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By Caitlyn Wisser/April 16, 2021 7:41 pm EDT/Updated: April 16, 2021 7:54 pm EDT
The following article includes allegations of domestic abuse.
Law & Order is one of the most iconic shows in television history. Premiering on September 13, 1990, it ran for a whopping 20 seasons. It led to the creation of four different spin-off series and even a movie. Created by Dick Wolf, the series is "tied with Gunsmoke as the second-longest running primetime American TV series, behind The Simpsons," according to the NBC website. That longevity led to some iconic moments, like the highly recognizable "thunk, thunk" sound that's now associated with the show almost exclusively, and as the network notes, "Law & Order helped clear a space for the many crime- and investigation-based shows that are now household names, such as NYPD Blue, NCIS and CSI."
One other notable part of Law & Order was its ever-changing cast. Numerous actors have lent their talents to the show over its 20-year run, and many now-famous actors can credit their start to Law & Order. As it filmed on location in New York, many Broadway veterans also made an appearance on the show, including Jerry Orbach who played Detective Lennie Briscoe for 12 seasons and Jesse L. Martin of Rent fame who played Detective Ed Green for nine. And while fans grew attached to many members of this roster, most of the main cast had emotional connections in their own lives as well. The life of a TV actor is not easy, but that burden can be lifted with the right support system, which, thankfully, many of Law & Order's primary cast members had.
Chris Noth is married to his long-time girlfriend
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Chris Noth, who catapulted to fame as Mr. Big in Sex and the City and Peter Florrick on The Good Wife, got one of his first big breaks on Law & Order. Noth played Detective Mike Logan on the procedural drama for the first five seasons. He ultimately was fired from the production because Executive Producer Dick Wolf cited that Noth would be owed a "huge ” pay bump should his contract be renewed, which the show couldn't afford at the time, reported the AP. While Noth would go on to have a very successful career in the acting department, it took him a while to be successful in the romance one.
In fact, Noth wouldn't get married to his wife, actor Tara Wilson, until 2012, though the two had been dating for a long time before they got hitched, reported People. The couple met in Noth's New York City bar, the Cutting Room, and got engaged in 2009. They tied the knot in Maui in an intimate ceremony.
Noth and Wilson are parents to two kids: Their first son was born in 2008 and their second 12 years later. A scroll through Noth's Instagram profile seems to showcase a happy life together.
Dann Florek has been with his wife for years
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Following a recurring role on legal drama L.A. Law, Dann Florek was cast as Captain Donald Cragen for the first season of Law & Order. However, he was fired after three seasons when the show wanted to add more female cast members to the roster, reported the Los Angeles Times. The publication wrote Dick Wolf stayed in contact and offered him to reprise his role of Captain Cragen for Law & Order: SVU. He accepted and kept the role for 15 years, only retiring to keep with the realism of the show.
Throughout his career, Dann's wife, Karen Florek, has been by his side. According to Michigan Humane, the two met at Eastern Michigan University, and they've been a thing ever since. The couple married in 1983.
Dann told the Chicago Tribune that "Karen, a painter, ... has been with him since the struggling days." He said "there were times when she was working and I was making $1.38 a week." The struggles didn't seem to get to them, however, as they are still together and bringing in four-legged family members. "Over the years my wife and I have rescued all of our dogs (six and counting), and they've all enriched our lives in unexpected ways," Dann told Best Friends. "Our lives are better for having rescued these dogs."
S. Epatha Merkerson divorced her husband
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By the time Law & Order reached its 20th and final season, S. Epatha Merkerson had become the cast member who had appeared in the most shows — 375, according to The New York Times. She gave the show 16 years and felt "it [was] time to move on," reported Entertainment Weekly. She first appeared on Law & Order for one episode in its first season, The New York Times wrote, and then was brought back on as a full time cast member in the fourth season, playing Lt. Anita Van Buren, until what would prove to be the final season of the show (its renewal status was unknown at the time of Merkerson's departure).
Even though she spent many years in front of the camera, Merkerson has kept her personal life quiet. She married Toussaint Jones Jr. in 1994, though details about his career and their wedding are difficult to find. Merkerson and Jones seemed to like to keep their private lives private, though she did open up a bit about the end of her marriage during her press tour for Lackawanna Blues, which earned her a SAG Award, an Emmy, and a Golden Globe. She thanked her divorce lawyer in her speech at the SAG Awards and told Entertainment Weekly that she received her divorce decree on February 14, 2006, a "special day." Since then, Merkerson has kept her usual silence about her personal life and it is unclear if she is seeing anyone at the time of this writing.
Jill Hennessy and her husband ran a restaurant together
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Jill Hennessy is another one who got her career start on Law & Order. The Canadian actor was cast as Assistant District Attorney Claire Kincaid in 1993, a continuation of her character in Homicide: Life on the Street. Hennessy was "the first in the parade of female ADAs to pair with the always-male Executive Assistant District Attorney, in the fourth-season premiere," E! reported, in an effort to make the show "less of a men's club," NBC President Warren Littlefield told Forbes. In fact, the network was so keen on having Hennessy that they worked around her scheduling conflicts between Law & Order and Homicide: Life on the Street, casting her twin sister to step in for her when necessary, according to ScreenRant. Hennessy left the role of Kincaid in 1996, going on to successful shows like Crossing Jordan, The Good Wife, and Madame Secretary.
