Moved from the Bronx, New York to Mount Vernon, New York as a child; later moved to Wilkes-Barre and Scranton, Pennsylvania, Springfield, Massachusetts and Waukegan, Illinois
Began acting in summer stock at age 16; made stage debut in a production of the farce, "Room Service"
Made NYC stage debut at age 21 in a revival of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's "The Threepenny Opera"; played Mack the Knife
Played first notable film role in "Cop Hater"
Created the role of El Gallo in the long-running Off-Broadway musical, "The Fantasticks"
Earliest TV appearances included a supporting role in the CBS drama special, "Twenty-Four Hours in a Woman's Life", starring Ingrid Bergman and Rip Torn
Made Broadway debut in the musical, "Carnival", produced by David Merrick, directed by Gower Champion and based on the MGM musical "Lili" (1953), which starred Leslie Caron
Last film for seven years, "John Goldfarb, Please Come Home", a zany comedy starring Shirley MacLaine
Received first Tony nomination (in supporting category) for playing Sky Masterson in a revival at New York's City Center of the Frank Loesser musical, "Guys and Dolls"
Appeared on TV in the prominent supporting role of Charles Davenport in a performance of the classic Irving Berlin Broadway musical, "Annie, Get Your Gun", with Ethel Merman recreating her original stage role
Starred on Broadway in "Promises, Promises", a musical with a score by Burt Bacharach and Hal David and a book by Neil Simon based on the screenplay for the Billy Wilder film, "The Apartment"; received Tony Award as Actor in a Musical
Returned to films after a seven-year absence to play his first leading role in a feature, "The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight"
Starred on Broadway opposite Gwen Verdon and Chita Rivera in the Bob Fosse musical, "Chicago", based on the 1920s play by Maurine Dallas Watkins and the film adaptation "Roxie Hart" (1942), which starred Ginger Rogers; received Tony nomination as Actor in a Musical
Originated the role of Julian Marsh in the smash Broadway musical, "42nd Street", based on the classic Warner Bros. musical film of 1933; played role originated by Warner Baxter
Starred in HBO adapatation of Neil Simon's "Plaza Suite"
First network TV-movie, "An Invasion of Privacy" (CBS)
Began making recurring guest appearances on the long-running CBS detective series, "Murder, She Wrote", in the role of detective Harry McGraw; would appear occasionally on the series over the next five years
First TV miniseries, "Dream West" (CBS)
Supplied a voice for the animated children's series, "Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers"
Played title role in short-lived CBS detective series, "The Law and Harry McGraw", a spin-off from "Murder, She Wrote"
Had featured role in Woody Allen's "Crimes and Misdemeanors"
Received Emmy nomination for one-time guest appearance on an episode of the NBC sitcom "The Golden Girls" entitled "The Cheaters"
Provided the voice of Lumiere, the candelabra, for Disney's animated blockbuster "Beauty and the Beast"
Joined the cast of NBC's police drama, "Law & Order", which had already been on the air since 1990, as Detective Lenny Briscoe; earned a 2000 Emmy nomination
Made cross-over appearances as Briscoe on the NBC drama series "Homicide: Life on the Street"
Reprised character of Lumiere in the direct-to-video sequel "Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas"
Filmed co-starring role in "Chinese Coffee" opposite director-star Al Pacino; movie premiered at the 2000 Toronto Film Festival
Portrayed Detective Briscoe in cross-over appearances on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (NBC)
Was set to reprised his role of Detective Briscoe in the spin-off "Law & Order: Trial by Jury" (NBC), before his death in December 2004