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Michael Moriarty
Born (1941-04-05) April 5, 1941 (age 82)
EducationUniversity of Detroit Jesuit H.S.
Alma materDartmouth College (BA)
London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art
Years active1971–present
AwardsTony Award (1974)
Golden Globe Award (1979)
Emmy Award (1974, 1978, 2002)

Michael Moriarty (born April 5, 1941) is an American-Canadian actor. He received an Emmy Award[1] and Golden Globe Award[2] for his role as a Nazi SS officer in the 1978 miniseries Holocaust and a Tony Award[3] in 1974 for his performance in the play Find Your Way Home. He played Executive Assistant District Attorney Benjamin Stone for the first four seasons (1990–1994) of the television show Law & Order. Moriarty is also known for his roles in films such as Bang the Drum Slowly, Who'll Stop the Rain, Q: The Winged Serpent, The Stuff, Pale Rider, Troll, Courage Under Fire, and Shiloh.

Early life

Michael Moriarty was born in Detroit, Michigan, on April 5, 1941.[4] He is the son of Eleanor (née Paul) and George Moriarty,[5] a surgeon. His grandfather George Moriarty was a third baseman, umpire, and manager in major-league baseball for nearly 40 years.

Moriarty attended middle school at Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills before transferring to the University of Detroit Jesuit High School, graduating in 1959.[6][7] He then matriculated at Dartmouth College, where he was a theatre major, in the class of 1963. After receiving his bachelor of arts degree, he left for London, England, where he enrolled in the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, having received a Fulbright Scholarship.

Acting career

Before gaining fame in films, Moriarty worked for several years as an actor at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis.[8] In 1973, Moriarty was cast as the egocentric Henry Wiggen in Bang the Drum Slowly opposite Robert De Niro as a slow-witted 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.[9] In 1974, Moriarty starred as rookie detective Bo Lockley in the acclaimed 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 the German SS officer Erik Dorf 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"), and in 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 Harry Potter series).

In 1989, Moriarty starred in the HBO production Tailspin: Behind the Korean Airliner Tragedy, which dramatized the Soviet Union's shoot-down of Korean Air Lines flight 007 in 1983. He portrayed U.S. Air Force Major Hank Daniels, who was largely ignored (if not ridiculed) for showing how the ill-fated airliner had strayed off course into air space known by the Soviets to be used by U.S. Air Force electronic surveillance planes as they approached Soviet air space.

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 she wanted to censor not only shows such as 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.[10] In the fictional Law & Order universe, the Ben Stone character resigns from the D.A.'s office in 1994 after a witness in one of his cases is murdered. The February 7, 2018, episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit shows Sam Waterston's character, Jack McCoy, delivering a eulogy at Stone's funeral.[11]

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.[12]

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.

Other ventures

In addition to his acting career, Moriarty is a semiprofessional 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 regularly performed live in both New York City 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."[13]

Moriarty is politically active, describing himself as a "centrist" and sometimes as a "realist".[14] 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.[15] He later endorsed fellow former Law & Order actor Fred Thompson for the presidency during the 2008 Republican primaries,[16] as well as Carly Fiorina during the 2016 primary election cycle.[17] He has been a frequent contributor of numerous political columns to the Enter Stage Right online Journal of Conservatism.

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, living in Toronto before settling in Vancouver.

In 2006, in the blog Enter Stage Right Moriarty wrote that he was a "very bad drunk", but as of 2004, he had been sober for two years.[18]



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 The Last Detail First Lieutenant Marine Duty Officer
1974 Shoot It Black, Shoot It Blue Herbert G. Rucker
1975 Report to the Commissioner Bo Lockley
1978 Who'll Stop the Rain John Converse
1981 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
1989 The Secret of the Ice Cave Manny Wise
1989 Dark Tower Dennis Randall
1990 Full Fathom Five McKenzie
1995 Broken Silence Pater Mulligan Chicago International Film Festival Award for Best Supporting Actor
1996 Courage Under Fire General Hershberg
1996 Shiloh Ray Preston
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
2001 House of Luk Mr. Kidd
2001 Along Came a Spider Senator Hank Rose
2003 Cold Blooded Mark Solomon
2005 Fugitives Run Callohan
2005 Neverwas Dick
2007 Hitler Meets Christ Hitler
2012 The Yellow Wallpaper Mr. Isaac Hendricks
2017 King Cohen: The Wild World of Filmmaker Larry Cohen Himself
2021 Gunfight at Dry River John 'Boone' Hawkins
2022 The Phantoms Mr. Hendricks