Before landing Crossing Jordan, however, Hennessy concentrated on her personal life, marrying actor Paolo Mastropietro in Italy in 2000. According to Hello!, the wedding happened while they were working on the Steven Seagal movie Exit Wounds. The two wed again in a ceremony in New York officiated by then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani in January 2001. The couple has two sons, Marco and Gianni, and she and Mastropietro opened a restaurant called Hennessey's Tavern in New Jersey. (It looks like it has since closed.) The two are still married as of this writing.
Sam Waterston has married twice
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It's hard to think about Law & Order without thinking about Sam Waterston. Although he wasn't cast on the show until its fifth season, Waterston has become a household name due to his tenure on the procedural. He played Executive Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy for the majority of his time on the series, though was promoted to District Attorney for the final two seasons of the show. A prolific stage actor, Waterston was well-known in theater, but his real breakthrough role was in Law & Order. In fact, as the series description on the NBC website points out, he was the second-longest actor on the series, clocking in at 16 seasons, one shorter than S. Epatha Merkerson. Since then, Waterston has continued his roles on television, appearing in Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom, Grace and Frankie, and Law & Order: SVU.
Waterston has enjoyed two marriages throughout his life. He first married Barbara R. Johns, a fashion reporter for The New York Herald Tribune, in 1964, according to The New York Times. The two tied the knot at Yale University, his alma mater. They had a son, James, but eventually split. He then married a model named Lynn Louisa Woodruff in 1976. The couple is still together as of this writing and have three children: daughters Katherine and Elisabeth — who are both actors — and son Graham.
Benjamin Bratt enjoyed the dating scene but eventually settled down
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Benjamin Bratt can also trace his success to his time on Law & Order, where he played detective Rey Curtis for four seasons. Bratt replaced Chris Noth as the junior detective to Jerry Orbach's Lennie Briscoe. Bratt's start on Law & Order opened many doors for him, and the actor has enjoyed roles on The Andromeda Strain, Private Practice, 24: Live Another Day, Modern Family, and DMZ. He also had a great turn in movies, starring alongside Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality, Doctor Strange, and lending his voice to popular animated movies like Despicable Me 2 and Coco. His rising star allowed him to date some impressive women before settling down and starting a family.
Bratt enjoyed some high-profile relationships in his life. He dated documentary filmmaker Monika from 1990 to 1996, reported Biography, before beginning to date Jennifer Esposito for eight months after she had a guest-starring role on Law & Order. Following that relationship, Bratt began to date, as Biography put it, "the undisputed Queen of Hollywood, Julia Roberts." The two were together for four years, but eventually called it quits in July 2001. (When they were still an item, Roberts also had a guest role on Law & Order.) Bratt then met his current wife, actor and model Talisa Soto, in 2001 on the set of a movie they worked on together called Piñero, reported People. They married on April 13, 2002, and currently have two children.
Angie Harmon is currently engaged, but has been married before
Angie Harmon found success prior to her time on Law & Order, but not necessarily as an actor. She got her start at 15 as a model, according to Us Weekly, winning a competition for Seventeen and appearing on numerous covers and in a few fashion shows. As she recalled to Parade, her acting career kicked off when she met David Hasselhoff on a plane and he thought she'd be a good fit for Baywatch Nights. Soon after, she landed the role of Assistant District Attorney Abbie Carmichael on Law & Order. Harmon stayed with the show for three years before leaving to start a family. She also pursued a fairly successful film career, landing gigs like Agent Cody Banks and Fun With Dick and Jane. She became a further household name working alongside Sasha Alexander from NCIS on Rizzoli & Isles for six seasons.
In 2001, when she left Law & Order, Harmon married NFL star Jason Sehorn, of the New York Giants and St. Louis Rams. He proposed to her in a surprise appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in 1998. The two had three daughters together, but divorced after 13 years, reported People. She has since become engaged to Days of Our Lives actor Greg Vaughan, though the two have yet to get married. According to Today, Harmon and Vaughan went public with their relationship in 2018 and he proposed on Christmas Day 2019.
Dianne Wiest hasn't had many public relationships
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Dianne Wiest was already a famous actor before her two season stint on Law & Order as Interim District Attorney Nora Lewin. She was a prolific stage actor and an award-winning film star, her working relationship with Woody Allen solidifying her as a two-time Oscar winner. She's also the recipient of numerous SAG, Emmy, and Golden Globe awards. According to Variety, Wiest said she was open to the idea of being on Law & Order, but Dick Wolf initially assumed she wouldn't be interested. "Luckily she was intrigued," he told Variety. A source claimed to Fox News that Wiest was "unhappy" on the set, so she left the show, going on to star in Life in Pieces and numerous other movies throughout the years.
