennessee Williams' ‘The Glass Menagerie’ won him several accolades and made him a recognized face among the audience. His height combined with his lanky frame and piercing gray-blue eyes make him an ideal selection to play characters with underlying psychological issues.
Childhood & Early Life
He was born in Michigan to George Moriarty and Elinor Paul. His father was a General Medical Surgeon who also worked as a policeman. His grandfather was a famous baseball player.
After completing his high school education he went to Dartmouth College in New Hampshire from where he graduated in 1963. During this time he made his stage debut as Octavius in ‘Anthony and Cleopatra’.
A bright student, he won a scholarship to attend the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
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He began his film career playing Trubee Pell in the movie, ‘My Old Man’s Place’ in 1971. The very next year he appeared as Ballard in the neo-noir detective movie, ‘Hickey & Boggs’.
He played Henry Wiggen, a talented baseball player in the 1973 movie, ‘Bang the Drum Slowly’ which revolves around the story of Henry’s friendship with a dying team mate played by Robert De Niro.
In the 1973 television movie, ‘The Glass Menagerie’, he played Jim O'Connor, a gentleman. The movie was adapted from a play of the same name by Tennessee Williams.
In 1975, he played the Detective Bo Lockley in the crime drama ‘Report to the Commissioner’ in which his character unknowingly kills an undercover policewoman. The film though criticized at the time of its release became a cult classic.
His role as Eric Dorf in the television miniseries ‘Holocaust’ which was broadcast in four parts in 1978 was much appreciated. The series told the story of the Holocaust from the viewpoint of a Jewish family.
He starred along with Candy Clark, David Carradine and Richard Roundtree in the fantasy horror film ‘Q” in 1982. His role was of that of a lowly, paranoid crook who had big dreams in life.
He again played a detective in the horror film, ‘The Stuff’ in 1985 in which a strange, yogurt like substance, marketed as ‘the stuff’ actually starts eating up the people who eat it.
The year 1990 was a great one for him as he was chosen to play the detective Ben Stone in the NBC legal drama, ‘Law & Order’. His height and steely eyes gave his character the credibility it needed and this role became one of his most memorable ones. He stayed with the show till 1994.
He appeared in ten episodes of the science fiction drama ‘Psi Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal’ as Michael Kelly, a member of the recurring cast during the seasons 2-3 from 1997 to 1999.
He played the estranged father of the actor James Dean in the biographical television film, ‘James Dean’ (2001) which was based on the life of the American actor of the same name who tragically died at a young age.
In 2006 he played General Dutton in the science fiction television film, ‘Deadly Skies’ which is the story of two astronomers who try to stop a giant asteroid on a collision course with Earth.
He is best known for his portrayal of Ben Stone in the police procedural and legal drama television series, ‘Law & Order’ which originally aired on NBC in 1990. He appeared in 88 episodes of the crime drama for which he received serval accolades.
Award & Achievements
He won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie for his role as Jim Connor in ‘The Glass Menagerie’ (1973).
In 1978, he was presented with the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama and Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie for his portrayal of Eric Dorf in ‘Holocaust’.
Personal Life & Legacy
Moriarty has been married several times. His first marriage was to Francoise Martinet who he wed in 1966 and divorced in 1978. He married for the second time in 1978—this marriage with Anne Hamilton Martin lasted for almost two decades before breaking up in 1997.
He tied the knot for the third time with Suzana Cabrita in 1998. However this union too failed and the couple divorced in 1999. Currently, he is married to his fourth wife, Margaret Brychka.