Year Title Role Notes
1973 A Summer Without Boys Abe Battle TV movie
1973 The Glass Menagerie Jim O'Connor TV movie
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
1977 The Deadliest Season Gerry Miller TV movie
1978 Holocaust Erik Dorf Miniseries, main cast
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
1978 The Winds of Kitty Hawk Wilbur Wright TV movie
1979 Too Far to Go Richard Maple TV 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 Cribbens Episode: "20/20 Vision"
1988 Windmills of the Gods President Paul Ellison TV movie
1988 Frank Nitti: The Enforcer Hugh Kelly TV movie
1989 The Equalizer Wayne "Seti" Virgil Episode: "Starfire"
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series
1989 Tailspin: Behind the Korean Airliner Tragedy USAF Major Hank Daniels TV movie
1990–1994 Law & Order Executive A.D.A. Ben Stone Main cast (Seasons 1–4)
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (1991–94)
1993 Born Too Soon Fox Butterfield TV movie
1995 Children of the Dust John Maxwell Miniseries, main cast
1996 Crime of the Century Governor Harold Hoffman TV movie
1997–1999 PSI Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal Michael Kelly Recurring role (Seasons 2–3)
1997 Dead Man's Gun John Pike Episode: "Death Warrant"
1997 The Arrow President Dwight D. Eisenhower TV movie
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 Children of My Heart Rodrique Eymard TV movie
2000 The Outer Limits Solicitor-General Wallace Gannon Episode: "Final Appeal"
2001 Mentors William Randolph Hearst Episode: "Citizen Cates"
2001 James Dean Winton Dean TV movie
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
2002 Stephen King's Dead Zone Reverend 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"
2006 12 Hours to Live Donald Saunders TV movie
2006 Deadly Skies General Dutton TV movie
2006 Santa Baby T.J. Hamilton TV movie


  1. ^ "Outstanding Lead Actor In A Miniseries Or A Movie Nominees / Winners 1978". Television Academy. Retrieved December 14, 2022.
  2. ^ "Holocaust". Retrieved December 14, 2022.
  3. ^ "Winners". Retrieved December 14, 2022.
  4. ^ "Michael Moriarty - I am Jack Ryan". July 4, 2009. Archived from the original on August 22, 2012. Retrieved August 12, 2012.
  5. ^ "Michael Moriarty Biography (1941-)". Retrieved March 9, 2011.
  6. ^ Moriarty, Michael (May 15, 2006). "With Churchillian defiance". Enter Stage Right.
  7. ^ "Highlights" (PDF). University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy. Fall 2015.
  8. ^ Colon, Alicia (November 24, 2009). "A Conversation With Former Law & Order Star Michael Moriarty". Irish Examiner. US. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
  9. ^ "Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series Nominees / Winners 1974". Television Academy. Retrieved March 28, 2023.
  10. ^ Moriarty, Michael (1997). The Gift of Stern Angels. Exile Editions. ISBN 1-55096-183-7.
  11. ^ Patterson, Kelsey (February 8, 2018). "'SVU' Just Killed off This Original 'Law & Order' Character". Retrieved May 5, 2020.
  12. ^ Courrier, Kevin; Green, Susan (November 20, 1999). Law & Order: The Unofficial Companion. Kent, England: Renaissance Books. pp. 136, 140. ISBN 1-58063-108-8.
  13. ^ Holden, Stephen (February 15, 1990). "Review/Cabaret; Singer, Actor And Pianist Rolled Into One". The New York Times. p. C-22. Archived from the original on August 21, 2023. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
  14. ^ "The Realists". August 27, 2001. Archived from the original on December 4, 2010. Retrieved March 9, 2011.
  15. ^ Moriarty, Michael (March 30, 2005). "Moriarty: 'I'm running for president in 2008'". Northwest Jazz Profile – via Enter Stage Right.
  16. ^ Kouri, Jim (January 14, 2008). "Actor Michael Moriarty Endorses Fellow Law & Order Star for President". Magic City Morning Star. Retrieved May 5, 2020 – via
  17. ^ Moriarty, Michael (December 7, 2015). "The Thousand Year Peace: Chapter Seven: 'Off The Rose'". Enter Stage Right. Archived from the original on August 2, 2016. Retrieved December 7, 2015.
  18. ^ Moriarty, Michael (May 29, 2006). "RU486 or against it?". Enter Stage Right. Retrieved May 5, 2020.