While Wiest's list of acting gigs is lengthy, her list of known romances is quite the opposite. She has only had one publicized relationship, with her agent, Sam Cohn. The couple were together for three years, according to the Orlando Sentinel, though the relationship ended in the late '80s. Speaking with the Sentinel, Wiest confirmed the two would continue their working relationship and confirmed Cohn was "one of [her] closest friends in the world." Wiest told the publication she still wanted to get married and have children, and while the former hasn't happened for her yet, she did adopt two daughters.
Elisabeth Röhm has been engaged twice and married once
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Elisabeth Röhm made a name for herself on TV prior to Law & Order with recurring roles on Angel and Bull, but her time on the police procedural catapulted her into fame. While her turn as Assistant District Attorney Serena Southerlyn lasted for three-and-a-half seasons, with Röhm departing in the middle of Season 15, she will most likely be remembered for her controversial final scene, where she asked if she was fired because she was a lesbian. When the scene aired, viewers were confused because her orientation had never been mentioned before. Some said the show had "buried their gays," as ScreenRant noted, but Röhm later told HuffPost the bombshell was partially her idea, due to wanting a "splashy" exit.
"Splashy" could also be used to describe Röhm's love life. She has been engaged twice and married once. She was first affianced to director Austin Smithard, but the two eventually called it off and she began dating Ron Wooster. The couple got engaged in 2007 and were married in 2008, following the birth of their daughter. In 2018, Röhm revealed in People she and Ron had split in 2014. Happiness seemed to find her again, however, when Judge Jonathan Colby proposed in 2019. Unfortunately, Röhm announced they called it off in 2020, reported Us Weekly. A rep for the couple said they "decided not to get married." Röhm's current relationship status is unknown at the time of this writing.
Alana de la Garza has been married since 2008
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Alana de la Garza can probably trace her success as an actor to her time on Law & Order as Assistant District Attorney Connie Rubirosa. De la Garza was the last ADA on Law & Order, playing Connie for the show's final four seasons. Following the show's ending, de la Garza continued the character on the short-lived spin-off Law & Order: LA, but eventually landed gigs on numerous TV shows like CSI: Miami, Forever, Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, and, most recently, as Special Agent in Charge Isobel Castille on FBI. Her successes have also extended to her personal life.
De la Garza is currently married to a writer named Michael Roberts. The two reportedly met in Roberts' hometown of Orlando and tied the knot in 2008. "I love that guy," the Law & Order star said when the Orlando Sentinel asked about her husband following their nuptials. "We were friends for seven years." The party of two eventually grew: Roberts and de la Garza have two children.
Anthony Anderson's relationship has had ups and downs
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Anthony Anderson was fairly famous before starring on Law & Order, having worked on The Bernie Mac Show, The Shield, and even headlining his own show All About the Andersons. However, Anderson credits his casting as Junior Detective Kevin Bernard for the final three seasons of Law & Order for changing his life. He told People in 2014 that getting the part spurred him into making "a drastic change." He shared, "I got more serious about my health and appearance ... I just started making healthier choices." He also said that his wife, Alvina Stewart, and their two children are supportive of his new, healthier lifestyle, which he describes as "vegan-ish" — a reference to his starring role on Black-ish. Though his wife is supporting him now, that's not to say they haven't gone through ups and downs. In fact, Stewart filed divorce papers in September 2015, reported E! News.
As the publication described, Anderson and Stewart have been married since 1999 and started dating in high school. Things seemed to be falling apart for them, however, as Stewart filed divorce papers, listing the date of separation as April 1, 2014. She cited "irreconcilable differences” and requested "joint legal custody" with "reasonable visitation" for their children. Their relationship appears to be on the mend now, and Just Jared reported the couple walked down the red carpet together at the 2019 Emmy Awards. As of this writing, their marriage seems to be going strong.
Michael Moriarty has been married four times
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Michael Moriarty was also there from the beginning of Law & Order, though he didn't get his acting start on the show. In fact, he was already a well-established stage and television actor prior to Law & Order, winning a Tony and Emmy award in 1974, reported People. He had also been catapulted to fame as part of the Holocaust miniseries, where he played "lawyer-turned-SS officer," and which earned him a Golden Globe. He was then cast as Executive Assistant District Attorney Ben Stone for Law & Order, a role he kept for the first four seasons, until a spat with Dick Wolf about his real-life political opinions led to him being dismissed from the show. If his acting life was tumultuous, though, that was nothing compared to his romances.
Moriarty was married to French prima ballerina Françoise Martinet from 1966 to 1978 and the couple had one child together, according to People. And then, as Time reported, he married a publicist and actor named Anne Hamilton Martin in 1979. Their marriage lasted until 1997, and he remained single only for a year. He married a bookseller named Suzana Cabrita, according to South Coast Today, though the two divorced in 1999. He entered into a common-law marriage with Margaret Brychka. In 2000, he was charged with assaulting her at a restaurant, though the charges were eventually dismissed, reported CBC. There haven't been many recent updates regarding Brychka and Moriarty's relationship status, but according to WhosDatedWho, they're still together.
If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224. You can also find more information, resources, and support at www.thehotline.org.