He never fails to get noticed in Hollywood not only because he is an award-winning actor, but also because of his towering height. Standing at an imposing 6 feet and 4 inches, Michael Moriarty often portrays political figures or intimidating military characters that command authority and respect. Aside from being a very talented actor who has been a recipient of an Emmy, Tony and Golden Globe awards, he is also an excellent jazz and classical pianist who has regularly performed live in New York and Vancouver and has cut three jazz albums with a jazz trio and quintet.
Born on 5 April 1941 in Detroit, Michigan, Michael Moriarty attended Dartmouth College where he studied theater arts. After earning his degree, he enrolled in the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts in England under the auspices of a Fulbright Scholarship. In 1973, he made his Broadway debut playing the role of George Mische in “The Trial of the Cantonsville Nine” and gained recognition the following year in his Broadway portrayal of Julian Weston in “Find Your Way Home,” where he won a Tony Award. In the early 70s, Moriarty also starred in memorable films such as “Bang the Drum Slowly” and “The Last Detail.” Despite these successful films, his movie career did not flourish as much as his work on stage. In the end, it was his television appearances that made him the success that he is today. His biggest breakthrough in the small screen came with his portrayal of Erik Dork, the Nazi SS officer in the 1978 made-for-TV mini-series “Holocaust” which earned him a Golden Globe Award.
In 1973, Michael Moriarty portrayed Jim, the Gentleman Caller in the TV adaptation of “The Glass Menagerie,” which earned him an Emmy Award. However, his most acclaimed role was his portrayal from 1990 to 1994 of assistant district attorney Ben Stone in the TV series “Law and Order,” which earned him three Emmy nominations. Moriarty left the TV series in 1994 claiming that the TV network let him go because of his threat to sue Attorney General Janet Reno who had fingered the show as offensively violent. Shortly thereafter, he emigrated to Canada and settled for good in Vancouver where he built a new life.
While Michael Moriarty had supported the Republican Party and advocates Libertarian goals, he describes himself as a “centrist.” He has voiced his opposition to abortion but had openly supported drug legalization. In 2005, he announced his plan to run in the U.S. presidential elections in 2008, but never did declare his candidacy for that position when the time came. Instead, he endorsed the candidacy of actor Fred Thompson, who was his former colleague in the “Law and Order” TV series.